Do you like Blizzard games like Overwatch and Hearthstone? Do you like watching them competitively? Well then I hope you also like Twitch because today the company announced that the video game streaming platform has locked-down 3rd party rights to become the exclusive home of competitive Blizzard esports streaming outside of Blizzard themselves.
In a press release sent out by Twitch today, the San Francisco-based social video platform announced that the company will have third-party rights to stream select Blizzard esports content through 2018. This includes rights to stream esports championship games for Blizzard titles such as Heroes of the Storm Global Championship. StarCraft II World Championship Series, Hearthstone Global Games, and the Overwatch Premier Series.
Basically what this means is that other than Blizzard, who could host their own championship games, Twitch will be the only third-party platform where these esport games can be available to watch. So don't expect to see competitive Overwatch on competing streaming platforms like YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter.
As part of the collaboration between Blizzard and Twitch, Twitch Prime members will also receive in-game bonuses for select Blizzard games like Overwatch, Hearthstone, and Heroes of the Storm starting today (June 20th). As of today, Twitch Prime members can redeem a Golden Loot Box for Overwatch which is guaranteed to have a legendary item, with 10 additional Overwatch loot boxes incoming over the next couple months up until August 10. Similar promotional offers will be given to Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone.
"We've had great experiences and a long history of working with Twitch, and we'r ethrilled that this landmark agreement with them will help us bring some of the most exciting esports action in the world to Twitch fans and everyone who follows Blizzard esports," said Frank Pearce, Blizzard's chief product officer and co-founder.
Esports has rapidly become an interesting venture over at Blizzard with the company planning an ambitious rollout for their newly formed professional Overwatch division. Despite some controversies, including reports that the buy-in prices are too steep for some professional esports teams, Blizzard is gearing up esports in a big way with partnering with Twitch. Despite some of the platform's shortcomings, Twitch is already one of the biggest names in video game streaming, and I'll be particularly interested to see how the platform adapts to a global audience, where Blizzard games enjoy particular popularity overseas.