After months of silence from Blizzard since the announcement of the Overwatch league, they’ve finally revealed the entrance fee. Teams will be able to buy-in for the cheap price of anywhere from $2 million to $15 million, according to Sports Business Daily.
Details are still scarce at this point on what buying-in entails for a new team owner. It was reported that the price is set appropriate to the market they’re buying into. For example, to start an Overwatch franchise in Los Angeles, California, a huge esports market, will set a buyer back $15 million. Most markets will even out at $2-$5 million with the large markets going closer to $10m.
With this information, Blizzard has made it clear that they are committed and highly value this new league. If this is what they’re asking owners for at the conception of the league, Blizzard is expecting this to be a highly-profitable venture. In the past, esports leagues formed with franchising in mind, but never had the backing that the Overwatch league will have with Blizzard.
It’s a brand new idea and is not guaranteed to be a success. Blizzard is asking owners to trust in a game that hasn’t proved itself as an esports title yet. It’s also essentially going all-in on one esports title, with the going rate set in the millions. Most major teams can afford the entry fee, but might spread them a little thin across other titles.
The idea behind it is to setup an established Overwatch league, similar to the more successful sports leagues in America (NFL, MLB, etc.). Stadium tickets and merchandising will be the main draw for potential investors. Also, to be apart of the worlds firs esports league with franchised teams.
At this point, there are no details on how the revenue sharing will work between all teams. People have speculated it could look similar to League of Legends LCS, but those are just rumors. This new league will avoid some of the LCS’s pitfalls in relegation , which will allow fans to become more familiar with players and teams. This will drive up profits. Also, getting to cheer for the home town team will instantly give fans a reason to invest in a team.
The issue right now is whether or not esports fans will support this new idea enough to keep it alive. Overwatch has a highly-active player-base, but most competitive Overwatch matches average out at about 15k viewers a stream. Now, that’s not bad for a new esports title, but turning around and asking owners for millions of dollars is a little suspect.
The idea is to tap into this massive player-base and create a fan base through them. There is no guarantee that it will work. Overwatch is a great game to play, but watching can be an entirely different story. The action in a match can be hectic and hard-to-follow for casual fans. It’s hard to get a grasp on which players are the ones to watch.
Ultimately, Blizzard will have to make updates to the UI and add more in-depth statistical data to make it easier on fans. It will take some tweaking to make this work. With Blizzard’s backing, however, it doesn’t seem unreasonable for owners to invest. As a fan myself, I hope this league is the future of esports. A more familiar setup will entice the traditional sports fan to watch. This could be the next step in the evolution of esports.