IBM and Activision Blizzard’s Overwatch League has announced a first-of-a-kind multi-year deal to bring IBM's cloud computing and artificial intelligence technology to esports.
Activision Blizzard is exhibiting at Festival of Licensing, the month-long virtual celebration of the global licensing industry, which takes place online Oct. 6-29. It’s free to register and attend via www.festivaloflicensing.com.
With the agreement – IBM's first-ever esports deal – IBM becomes the official AI, cloud and analytics sponsor of the Overwatch League. The deal covers the 2020 Grand Finals and the entirety of the 2021 and 2022 Overwatch League seasons. A sponsorship component of the deal kicked off at this year's 2020 Overwatch League Grand Finals.
"We're thrilled to bring our world class Cloud platforms and Watson portfolio to one of the leading esports platforms in the world," says Noah Syken, vice president, sports & entertainment partnerships, IBM. "The solutions we're partnering to create can help the organizations, players and fans enjoy an even more immersive, engaging experience. We look forward to working with the Overwatch League, to bring innovative solutions at scale, to broad and relevant audiences.”
Through the course of the deal, IBM and the Overwatch League plan to leverage Big Blue’s suite of cloud and AI products. Starting in 2021, IBM and the Overwatch League will be working closely to develop technology solutions leveraging the tech giant’s expertise in natural language processing and machine learning to improve the league's rankings system and utilize IBM's Watson AI capabilities to create live and in-broadcast predictive analysis, with specific solutions currently under development. Additionally, the solutions will find new ways to showcase the wide array of statistics that the Overwatch League gets from live play.
"We're constantly striving to give fans the ability to more meaningfully engage with the Overwatch League and teaming up with IBM enables us to do just that," says Brandon Snow, chief revenue officer, Activision Blizzard Esports. "IBM's cutting-edge AI and machine learning, underpinned by cloud technologies, will help enable us to bring interactive and innovative engagement opportunities to our fans and teams. This is a fantastic benefit to our viewers, and we're very excited to be announcing it during the biggest event of our season."