Entrance into Blizzard’s Overwatch League was always going to be expensive. But just how expensive? League slots for major markets are being estimated in the range of $6 to $15 million, according to Sports Business Journal.
The last time Blizzard revealed concrete information on its upcoming Overwatch League was around four months ago at its initial announcement in November. Numbers have never been discussed by Blizzard, however.
Blizzard is beginning to open up about other aspects of the League. Despite concerns that the league won’t begin around July as expected, Overwatch esports global director Nate Nanzer told Sports Business Journal that everything is going as planned. “We’re totally on schedule,” he said. “In terms of the actual nuts and bolts of the league in 2017 and content production, all that, there’s no delays there at all. You probably understand the amount of legal work that goes into doing this, and that time between Blizzcon and today has been spent finalizing legal documents.”
Silence from Blizzard leaves potential teams and investors with only speculation, and established esports organizations are feeling the stress of that. In January, European esports organization Reunited ceased operations citing the Overwatch League timing as a major complication. Non-endemic organizations just aren’t willing to invest without more explicit information from the Overwatch developer. CompLexity Gaming founder Jason Lake echoed this sentiment to Sports Business Journal.
“The drought of information since the initial announcement has investor interest in a holding pattern, which is a difficult position when we continue to have to burn rates to sustain the team,” Lake said.
Activision Blizzard reportedly hoped to field franchise bids for team locations for up to $15 million. Smaller markets were reportedly targeted for $2 to $5 million, Sports Business Journal sources reported, with big cities like Los Angeles in the $6 to $15 million range. Nanzer declined Sports Business Journal comment on franchise cost.
The high cost of entry is likely too much for esports franchises alone. Should the Overwatch League take off as Blizzard hopes, it means continued investment from sports-adjacent franchises like the Philadephia 76ers and Delaware North.
But until Blizzard wants to talk, investors will just have to wait for more information. As it turns out, it’s not easy work to set up an esports league, Nanzer said. “We’re making a lot of progress and I think we’re going to be talking a lot more about this soon,” he added.