Blizzard Entertainment officially opens its new Blizzard Arena Los Angeles in Burbank Studios on October 7 with the Overwatch Contenders Season One Playoffs. While a significant part of the facility is devoted to the live event esports stage featuring top esports teams competing across a variety of Blizzard games, there is also a large area devoted to the production of video content for livestreamed shows and separate distribution.
Adam Rosen, senior business operations manager at Blizzard Esports, told AListDaily that the plan is for Blizzard to produce multiple concurrent esports shows around the clock. This post-produced content and studio shows will give Blizzard content for livestreams and for marketing its events across social media and video outlets.
“We’re thinking a lot about how to incorporate sponsorships and brands within the broadcasts in different ways,” Rosen said. “We have event-specific or league-specific sponsors with integration for graphics and advertisements, but also web and venue sponsors as well.”
The core pillar in creating this esports facility was to host “epic esports experiences,” so they’re orchestrating a balance in advertising within the facility so it’s complementary.
“We’re shying away from advertising that would be obtrusive to the experience,” Rosen explained.
But there will be plenty of opportunities for sponsors across the shows and content that Blizzard will be churning out around the clock.
“Brand integrations on our esports shows will be mostly consist of content integrations like you see on traditional sports shows,” Rosen said. “All of those will be ready to go at launch.”
Blizzard’s goal in creating content is to dive deeper into the stories behind the matches, according to Rosen.
“We want to increase our content value over time and deepen the narratives around all of our leagues,” Rosen explained. “As we create all of these other content pieces, it’s not just about the main stage competition, but to be able to look back at the lives of these players, explore historical stats and records, and bring deeper context to the fans.”
At the same time, as esports continues to gain additional mainstream exposure through coverage on traditional networks like TBS, NBC Sports and ESPN (which has aired Heroes of the Dorm competitions) and Disney XD (which airs Blizzard esports content), Blizzard wants to grow its fan base.
“We’re looking to expand our audience,” Rosen said. “We want to make compelling content for our fans, but we’re starting to expand the reach of our content. A lot of our content is on Twitch, but cutdowns of our content airs on Disney and other outlets. We had Heroes of the Dorm on Facebook Live this year.”
With multiple sound stages, control rooms, and practice facilities, Rosen said the Blizzard Arena Los Angeles was built to support a full slate of competitive events year-round. In addition, the Burbank arena will house a Blizzard retail store that rotates stock for event attendees based on the competitions taking place at the time.
The arena will seat 450 audience members, which Rosen said was the right number for the fan experience.
“We explored smaller and much larger audiences, but we think it feels good when you’re there,” Rosen said. “We’ve built the core capacity to support our most complex games, and then we can make changes on a game by game basis.”
Beginning October 13, the Hearthstone Championship Tour’s Summer Championship will bring top Hearthstone pros to the arena for a full weekend of competition, with $250,000 on the line. The global tournament will conclude the third act of the HCT and set the table for the Hearthstone World Championship to take place in early 2018.
The early battles of both the Heroes of the Storm Global Championship (HGC) Finals and World of Warcraft Arena Championship will be held at the arena in late October, setting the stage for the championships at BlizzCon in Anaheim, California on November 3-4.
Later this year, some of the top Overwatch players in the world will compete in the inaugural Overwatch League. While the plan is for the 10 city-based teams to establish home arenas for play in the near future, the first season will be held in the new arena.
“The Overwatch League will kick off in December with the regular season beginning in January,” Rosen said. “Tickets to all of our shows will be available to the public so fans can attend. We hope to see fans from the various city-based teams show up to support them.”