Twitch has made itself the de facto home of live esports events over the years. But other platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook have been making exclusive deals with tournament organizers in recent months to cut out their own slice of the esports broadcasting pie. In a move to stay at the top of esports broadcasting, Twitch revealed today a partnership with Blizzard to be the exclusive platform for more than 20 esports competitions in Overwatch, Hearthstone, StarCraft, World of Warcraft, and Heroes of the Storm over the next two years.
Not only will Twitch be the go-to third party broadcaster for popular tournaments like Overwatch APEX, the StarCraft II World Championship Series, and the Hearthstone Championship Tour, it will also be gifting Blizzard-related goodies to Twitch Prime subscribers. New and existing Twitch Prime subscribers will be receiving in-game items for Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm, and Overwatch over the next several months, starting with a new golden loot box for Overwatch that guarantees at least one legendary-level hero skin.
The deal specifically does not mention broadcasting rights for Blizzard’s anticipated Overwatch League, its developmental league Overwatch Contenders, or the Overwatch World Cup. Here are the events that Twitch will have exclusive broadcasting rights to for the next two years:
Overwatch APEX League
Overwatch Premier Series
Hearthstone Championship Tour
Hearthstone Global Games
StarCraft II World Championship Series
World of Warcraft Arena Championship
Heroes of the Storm Global Championship
Unless Blizzard plans on signing an exclusive deal with another platform, its other tournaments including the Overwatch League will likely also appear on Twitch, but probably not exclusively.
This deal between Twitch and Blizzard follows recent moves by YouTube to get the exclusive streaming rights to two major Counter-Strike: Global Offensive leagues: ESL Pro League and the Esports Championship Series.
Counter-Strike is one of the three most-watched esports alongside Dota 2 and League of Legends, so these two deals have taken quite a chunk of views away from Twitch. Twitch’s response of grabbing a handful of Blizzard’s most-watched leagues and tournaments was necessary if it wanted to guarantee that more of its content producers wouldn’t go the way of ESL Pro League or the Esports Championship Series.
This deal also has the potential to set off a series of streaming rights deals in the coming year. YouTube just lost rights to over 20 major tournaments that it would’ve had for the next two years if it weren’t for this deal, so it may try to fire back with more exclusive deals of its own.