Activision Blizzard is allowing franchises in two of its most popular leagues to defer franchise fees because of the financial damage the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked throughout the esports world, the Washington Post reported Tuesday.
Teams in the Overwatch League and Call of Duty League will be allowed to defer fees in the millions of dollars that were originally due this year, according to the report that cited two people holding senior roles in the leagues.
While the pandemic brought the sports world to a halt in the United States in March, its impact on the esports world happened earlier, with travel restrictions slamming leagues around the globe as early as January.
Both the OWL and CDL were banking on live events (known as LAN events in the esports world) in front of sold-out arenas.
The CDL is primarily a North American league, with nine of its team in the United States, one in Toronto, one in Paris and one in London. The OWL has a North American division and an Asian division, with 20 combined teams in North America, Asia and Europe.
But once the pandemic hit, both leagues went to online-only formats, which not only cost the franchises gate revenues but also led to postponements, travel issues for players trying to get to their teams’ home bases and server issues and glitches that, in the case of the CDL, stretched into the playoffs.
The Dallas Empire won the CDL championship on Aug. 30, while the OWL holds its Grand Finals Weekend on Oct. 8-10.
In July, The Esports Observer reported Activision Blizzard was discussing the idea of financial relief with CDL and OWL franchises because of the pandemic. The OWL and CDL also have numerous investors in common among teams, with 10 of the 12 CDL owners also having teams in the OWL — such as NRG Esports, Misfits Gaming and Atlanta Esports Ventures.
–Field Level Media