Activision Blizzard Esports wants to turn its primetime slots on YouTube for Call of Duty League and Overwatch League into its version of the NFL’s “Sunday Night Football,” as it’s placing more emphasis this year on flexing in the best matchups.
CDL got its season underway this past weekend and reported viewership gains, with the Optic Chicago–Atlanta Faze on primetime Sunday night earning an average of 118K viewers and peaking at 131K. Those are both records for the second-year property.
Brandon Snow, chief revenue officer at ABE, didn’t have specifics on how much of a heads up teams get before a possible flexing situation but confirmed that the league has the ability to do so and is focusing more on it this year. It’s a tool to help grow viewership as the property seeks to grow with media-rights partner YouTube from a solid but still relatively modest viewership base last year.
“One of the things we’ve been trying to focus on is creating primetime matchups,” Snow said. “Like ‘Monday Night Football’ or ‘Sunday Night Football,’ that primetime window is critical for us, our sponsors and partners.”
Snow said the league tries to give teams ample heads up if a flex is taking place. He added that the flexing isn’t just about big names but also which teams are performing well.
The renewed focus on flexing comes after the hire of former MLB executive Tony Petitti, who now serves as Activision Blizzard president of sports and entertainment.
“It has been something we see as critical to putting our best product forward when we know it’s hard for people to sometimes watch three matches a day,” Snow said. “It’s something we’ve taken from traditional sports.”
CDL’s second week of the 2021 season gets under way tomorrow.
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