‘Call of Duty’ Leading Esports Rise

    • Johanna Faries of Activision Blizzard has helped the company capitalize on esports’ unique ability to recover from the pandemic's setbacks.
    • Call of Duty League viewership was up 23% year-over-year for its regular season and over 100% for the championship event.

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This past Sunday’s final match of the Call of Duty League’s opening weekend of play was the most-watched regular season game in the league’s history.

When traditional live sports viewership took a hit last year, CDL viewership was up 23% year-over-year for its regular season and over 100% for the championship event, Activision Blizzard told Front Office Sports.

It’s the second year in CDL’s transition from live stadium competitions to remote online events.

“We want to see esports grow as an industry and we’re continuing to see more and more personnel, talent, franchise owners and investors coming in from traditional spaces into our space,” said Head of Leagues for Activision Blizzard and Call of Duty League Commissioner Johanna Faries.

CDL’s success in its inaugural season placed it in a rare position among esports leagues. It had a 27% share of live esports on YouTube in the first quarter of 2020; that grew to 44% by Q3.

“I think that bodes well for how quickly we’re going to see growth here — not just for CDL and the Overwatch League, but again for the entire industry,” said Faries.