ESPN to Broadcast eSports Competitions


Walt Disney Co. will air video game competitions on ESPN and Disney XD starting this month after signing a multi-year agreement with Blizzard Entertainment Inc.

The Burbank entertainment and media giant will give coverage to the Overwatch League playoffs starting Wednesday on both its cable networks, with day one of the finals airing in primetime on ESPN. A recap show will air on July 29 on ABC, the first time an esports competition has aired on that broadcast network.

Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision Blizzard in Santa Monica, created the Overwatch League as the first major global professional esports league with teams in Asia, Europe and North America.

Marc Buhaj, senior vice president of programing and general manager for Disney XD, said that Blizzard has made the Overwatch League into a genre-leading esports franchise.

“Together with our telecast partners at ESPN, we look forward to growing a legion of new Overwatch fans across the next two years,” Buhaj said in a statement.

Last year, Blizzard opened its Blizzard Arena Los Angeles at the Burbank Studios, long-time home to “The Tonight Show.”

Shares in Disney closed up $2.04, or nearly 2 percent, to $108.04 on the New York Stock Exchange.

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