By Isaac Chandler
September 5, 2019
A lot of debate popped up in the CoD community after Nadeshot and 100Thieves decided to not pursue a Call of Duty League (CDL) franchise spot. The discussion was over whether the spots were worth the rumored cost of entry for teams.
While there was much back and forth between the two sides, it seems as though Nadeshot and the team may have been right in their decision.
According to a recent study from Konvoy Ventures, a gaming and esports investment firm, the CDL’s media rights are only worth $24 million a season. Konvoy tried to estimate the league’s value based upon the Overwatch League numbers.
Keep in mind that this is using things like average cost per viewer from OWL to determine the valuation, but given that it’s proven more popular than CoD, the numbers shown are even worse.
Considering the spots are rumored to be going for $25 million apiece, seeing the entire league’s media rights valued below the price of a single team is pretty damning.
This is especially true when you consider the OWL and LCS, both leagues significantly newer than the CoD pro scene, are worth two to six times the estimated valued of the CDL.
According to Konvoy, based again on data from OWL, it would take the teams in the league 12.5 seasons to make back their entry fee alone. This is not taking into account operating costs such as player and staff salaries (players start at $50,000), merch production and advertising, and housing, amongst other things.
Outside of internal costs, there are also other mandatory fees that the team will need to pay to enter. Other things to consider is that viewership remains consistent and a lousy title doesn’t come out (a new CoD comes out every year for the following season).
What if another Ghost or Infinite Warfare pops up and fans are turned off from the league? Or, for those more familiar with sports, the NFL suddenly changed the game every year (one-year teams can only run, another they can only kick the ball around like soccer), or one year they switch to a version fans hate to watch.
Fans aren’t going to stick around, and that’s what makes the CDL especially unstable of a scene.
Time will tell if 100Thieves made the right decision or not. The more information that comes to light about the CDL franchise league, the less and less safe a bet it feels like it’s turning into, and the more correct the decision not to apply is looking.