Blizzard may be promoting and pushing Overwatch to the moon, and working with Twitter to force-feed people trends for the Overwatch League during top weekly bouts, but the reality is that all of this corporate gerrymandering has not helped overall viewership averages for Blizzard’s team-focused first-person shooter.
In fact, if you chart the trends throughout April, you’ll note that Overwatch has been losing viewership at regular intervals, so much so that from the first week of April to the last week of April, they lost more than 1.1 million viewers across Twitch, or approximately 16% of their total viewership, going from 7.3 million viewers at the start of the month, down to 6.2 million viewers to end the month.
Esports Observer‘s highlights for the first week of April – between April 2nd and April 8th, 2018 – saw Overwatch topping out its cumulative viewership numbers at 7.3 million. Respectable numbers, no doubt. It came in sixth behind IRL and Dota 2, the latter of which topped out the first week of April with 10.9 million viewers.
Charting through April was not good, though. As pointed out in a report by the TEO on April 9th, 2018, the week of the third stage opening was the lowest yet, averaging 133,000 viewers across three Twitch channels for the Overwatch League.
The cold open – despite media promoting the League’s first female player in the form of Kim “Geguri” Se-yeon joining the Shanghai Dragons – didn’t change much throughout April. In fact, the low numbers during the third stage season opener for the Overwatch League was a tale that was woven throughout the entirety of April when compared to the double digits the League received during February.
While the numbers during the second and third week actually went up, gaining 8.6 million viewers and 7.9 million viewers respectively, the final week of April took a massive dip in viewership numbers. This is where the game rounded out with its worst week yet, and ended the month at 6.2 million viewers, losing more than 1.1 million viewers compared to the start of the month.
The Esports Observer noted in their report that this might not just be a one-off (or two-off) downturn for the Overwatch League. As other games on the chart also took hits coming out of April compared to when they went into the month, keep in mind that this is still the inaugural season for the Overwatch League and it’s having a hard time staying above a single-player game like God of War for the PS4.
TEO’s Jordan Fragen observed…
“[…] But more troubling signs may be ahead for the OWL. Last week was the fourth of Stage 3 and the OWL brought in 3.0M hours watched. The only week that brought in fewer hours was week 4 of Stage 1, which earned 2.7M hours watched. With playoffs more than six weeks away and five weeks of regular season games to go, the league’s format or the sheer number of games to watch might be starting to wear on fans.”
Sheer number of games might be an issue, but then what about Hearthstone? The game started the month in a slump at 6.5 million viewers, but then etched out a respectable 8.5 million average during the final week of April.
Nevertheless, the spikes during the middle of April for the Overwatch League obviously didn’t last. The League did end on a much higher note than how it ended March, which topped out at just 4.4 million viewers after heading into March with 6.6 million viewers.
There’s still more than a month and a half to go before the playoffs, and if the numbers keep declining, it won’t look good for the future of the Overwatch League.
(Main image courtesy of DarknessRingoGallery)