Overwatch developer Blizzard Entertainment has revealed that opening week viewership for the Overwatch League (OWL) has improved over its inaugural season numbers by 30%.
According to Unikrn, OWL Season 2’s Opening Week had more than 13 million unique viewers, with a 440,000-strong average audience per minute.
Blizzard said they pulled those figures from all OWL broadcast platforms worldwide, including the ESPN app, Disney XD, Twitch, Chinese streaming platforms, and MLG.tv.
That data supported suspicions from early league reports that claimed –despite a lower viewership on opening day — OWL viewership has been growing overall.
Viewership statistics from the OWL Twitch broadcast alone were clear indicators of audience growth for the league. The Twitch broadcast hit a peak of 297,000 viewers during opening week, with similar average audience per minute numbers from Blizzard’s total.
For comparison, the Grand Finals of the OWL’s inaugural season last year averaged 861,000 viewers per minute, with the total viewership numbers hitting 10.8 million viewers over two days.
The spike in viewership can be mainly attributed to the fact that there are more teams in the OWL for Season 2. With eight expansion teams — namely the Atlanta Reign, Chengdu Hunters, Guangzhou Charge, Hangzhou Spark, Paris Eternal, Toronto Defiant, Vancouver Titans, and Washington Justice — across multiple regions, growth was very much expected.
More teams meant there were more matches to watch, leading to longer broadcast days that give fans more opportunities to tune in. Having more teams from Europe and China also helps pull in more fans and viewers from those regions as well.
Other helpful factors for the OWL include it being available on far more platforms than last year, as well as its adjusted Saturday and Sunday game times that better coincide with European viewership.
Early successes with its viewership such as this will be instrumental for the OWL as it aims for not just more growth, but stability as well.