Activision Blizzard allow Overwatch, Call of Duty leagues to defer franchise fees due to COVID-19

With the pandemic, entertainment-based companies are taking financial hits. Esports is no different, especially with the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League. These two leagues, both overseen by Activision Blizzard, were heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. But, it seems that they are willing to help some organizations get through at least another year financially. Activision Blizzard have announced that they will allow companies to defer high-cost payments due this year to future years.

Unfortunately for Activision Blizzard, this pandemic affected both their leagues heavily. The Overwatch League was in its third season, looking to finally host games all over the world with their franchises. The Call of Duty League was in the middle of their first season and determined to keep their momentum. However, as the news came in involving how dangerous COVID-19 was, they eventually had to shut down all physical venues. There is no doubt this lost them plenty of income for this year. It was the choice that needed to be done, but it was sad nonetheless.

The transition to online play

Activision Blizzard did work around the pandemic and continued both their seasons to finish them off. The Overwatch League is waiting until October 8 to play their Grand Finals weekend and crown their 2020 champion. The Call of Duty League ended with a Dallas Empire victory in front of a big crowd online. Both leagues were trending well with viewership, even with the issues they faced doing a lot from their own homes. This success seems to have led Activision Blizzard to give companies who had hope in these leagues more time to stay and play.

Even though we still don’t know for sure how much these payments are, the rumored amount is somewhere in the $20 to 25 million dollar range. A part of that payment would’ve been due this year, but teams are getting options: let it sit until next year and pay then, or just continue paying now.

How have teams reacted to the payments?

This news should be good news for all organizations in these two leagues. Having another year to wait and save before paying these fees lets these companies continue without having to leave or cut staff and players to move on. For example, Philadelphia Fusion President Tucker Roberts mentioned how “it’s been a touch year for everybody.” Roberts also said how Blizzard has “worked with us to make sure there’s support.” It seems that these companies have confidence in the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League to stay.

From a team standpoint, president and CEO of Overactive Media (who own the Toronto Defiant and Ultra) Chris Overholt also chimed in. “When you take that long-term view to the industry the conversation becomes, I think, a lot, a lot easier,” Overholt stated

This idea of financial relief did arise earlier back in July with the COD League. Keeping these teams together and making fans happy during these tough times should be paramount. And with how Activision Blizzard is responding, it seems they agree. Keep the games going, and worry about the payments later if you want. We need everyone involved to keep this thing afloat for the future.

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