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Published: June 9, 2022

Written by: Isabella Aslam

  • The Overwatch League just completed its first stage with a win by the Los Angeles Gladiators
  • The event drew in a whopping 121 000 online viewers
  • However, the average viewership numbers show a concerning trend

The Overwatch League has started its regular season with the Kickoff Clash event which drew in a large number of online viewers.

OWL Opening Event Attracts Many Viewers

Overwatch’s popularity has been fluctuating greatly over the past few months. From hitting 1.4 million viewers on Twitch during its closed beta, to rapidly losing 99% of its viewership just a week later, it’s safe to say the game’s viewership numbers have not been very stable.

However, the tides of fortune are again in Overwatch’s favor, as the Overwatch League finished the first stage of its regular season, the Kickoff Clash, and scored a very respectable peak viewership of 121 227 people.

The event started with the Los Angeles Gladiators claiming the first tournament of 2022 and the viewership figures stayed high the entire day. The other two matches of the Kickoff event also scored more than 100K concurrent viewers, according to Esports Charts.

However, the Numbers Hint at Something Concerning

Although the peak viewership numbers were very good, the average viewership totals for the stage will give OWL some cause for concern. If we compare the same stats to the 2021 May Melee, we will see that this year’s peak viewership improved. However, last year’s event saw an average of 69,138 viewers. Compared to the Kickoff Clash, which only managed an average viewership of 50,201 viewers, these numbers don’t speak well for Overwatch’s popularity.

Overwatch has been losing popularity for quite some time now, largely to the “staleness” of the game. Players have been wanting new content but Blizzard has not been providing the much-needed updates. Gamers finally had a breath of fresh air when Overwatch 2 arrived with a lot of new features. In reality, that was more like a big update rather than a full game, so the hype died down pretty quickly.

The game had another go at generating attention with the League’s decision to transition to five-vs-five play and the debut of new maps and game modes coming with Overwatch 2. With these changes altering the entire way Overwatch is played, it’s natural that fans were curious about what professional play would look like. However, it seems this too has not been enough to recapture the imagination of fans.

Another reason for Overwatch’s struggling viewership numbers is perhaps the extensive technical issues that have plagued OWL broadcasts so far this season. Many viewers have complained about continued issues with framerates while trying to watch the event on YouTube.

The Kickoff Clash marked a return to LAN events for the OWL after almost two years of absence due to Covid-19 restrictions, but the viewership numbers so far have not been great. We’ll just have to wait and see what the League will do to bring back its viewership base.

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