Overwatch League Grand Finals Grows Audience to 1.1M Average Viewers

Courtesy of Overwatch League
San Francisco Shock players celebrate their victory in the Overwatch League Grand Finals.

The second season of the esports league's championship matches reached a 16 percent larger audience than its predecessor.

Activision Blizzard's second annual Overwatch League Grand Finals, held in Philadelphia over the weekend, reached an audience of 1.1 million average viewers, a 16 percent increase over the 2018 event, the company revealed Thursday. 

Partnering with Nielsen, Activision Blizzard measured its audience using an average minute audience (AMA) model, which calculates the average number of people watching a broadcast at any minute during broadcast, determined by total minutes watched divided by the number of total viewing individuals. The data includes viewership numbers from digital platforms such as Twitch and linear broadcaster ABC. All data includes figures from live and 24 hours rebroadcast viewership.

The viewership for the Grand Finals (which saw the San Francisco Shock sweep the Vancouver Titans) delivered a much higher U.S. AMA audience than regular season matches. The average U.S. AMA number for OWL's regular season was 95,000 viewers, while the Grand Finals brought in 472,000 watchers.

Both figures represent major increases in OWL's audience. The regular season number is up 34 percent from 2018, while the finals delivered a 41 percent uptick. 

Overall AMA viewership for OWL's 2019 season outperformed traditional sports leagues such as the MLB and Major League Soccer with U.S. audiences aged 18-34. Meanwhile, OWL is the only American sports league that saw an increase in viewership year-over-year, while all others (including the NFL and NBA) declined.