The Overwatch League is continuing to stream well in 2019. Stage One has seen healthy viewership. The Stage One Playoffs are soon to begin, giving us the first champions of the season. The following stats measure all of Stage One in 2018 versus the first four weeks of Stage One in 2019.
Comparing the first weeks of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, we can see several differences. Stage One of the 2018 OWL had 137,000 concurrent viewers, excluding Chinese viewers. The 2019 Stage One had over 30,000 more average viewers at 168,000.
We also saw over a million hours more in time watched this year compared to last. Viewers are watching longer and engaging more often. We still have another week of Stage One in 2019, meaning the numbers for 2019 still have room for growth. Activity like this bodes well for the future of the Overwatch League, in this season and beyond.
Will viewership continue to increase?
We know that Blizzard is committed to supporting OWL going forward. They have added eight more teams to the roster this year and increased prize pools drastically. Last year’s $125,000 prize pool is now $500,000.
The inaugural season in 2018 had a newness factor that bolstered numbers. People were interested in seeing just what the Overwatch League would look like. Given the 2019 numbers, even with limited meta so far, we’re seeing a lot of excitement from viewers.
Stage One of the Overwatch League saw the GOATs meta in every game. Zarya, D.Va, Reinhardt, Lucio, Zenyatta, and Brigitte have been present in almost every map and match with only a few more characters being interchangeable, like Sombra or Winston. Anytime a team chose to go off GOATs, the crowds were ecstatic.
The upcoming patch will introduce a new hero, Baptiste, along with changes to over a dozen heroes, including those in GOATs. What this means is a shakeup of the meta. We’ll see diversity in team comps, giving viewers more exciting matches.
Overwatch League isn’t going anywhere, not with how much Blizzard is putting into it. We’ve seen strong enthusiasm throughout Stage One and have three more Stages left to go this year. The coming updates suggest a huge shift in the meta that will reinvigorate the competitors and give viewers exciting matches.
Those changes will be good for long-term engagement and encourage growth in the coming months. Steady growth is what OWL needs, and we’ll see what Stage 2 brings. Suffice it to say, 2019 is looking like a good year for the Overwatch League.