Exclusive: Activision Blizzard Leagues Launch Esports Betting Partnership With Sportradar

Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League and brand new Call of Duty League partner up with Sportradar to protect leagues from any betting-related corruption.
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The Overwatch League and Call of Duty League, which are part of Activision Blizzard  (ATVI) - Get Report, have announced a collaboration with Sportradar.

The agreement will allow Sportradar to monitor “global betting activity related to domestic and international Overwatch League and Call of Duty League competitions organized by Activision Blizzard Esports and will report any potential integrity issues to the company to help safeguard the integrity of the competitions,” the companies said in a press release.

“The Call of Duty League and Overwatch League are two of the only city-based leagues competing in the world at this time, so it’s not surprising there is increased attention around our live competitions in the absence of traditional sports. Our collaboration with Sportradar is a specific engagement to increase integrity efforts we already have in place. We welcome new and returning viewers to watch the best players in the world competing live on YouTube, whether they are placing bets or not, said Pete Vlastelica, Activision Blizzard esports CEO and Commissioner of the Overwatch League told TheStreet and Sports Illustrated.

“I think this is a big win for gambling on esports simply because, in theory, bookmakers can now use live data to create live betting markets at a fidelity that will make betting on traditional sports seem slow. This is also great news to see publishers getting on board with wagering, I'm interested to see where this partnership goes,” UNIKRN CEO Rahul Sood told Sports Illustrated’s Bill Enright about the partnership.

TheStreet is partnering with Sports Illustrated for more exclusive insight. Read more about esports betting from Sports Illustrated's Bill Enright, SI's Fantasy Expert and Fantasy Pro's back-to-back top 10 accuracy.

While sports stadiums are shuttered and sports fans are forced to scroll endlessly through cable channels to find something to watch, many have either turned to playing video games to pass the time or watching esports online.

In fact, Amazon’s AMZN Twitch is seeing an increase in viewers. Over the past seven days, over two million people have watched Twitch, per Twitch Tracker

Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick noted on the company’s most recent earnings call that the Call of Duty League and the Overwatch League were both able to pivot and ensure the delivery of live esports for fans, even as most sports are unable to continue to even practice.

And the first quarter was meant to launch the inaugural season of the Call of Duty League. The League was originally designed to closely follow the Overwatch League’s format of city-based home stands, which are tournaments played in the home city’s for teams.

“Our esports organization has quickly pivoted to remote production and continues to deliver live esports for both the Call of Duty League and the Overwatch League, a direct result of the hard work and flexibility of our team owners and our sponsors,” Kotick said in the company’s earnings call, which took place on Tuesday, May 5.

“I would say the future [of esports] is bright. While COVID certainly accelerated the adoption of gaming, this was a trend already in progress. Given that, while we may see some pullback post-COVID I think it’s an industry that is now making its mark and one that investors need to take seriously,” Zev Fima, an analyst with Jim Cramer’s Action Alerts PLUS portfolio, said about the esports sector.

“Unlike traditional sports, esports is an equalizer. It’s the only sport where you can have both genders compete against one another and where one league can span multiple continents. Not to mention, from a less competitive perspective it’s similar to social media in that friends can hang out and socialize despite the physical distance,” Fima said.

The portfolio has a position in Take-Two Interactive  (TTWO) - Get Report.

Fima also noted that he, and the portfolio, are closely watching esports betting.

Activision Blizzard is up around 55% in the past year.

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