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Overwatch League: is the second attempt still a flop?

Posted Feb 26, 2019

The first week of the new Overwatch League season is already over, which means that now is the time for making some comparisons. This article will be dedicated to determining just whose first week showed the best overall broadcast results – and whether increasing the amount of participants has helped the 2019's competition.

First thing to note would be that the league's new season got a small expansion, namely the new official language were introduced. The championship now can be also viewed in Portuguese and Russian. The organizers have created special channels and studios specifically for these audiences.

Despite this, the peak figures of the discipline's main event have shown a decline. The debut of the OWL 2018 has peaked at 1 million 647 thousand viewers. Namely, such massive audience was gathered by the Seoul vs Dallas match. Fast forward one year, and the peak figure has declined to 1 million 548 thousand viewers, which was the audience of the Hangzhou Spark vs Shanghai Dragons match.

Still, the second season of this competition has managed to excel over the first one based on the average number of viewers – having 839 thousand viewers in the first week of the current championship, as opposed to the 701 thousand viewers from the past year.

Inspecting the Western audience alone makes for a completely lopsided situation. First of all, we should mind that both the average and peak figures of the Inaugural Season have exceeded those of its successor.

The aforementioned match from the first season has peaked at 436 thousand viewers, whereas the second season's match with a sufficiently large audience (which would be the London vs Philadelphia one) has only managed to gather 297 thousand viewers. This shows a decline of 32%, which is one-third of the audience. From the looks of it, the event's perspectives are not as bright as the organizers and developers would like them to be.

As was noted earlier, the last year's average figures also exceed those of the current year. Chinese audience aside, this would translate into 235 thousand viewers. Overwatch League 2019 has failed to surpass its predecessor, stopping at 210 thousand viewers instead. While not that abrupt, a decline is present nonetheless.

It should be noted that, for the first couple of days, the Inaugural Season simply did not have any events to compete with. During the start of OWL in 2018, the League of Legends' competitive season was yet to begin, and there still were several days until the opening of a large CS:GO competition. As for 2019, the championship had actual rivals in face of the regional LoL leagues and the CS major.

Overall situation shows that the public interest to this league, albeit small, has maintained some growth. Still, the organizers should come up with a more interesting reward system for their fans – perhaps by taking some hints from the approach taken by Riot Games for LCL. It is quite possible that a mere opportunity of obtaining a unique, free item, could be the decisive factor needed for an esports fan to choose OWL over the other events.

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