Format Changes to Overwatch League Stage Playoffs Drive Viewership on Twitch

The Stage Two Overwatch League Database-Link-e1521645463907 playoffs over the weekend displayed how the league’s ability to make broadcast adjustments can affect viewership on Twitch Database-Link-e1521645463907.

During the league’s inaugural season, stage playoffs took place on Sunday following a full week of regular season action, but this season the league made each of its four stage playoffs bigger and gave them their own standalone week in the schedule.

Halfway through the season, the change has paid dividends for OWL as each playoff week has managed to generate more than 1.9M hours watched each on the main Overwatch Database-Link-e1521645463907 League Twitch channel alone.

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Despite largely uncompetitive matchups leading to the stage finals, the Stage Two playoffs generated 2.5M hours watched this weekend with an average of 54K concurrent viewers on the main Overwatch League Twitch channel, including re-runs and peripheral coverage.

The weekend was highlighted by a highly competitive championship game on Sunday that averaged 112K CCV for a broadcast that lasted 6.6 hours and peaked at 197K CCV. While the broadcast posted less average viewership than the Stage One championship match (138K CCV), the league’s lengthened broadcast for the finals from four hours of airtime to more than six helped it generate more hours watched.

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In the league’s inaugural season, the stage playoffs were much smaller, and while they posted stronger average viewership, they didn’t generate nearly as many hours watched. The three-team stage playoffs for Stage Two last year only included two matches on Sunday, March 25, for one 4.6-hour broadcast that averaged 159K CCV, peaking at 216K, following a full weekend of regular season matches.

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Even though both matches required a tiebreaker to be played in a best-of-five series, the session generated just 729K hours watched. For comparison, this weekend’s Stage Two final was a six-game affair in a best-of-seven, and despite having less total play happening, the championship game alone generated 741K hours watched during the 6.6hour broadcast.

Early broadcasts during the Stage Two playoffs were hindered by non-competitive matches. Live broadcasts on Thursday and Friday averaged less than 100K CCV as the losing teams in the four best-of-five matches won a combined two games.

Saturday’s semi-final matches were equally uncompetitive as the two best-of-seven matches were 4-0 and 4-1 affairs. However, the seven-hour broadcast for the semifinals on Saturday managed to average 105K CCV with a peak of 165K.

As the Overwatch League continues to make year-over-year format changes to the schedule, and stage-to-stage adjustments to elements of its broadcast, it continues to grow its reach by finding ways to spread out matches and increase airtime.

While Twitch remains the primary platform for measuring viewership habits of the core Western esports audience, it does not represent the totality of Overwatch League viewership. Fans can watch the action on OWL’s official website, Battle.net, and MLG. Additionally, matches are streamed in China on Zhanqi.tv, NetEase CC, Bilibili, and Huya, and Blizzard also has a deal to broadcast matches on Disney-owned platforms including ESPN, ABC, and Disney XD.

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