Blizzard Reports Record-Breaking OWL 2020 Grand Finals Viewership

by in Overwatch | Oct, 13th 2020

Activision Blizzard has released the viewership data for the Overwatch League Season Three Grand Finals between the San Francisco Shock and Seoul Dynasty. 

While many in the industry were quick to point out that the viewership was less than stellar for the beginning of the OWL 2020 Grand Finals, it appears that these concerns may have been a bit premature. The Championship match is reported by Activision Blizzard to be the most-watched Overwatch League match ever, with a global AMA of 1.55 million, an increase of 39% from 2019’s Grand Finals viewership.

Of this viewership, YouTube viewership also hit a season-high, peaking around 180,000 during the live broadcast. Much of the global AMA comes from China, which clocked in at around 1.38 million average minute viewers. 

“As I said after the match, I’m so proud of the entire Overwatch League staff who worked incredibly hard to put on a great show for our fans, and we’re extremely proud to finish this season with 38% global viewership growth from last year,” Jon Spector, Vice President of Overwatch Esports at Blizzard Entertainment. “YouTube is a great partner for us and our viewership in Asia was massive as Grand Finals ran live in primetime for those audiences, which was great to see. Again, congrats to the Shock as the first-ever OWL repeat champions and thank you to all of our teams and staff for putting on a great season despite everything going on. Most of all thank you to the best fans in the world. See you in 2021!”

How Did Overwatch League Come up With These Numbers?

With many doomsaying the Overwatch League’s move to YouTube this year, it’s important to know exactly where these viewership metrics are coming from. 

Here was how Blizzard determined the data, straight from their press release:

  • 2019 OWL Grand Finals data included digital platforms (Twitch, Zhanqi, CC, Huya, Bilibili) and linear platforms (ABC)
  • 2020 OWL Grand Finals viewership data includes digital platforms (YouTube, CC, Huya, Bilibili)
  • All data includes live + first 24 hours rebroadcast viewership (does not include VOD) from owned & operated channels
  • Figures include 180,000 peak concurrent viewers on YouTube
  • YouTube data is pulled directly from YouTube Analytics for each of the OWL channels. A partnership between Activision Blizzard Esports and Google/YouTube was announced in January in a watershed moment for all esports.
  • AMA = Average Minute Audience, the average number of people watching at any minute during the broadcast

It’s worth noting here that Chinese viewership numbers have traditionally been extremely hard to vet and verify, but due to Blizzard’s direct partnership with these platforms, they may have ways of verifying this data that the public does not. Also, Blizzard has been working with Nielsen to verify their viewership data, and as other esports have also switched to this metric and working with the same company to show viewership, there is at least some stamp of authenticity to this data.

The San Francisco Shock took home their second straight Overwatch League title after taking down the Seoul Dynasty in dramatic fashion. This was after a turbulent season for the League where, thanks to the Coronavirus pandemic, teams were forced to play a majority of the season online and segmented heavily into regions. Despite these hardships, the Shock was able to come back and prove that they’re the best team in Overwatch, bar none.


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