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Overwatch and Call of Duty leagues move to YouTube in exclusive Google deal

Google Cloud will also serve as the infrastructure for Activision and Blizzard’s online games

Overwatch’s Tracer points her guns in a piece of key artwork Image: Blizzard Entertainment
Michael McWhertor is a journalist with more than 17 years of experience covering video games, technology, movies, TV, and entertainment.

Activision Blizzard and Google have teamed up for a deal to exclusively stream live esports broadcasts, including Overwatch League, Call of Duty League, and Hearthstone Esports, on YouTube. Blizzard Entertainment previously had a deal with Twitch to broadcast esports and live tournaments.

As part of the deal, Activision Blizzard’s online games will also employ Google Cloud to “deliver superior, low-latency player experiences,” according to a joint news release from the companies. That includes server infrastructure for hosting games.

Activision Blizzard and Google have already worked together on some of the publisher’s mobile titles, the companies said. The expanded relationship will use Google’s worldwide cloud services to offer “optimal personalized interactions, as Activision Blizzard can tap into Google Cloud’s AI tools to offer curated recommendations for in-game offers and differentiated gaming experiences.”

The multiyear deal also means Blizzard Entertainment’s Overwatch League has a new home. While the first two seasons of the esports league were broadcast on Twitch, the 2020 season will stream exclusively on YouTube (outside of China) starting Feb. 8.

Activision’s inaugural season of the Call of Duty League — which kicks off Friday — will also stream on YouTube, as will Blizzard’s official Hearthstone Esports tournaments.