One of the next major sites of the ongoing streaming wars looks to be competitive esports. While many of the largest streaming services are already buying up rights to professional sports left and right, competitive video gaming, or esports, has thus far remained mostly relegated to dedicated esports streaming services like Twitch. That all is set to change this week as YouTube secured exclusive streaming rights to three of the world’s most popular esports: Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Hearthstone.

YouTube’s acquisition of the Call of Duty, Overwatch, and Hearthstone streaming rights was announced in a press release last week. All three games are owned by Activision Blizzard, Inc. “We’ve worked closely with Activision Blizzard for the past few years across mobile titles to boost its analytics capabilities and overall player experience,” said Google’s Sunil Rayan, Head of Gaming. “We are excited to now expand our relationship and help power one of the largest and most renowned game developers in the world.” 

Similarly, Activision Blizzard Chief Information Officer Jacques Erasmus says that the Google Cloud infrastructure will allow for a much broader market reach for streaming three of the world’s most popular games. “We’re excited to partner with Google to drive the next generation of gaming innovation for the industry,” said Erasmus. “Google Cloud’s best-in-class infrastructure gives us the confidence to deliver great entertainment to our fans around the world.”

The move to YouTube comes just in time for the launch of newly-created esports leagues for all three games including Call of Duty League, Overwatch League, Hearthstone esports, in addition to streaming events and leagues for other Activision Blizzard, Inc. games. Some analysts have predicted that 2020 will be a huge year in terms of Google’s expansion into the gaming world. Google launched its Stadia game streaming service last year on which players can play games directly off of Stadia servers at 4K resolution.

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