April 9, 2020

OWL Thriving While Traditional Sports Lay Dormant

SBJ Atlas

With traditional sports postponed and most of the world’s population sheltering at home, esports is helping to fill the void. Total viewership of OWL (Overwatch League) has risen by more than 110,000 views on average since the novel coronavirus disrupted the sporting world. OWL, however, was not left unscathed. The league canceled weeks 6 and 7 of their season and all physical events as they formulated a plan to move completely online. Still, OWL managed to stabilize for their week 8 return with around 1.5 million total views on their official YouTube channel. Week 9 achieved the third highest viewership overall this season, with numbers expected to increase throughout this week.

Popular esports leagues, such as ESL Pro Gaming, have continued normal operations. COD (Call of Duty) League, structured similarly to OWL, has been on hiatus but is returning this weekend, streaming the rest of the season on its official YouTube channel.

NOTE: YouTube owns the exclusive streaming rights for OWL with a 3-year, $160M deal signed in 2020. The COVID-19 disruption was determined by the dates in which OWL, along with most other sporting organizations, were forced to take action to slow the spread of the disease. Figures are rounded to account for incremental views gained across the week.