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Published: June 8, 2023

Written by: Stefan Velikov

  • If the rumors are true, the deal is almost finalized
  • This is likely linked to Activision wanting to cover a lot of lost revenue from unpaid team fees
  • Details about the deal, like what will happen to third-party Twitch streams, remain unknown

Despite an initial exclusivity broadcasting deal between the CDL and YouTube a few years ago falling out, it seems the partnership will finally happen.

CDL Might Sign Exclusivity Deal

Modern Warfare II’s Call of Duty League matches have been streamed across both Twitch and YouTube throughout the competitive season. Initially, this was done only on the Amazon-owned platform, but in an attempt to reach a larger audience, the League decided to reach out to YouTube as well. Since then, the CDL has managed to hit several peaks in viewership, reaching 330 000 concurrent watchers during Major 3. 

If recent rumors are true, however, the League will be signing an exclusive broadcast deal with YouTube. Such a deal has been in the works previously, but it received massive backlash from the fan base, resulting in it not being signed initially. Despite that, if esports journalist Jacob Hale’s sources are correct, we will be seeing the CDL broadcasting exclusively on YouTube, starting with the Modern Warfare III season in 2023/24.

“I’ve been told this is a 2-year exclusivity deal that will see the league through 2025,” Hale wrote in a follow-up tweet. “The move was almost inevitable given the financial restructuring currently occurring in the Overwatch League, which could reportedly also extend to the CDL. There is an owner’s meeting occurring at Champs where some execs will no doubt air their grievances with the plan.”

Why an Exclusive YouTube Deal?

The CDL’s alleged deal is likely related to finances. Some time ago, Activision agreed to “eliminate any outstanding entry fees” for the Overwatch League team Toronto Defiant. Rumors are that the rest of the Overwatch League teams would also go through such a decision, so it’s highly likely CDL teams could ask for a similar kind of deal.

CDL organizations have not been paying their agreed entry fees since the start of the global health crisis in 2020. If Activision waves away these entry fees, they will likely lose over $100 million. In this case, an exclusive broadcasting deal with YouTube will likely be necessary for the company to recoup that lost revenue.

What Will Happen to Watch Parties?

If this deal goes through, there remains the question of watch parties. Several popular streamers, like Thomas “ZooMaa” Paparatto and Seth “Scump” Abner have been crucial in the CDL reaching as many people as they did, as the content creators broadcasted it on their respective channels. Scump’s co-streams alone amassed more viewers than the official Call of Duty Twitch channel.

It’s still unknown how these top CoD celebrities, which draw thousands of viewers to the product, will be integrated into the new deal, if they even are. It’s more likely they will not be able to co-stream on Twitch, therefore the CDL may lose a significant portion of its viewers.

There are still many questions surrounding the reported deal, like when exactly is it going to happen or how much will it cost. However, it’s almost certain that Activision and YouTube will finalize it sometime soon.

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