The network will air the inaugural Overwatch League Grand Finals in prime time this month as part of a multiyear agreement to bring esports to the biggest sports platform on American television.
Disney and Blizzard Entertainment announced plans Wednesday to broadcast the OWL?s playoffs and championship on ESPN Trent Murphy Jersey , ABC and Disney XD. The Grand Finals on July 27 will be shown live on ESPN, marking the first time the network will carry esports in prime time.
?We think that really reflects the commitment they?re making to the category,? said Pete Vlastelica, President and CEO of Activision Blizzard Esports Leagues.
Coverage begins Wednesday with the playoffs on Disney XD and ESPN3. There will be 10 hours total of Grand Finals coverage, including a recap show July 29 on ABC. Disney?s networks will also broadcast OWL matches next season. Financial terms of the partnership were not disclosed.
Overwatch is a team-based first-person shooter, with two teams of six players competing over various objectives. The OWL has city-based teams in four countries, including nine US franchises plus teams in London, Seoul and Shanghai. The league plans to expand after its first season.
?There?s no doubt that this partnership will increase the reach of our league content,? Vlastelica said. ?And open up, have access to a new audience that maybe doesn?t spend so much time streaming content online Kentavius Street Jersey , but who has heard of esports and is familiar with gaming and who?s a big sports fan.?
The playoffs will take place at Blizzard?s esports arena in Burbank, California, and the Grand Finals will be held at the Barclays Center in New York.
The OWL had been streaming all matches on Twitch, a livestream platform owned by Amazon, and it will continue to provide simulcasts there through at least 2019. The league signed a two-year agreement with Twitch prior to this season and drew 10 million viewers to the platform on its opening weekend, besting Amazon?s NFL ?Thursday Night Football? numbers from the 2017 season.
This won?t be ESPN?s first foray into events that aren?t strictly sports. Its programming has included the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the World Series of Poker and the Drum Corps International championship. ESPN also aired part of the FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series in 2017, and it previously partnered with Blizzard Entertainment on ?Heroes of the Dorm,? an esports tournament for college gamers.
Esports have made headway into the mainstream over the past year, with the International Olympic Committee stating its interest in adding video games last fall. The IOC is set to host an esports forum this month to explore adding video games to the Olympics.
Terrell Owens has decided to celebrate his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame at Chattanooga O. J. Simpson Jersey , where he played college football.
The former NFL All-Pro receiver, who has said he was not attending the induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, released a statement on Tuesday saying he would give his acceptance speech at his alma mater.
?I have decided to give my Hall of Fame speech at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in McKenzie Arena on Saturday, August 4,? Owens posted on Twitter. ?The event, which is free and open to the public, starts at 3:17 p.m.?
Owens added that he is ?proud to be a Moc, and I?m honored to be able to share this experience with my family, friends Kyle Wilber Jersey , teammates and fans at the place that provided me an opportunity beyond high school and where I truly began to find myself as an athlete.?
The 44-year-old Owens said he is looking forward to the event, and ?Getcha popcorn ready.?
Owens was a three-sport athlete at Chattanooga, where he played football from 1992-95. He also played basketball and ran track for the Mocs. Owens said he ?realized just how much I want to celebrate what will inevitably be the best weekend of my life at a place that means so much to me.?
He was voted into the hall in February after being denied in his first two years of eligibility. His announcement last month that he was skipping the Aug. 4 induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame is unprecedented by an enshrinee.
In a statement released last month by his publicist, Owens said: ?While I am incredibly appreciative of this opportunity, I have made the decision to publicly decline my invitation to attend the induction ceremony in Canton.
?After visiting Canton earlier this year, I came to the realization that I wish to celebrate what will be one of the most memorable days of my life, elsewhere,? Owens added. ?At a later date, I will announce where and when I will celebrate my induction.?
Chattanooga athletic director Mark Wharton said Tuesday that Owens first spoke with school officials ?several months ago? about the possibility of having some type of event in Chattanooga. At the time, Owens hadn?t yet indicated he was skipping the Canton induction ceremony.
Wharton said Owens spoke with them again ?two to three weeks ago? about the possibility of giving his induction speech on campus and that officials were ?ecstatic? about the idea.
?Obviously we supported him going to Canton Nathan Peterman Jersey ,? Wharton said. ?At the time, there hadn?t been any living Hall of Fame members who did not go to Canton, so our assumption was that he was (going to Canton). But in multiple conversations with him and his team, he felt most comfortable doing it in a place that molded him into the player and person he is today.?
Wharton said the specifics of the Aug. 4 ceremony haven?t been finalized, but he expects a weekend full of events around town honoring Owens.
Owens entered the league as a third-round pick by San Francisco in 1996 and developed into a star known for some memorable playoff appearances, including his winning 25-yard TD catch to beat Green Bay in 1999; his 177 yards in a comeback win against the Giants in 2003; and his nine catches for 122 yards in the 2004 Super Bowl against New England just seven weeks after breaking his leg.
He ranks second to Jerry Rice with 15,934 yards receiving and is third on the all-time touchdowns receiving list with 153.
Owens heavily criticized the voting process when he failed to be elected in 2016 and 2017. Among the reasons he fell short were his being considered a divisive teammate and negative presence in the locker room.
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this report.