Call of Duty League Launch Results Could Show a Lack of Stability
Compared to its Overwatch counterpart, and even the last iteration of the Call of Duty World League, the CDL is barely treading water.
The Call of Duty League is now pushing into the second event of the season, after concluding its launch weekend at Minnesota. While the views were impressive for YouTube’s platform, the overall statistics display a lack of strength. Compared to its Overwatch counterpart, and even the last iteration of the Call of Duty World League, the CDL is barely treading water.
The launch weekend hit a peak of 102,000 viewers during the Chicago Huntsmen and OpTic Gaming LA match, but this only beat the 2018 CWL Pro League by 2%. And as far as launch events go, the hype just didn’t carry the same weight of the Overwatch League. The debut of the OWL in 2018 437 thousand peak viewers, 324% more than Call of Duty’s launch. This is concerning if simply for the fact that Call of Duty has been a mainstream title since 2003. While the esports scene may not be as explosive, it should have carried heavier viewership and support. Some of this may stem from a shaky start. Back-and-forth news reports from Activision, a change in merchandising, and the absence of coverage for Call of Duty Challengers have left a bad taste in some mouths.
It could also ride on the streaming platform. Just hours before the launch event was scheduled to air, it was announced that Activision would be partnering with YouTube for all Call of Duty and Overwatch esports broadcasts. It’s safe to say that the viewership dropped because of the platform switch. In addition, not everyone could locate the broadcast using the platform’s search function. The majority of viewers went live using a direct link.
The title’s global reach could also be an issue. The CDL was an English-only broadcast, which to some makes sense because of the title’s popularity in the US. However, two other major audiences were neglected in Central and South America, where they predominantly speak Spanish and Portuguese. And compared to other FPS titles, Call of Duty remains fairly centralized. Other titles such as CS:GO dominate the rest of the world’s market.
Another barrier in Call of Duty esports centers around its annual release formula. New titles each year chip away at the stability of the esport. Forcing professional players to adapt to a new game offers little consistency, and a game’s success through the retention of hardcore fans can directly affect the reach of the esport. While Call of Duty: Modern Warfare was 2019’s best-selling game, it doesn’t promise the same for future releases. The popularity of the teams in the CDL helped influence viewership fluctuation. Chicago Huntsmen carried the majority of the weight, pulling in an average of nearly 76,000 viewers. OpTic Gaming LA came in second with 64,000.
It’ll be interesting to see how the viewership changes as CDL London begins. With this being a general tournament and not a broad launch event, the stability of viewership may dramatically shift. The popularity of the teams participating could directly affect this as well, especially since only eight out of the 12 will be at the next competition in London on Feb. 8 and 9.
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare is available now on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.