Two major esports companies will join the 2017 Walt Disney Corporation Accelerator Program, and the Overwatch League moves closer to kick off with the announcement of the first seven franchise teams and owners.
Esports continues to attract the interest of the biggest mainstream brands in the world after the Walt Disney Corporation selected aXiomatic and Epic Games to take part in their 2017 Accelerator Program.
The program, born in 2014, welcomes early and venture-backed tech companies sharing a common goal to make dreams come true in the world of media and entertainment.
AXiomatic is an esports ownership group led by the Golden State Warriors co-owner Peter Guber and the Chairman of Monumental Sports & Entertainment Ted Leonsis. Last year, AXiomatic acquired a controlling stake in the legendary esports team Team Liquid, of which PokerStars Team Pros Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, and Randy “nanonoko” Lew are members.
Epic Games is the genius behind the Unreal Engine tech used by a large swathe of gaming developers, and the brains behind the highly popular Gears of War console game.
AXiomatic, Epic Games and the other nine lucky blighters who were accepted will share LA office space with the brightest minds in Disney, receive investment capital from the giant media company, as well as mentoring and support from the Disney team.
Any intellectual property created during the accelerator belongs to the participating companies, and not Disney.
Speaking about the esports industry in October, the aXiomatic CEO, Bruce Stein stated that aXiomatic were going to make a serious imprint in the esports market but was unsure where the revenue streams would ultimately develop.
One revenue stream must be gambling.
In February, number crunchers Newzoo estimated that esports revenue would exceed $1.5 billion by 2020, and didn’t include betting revenue in those projections instead stating that the esports betting industry would dwarf that number alone.
Blizzard Reveal The First Seven Teams For the Inaugural Overwatch League
Another expansive opportunity for the gambling industry is the creation of Blizzard’s new Overwatch League, and the league’s commissioner Nate Nanzer recently announced the names of the first seven franchises and franchise owners.
• Boston – Robert Kraft, Chairman and CEO of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots
• New York – Jeff Wilpon, Co-Founder and Partner of Sterling.VC and COO of the New York Mets
• Los Angeles – Noah Whinston, CEO of Immortals
• Miami-Orlando – Ben Spoont, CEO and Co-Founder of Misfits Gaming
• San Francisco – Andy Miller, Chairman and Founder of NRG Esports
• Shanghai – NetEase
• Seoul – Kevin Chou, Co-founder of Kabam
The new look league has a Global Poker League (GPL) feel to it, with teams anchored by a city, an unusual move for the esports industry. Nanzer believes this move will allow the teams to generate more revenue through ticket sales, and merchandise by following the same type of model that exists in traditional sports.
The first season of the Overwatch League will take place exclusively in Los Angeles, although a definitive start date is still unknown.
More franchise announcements will arrive in the coming weeks, with rumours pitching pricing around the $20m mark in a 50% revenue split deal with the league.
Overwatch hit the shelves a little over a year ago. It commands a player base of 30 million souls, and some excitable seniors in Blizzard feel it will be bigger than the English Premier League (EPL). In 2015, EPL teams earned a combined £3.6 billion, so Overwatch has some work to do.