Credit: Blizzard Entertainment
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Viewership for the Overwatch League took a dip this past week as the league returned to action for Stage Three after taking an elongated mid-season break. Last season, OWL saw a consistent decline in viewership each stage leading to Stage Three, and week one of the stage this year has produced the same results paired with a year-over-year decline in average viewership as well.
With a total of 16 games played, four more than the 12 played during the first week of Stage Three last year, the league pulled 3.2M hours watched for live coverage on the main OWL Twitch channel combined with other top alternate-language broadcasts, up slightly from 3.16M hours watched last year.
The boost in hours watched came with a significant decrease in average viewership though. Saturday produced the highest average viewership for live coverage with 95K concurrent viewers across the main OWL channel combined with French, Korean, Portuguese, and Russian-language broadcasts. That figure is down from last year when each day of live action averaged at least 112K CCV, and Friday’s broadcast drew an average of 133K CCV across the English, French, and Korean broadcasts alone.
The downward year-over-year trend in viewership comes following Stage Two where average viewership was down from Stage Two of the inaugural season outside of the league’s first-ever homestead weekend in Dallas. However, that homestead weekend had a shortened schedule and was only played across two days.
Overall, the main OWL channel on Twitch reached 3M hours watched from Thursday-Sunday for all airtime, including re-runs and peripheral coverage. The figure is down slightly from the first week of Stage Three in 2018 generating 3.1M from April 4-7.
The decline in overall hours watched was matched with a dip in average overall viewership on the main OWL channel as well. This year’s average CCV of 46K for all coverage, including re-runs, was down from 60K CCV last year.
Peak viewership on the main OWL channel of 105K CCV came during Friday’s broadcast that was highlighted by a five-map affair between one of the league’s top teams in the New York Excelsior and the Houston Outlaws . No other broadcast managed to eclipse the 100K CCV mark.
While Twitch remains the primary platform for measuring viewership habits of the core Western esports audience, it does not represent the totality of Overwatch League viewership. Fans can watch the action on OWL’s official website, Battle.net, and MLG. Additionally, matches are streamed in China on Zhanqi.tv, NetEase CC, Bilibili, and Huya, and Blizzard also has a deal to broadcast matches on Disney-owned platforms including ESPN, ABC, and Disney XD.