Overwatch League aiming for NBA and NFL-sized revenues, says Activision president and CEO

Bobby Kotick
Bobby Kotick has spoken about the longer term revenue goals for Overwatch League.

Blizzard’s Overwatch League hasn’t launched yet, but Activision Blizzard president and CEO Bobby Kotick has revealed that the company’s long-term goal is to generate revenue of a “similar scale” to the NBA and NFL.

Speaking in the Activision Blizzard Q1 earnings call last Thursday, Kotick spoke about the company’s plans for Overwatch League and compared it to the NBA and NFL.

“We’re incredibly excited to launch the Overwatch League later this year,” he said. “We believe by celebrating and rewarding our players, and recognizing their accomplishments, our professional players will become the role models and inspire competitors of the 21st century. The competitions we’re creating around the world will create sponsors and advertisers resulting in broadcast revenues, licensing, sponsorship and ticket sales, and most importantly, amazing spectator experiences.

“Through MLG we’re building the first dedicated global channel for esports; the over-the-top ESPN of video games.

“To put the Overwatch League opportunity in context, around 240 million people today watch approximately 7 billion hours of NFL content annually. This drives 12 billion dollars in revenues, including more than 6 billion dollars in media rights revenues. The NBA today has roughly 75 million viewers watching around 2 billion hours total, with more than five billion dollars in revenues, and a billion and eight of those from media rights.

“With hundreds of millions of people already watching esports and playing our games, over the long term, our goal is to create opportunities that we believe could be of a similar scale.”

Kotick also talked briefly about the advertising opportunities that he anticipated would come from Overwatch League.

“We’re also going to combine delivery of our spectator content with unique advertising opportunities that includes the ability for advertisers to have better targeting and analytics, much more than what you would see in traditional forms of broadcast advertising today,” he said.

“And with over 400 million MAUs [across the company] and extremely high levels of engagement, our potential to generate meaningful advertising revenue is substantial. In particular, we believe our initiatives for advertising in King mobile games is a large and untapped opportunity, and we continue to make progress with our testing and development of our ad platform at King.”

King Digital Entertainment was purchased by Activision in 2015 for $5.9 billion. The developer is well-known for its portfolio of Facebook and mobile games, including Candy Crush Saga and Candy Crush Soda Saga, two of the top five highest-grossing mobiles games in the U.S. According to the call, King’s Monthly Active User base sits at 342 million, Blizzard’s at 41 million, and Activision’s at 48 million.

Just yesterday two esports organizations announced that they were dropping their Overwatch rosters, citing a lack of opportunities in the current landscape. Blizzard also announced that it was forming a new division to oversee Overwatch Esports.