Activision Blizzard Moves Away From Twitch, Partners With YouTube Gaming

Activision Blizzard Moves Away From Twitch, Partners With YouTube Gaming

The Overwatch League and more will stream exclusively with Google.

In recent months, the battle for game streaming audiences has largely played out between Microsoft and Amazon, as the former tries to gain ground on Twitch by siphoning away top talents for Mixer. Now, Activision Blizzard is helping Google's YouTube Gaming make a major move. In a new deal, YouTube is now home to the exclusive streaming broadcasts of the Overwatch League, the newly launched Call of Duty League, Hearthstone tournaments, and more.

The exclusivity deal was announced in a new press release alongside word that Google Cloud is now "the preferred provider Activision Blizzard's game hosting infrastructure." YouTube exclusivity for official Activision Blizzard streams is going into effect immediately, as the very first Call of Duty League event kicks off this weekend.

While YouTube Gaming is by no means an unpopular platform, an end-of-year report by StreamElements and streaming analytics platform puts it at a distant second place, with only 21 percent of market share by hours watched to Twitch's 73 percent. Furthermore, both platforms ceded some ground to Facebook Gaming and Mixer in 2019. Last summer, Mixer started to poach talent from Twitch beginning with Tyler "Ninja" Blevins and Michael "Shroud" GrzesiekFacebook and YouTube have both signed lower-profile deals with individual streamers since.

The risk inherent in moving official streams of popular games like Overwatch and Hearthstone to a smaller platform has already been demonstrated by Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Dota 2, which saw tournament viewership drop after ESL moved its exclusive streams from YouTube to Facebook in 2018. That deal was later renewed with the exclusivity terms removed.

Activision Blizzard's cloud services deal with Google alone is a break between the publisher and Amazon, as the two have publicly partnered on Amazon Web Services-powered projects for Call of Duty titles in the past.

It won't be long before we find out how Activision Blizzard's streams are faring after the decision. The 2020 Overwatch League season begins on February 8: last year's opening week attracted 13 million viewers across Twitch (then its exclusive third-party streaming partner) and other platforms.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. See our terms & conditions.

Mathew Olson


Mathew Olson is a writer formerly of Digg, where he blogged and reported about all things under the umbrella of internet culture (including games, of course). He lives in New York, grew up under rain clouds and the influence of numerous games studios in the Pacific Northwest, and will talk your ear off about Half-Life mods, Talking Heads or Twin Peaks if you let him.

In other news

Disintegration Will Gradually Shutter Its Multiplayer, Starting Today

The bikes are setting back down on the ground.

Medal of Honor's VR Comeback Is Slated for a December Launch

Respawn's reboot is coming to Oculus headsets, as well as SteamVR.

Left 4 Dead 2 Is Getting a Massive Fan-Made and Valve-Approved Update

The Last Stand Update adds a new campaign and a whole lot more.

Quake's Soundtrack Just Got a Vinyl Remaster

Nine Inch Nails' classic tracks have been remastered for vinyl.

Need help?

Call of Duty Modern Warfare Weapons Tier List

Here's our guide compiling the Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2019 weapons list, including all weapon unlock levels, and more.

Borderlands 3 Shift Codes List (August 2020)

All the info you need on getting and redeeming SHiFT Codes in Borderlands 3, plus how to get Golden Keys to earn loot.

Destiny 2 Xenophage Quest - How to Get the New Xenophage Machine Gun

This is how to complete the Destiny 2 Xenophage quest, including all puzzles, and more.

Apex Legends Wattson - Abilities, Skins, How to Win With Wattson Apex Legends

This is our guide to Wattson in Apex Legends, featuring all her legendary skins, new abilities, tips, and more.