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Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 was poised to promote esports-related growth for Activision’s flagship franchise from the outset. When Call of Duty World League play kicked off in December with a Las Vegas open, the official Call of Duty channel on Twitch saw its highest viewership of 2018.
Since then, viewership for CoD as an esports has had consistent year-over-year growth, and the CWL World Championship is no exception. The event’s 2.7M hours watched on Twitch averaged 66K concurrent viewers, peaking at 182K.
That viewership marked 50% growth in terms of hours watched year-over-year. Last year, the event produced 1.8M hours watched on the main CoD Twitch channel with an average of 37K CCV, peaking at 141K.
The increased interest in CoD by fans comes right before a structural overhaul for the CWL. Following a model akin to the Overwatch League, Activision Blizzard announced this year that it planned to pour more resources into CWL (which will now go under the name Call of Duty Global League) and transition it to a geolocated, franchise-style league.
In the past few years, numerous high-profile investors have added esports interests to their portfolio, and esports leagues conforming to more traditional sports models have been persuasive in attracting people and brands more familiar with leagues like the NBA and NFL.
While it could be assumed that viewership would receive a boost from Activision’s announcements regarding changes for the league, the CWL was already experiencing viewership growth prior to announcements of a new format and model coming in 2020. With the addition of these new changes that will cater to a more wide-ranging audience in the coming season, Activision seems to have set CWL up for even more growth.
After the Las Vegas open in December that served as the biggest event for the CoD channel in 2018, CWL viewership on the official CoD Twitch channel produced 13.5M hours watched from the beginning of this year through last week’s World Championship.
In just eight months, the CoD channel has outperformed its viewership from 2018 when it had 12.7M hours watched for the entirety of the year, including the Las Vegas event that kicked off the 2019 season. Excluding coverage for that tournament, the channel had 10.5M hours watched from January through November in 2018.
As Activision Blizzard continues to execute its plan to make Call of Duty esports more appealing to a broader audience by making changes to the CWL, the 2019 season itself has provided growth in viewership that could set the new league format up for even stronger potential value as a spectator esport in 2020.
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