At the start of stage two of the Overwatch League's (OWL) inaugural season, the league and Twitch implemented a rewards system to incentivize viewership.
There are two parts to this rewards system:
1. Tokens For Viewing: Viewers earn tokens by watching the broadcasts. They can then redeem these tokens while playing Overwatch themselves for in-game items.
2. Twitch Emotes and In-Game Items For Cheering: Viewers earn Twitch emotes and in-game items by "cheering." "Bits" are Twitch's virtual currency and cheering is when viewers give Bits to the stream they are watching as a show of support.
One interesting part of this system is that you can see how many Bits viewers have cheered on the Overwatch League channel. You can check how many Bits have been cheered by everyone, how many Bits you have cheered, how many Bits have been cheered for each team, and which viewers have cheered the most Bits (some individuals have spent over $2,000 already). Since we can see how many Bits have been cheered, we can estimate how much revenue Twitch and the Overwatch League have earned from the cheers alone (just for fun).
What Is A Bit Worth To Twitch?
Before looking at how many Bits were cheered, let's look at how much a Bit is worth to both Twitch and to the streamer (OWL). Here is what is costs viewers to purchase Bits:
Based off these prices, purchasing one Bit normally costs a viewer $0.014 (a little more than one penny). However, by purchasing greater quantities of Bits, the cost per Bit can drop to $0.012. There is also a first time buyer offer of $0.01 (exactly one penny) per Bit.
What Is A Bit Worth To The Overwatch League?
According to Twitch, this is how much streamers earn per Bit:
"The standard share for Partners and Affiliates is 1 cent per Bit used to Cheer for them. In some special cases, like esports tournaments or charity events, there may be different revenue sharing arrangements."
Therefore, if a viewer purchases 100 Bits for $1.40 from Twitch and cheers those Bits in the Overwatch League's channel, the league earns $1.00. However, it is quite likely that that there is a special arrangement in place due to the scale of OWL broadcasts.
How Many Bits Were Cheered?
For the first week of stage two, I collected the total number of Bits that were cheered following each day of action:
|Day||Bits Cheered Per Day|
|* figures rounded and collected at various times after the last match of the day|
As you might expect, the first day attracted the most cheers because viewers were eager to earn the rewards. Twitch and the OWL currently offer quite a few rewards, are planning to offer more as the season progresses, and they do have incentives to encourage cheering throughout the inaugural season such as in-game skins that unlock if cheering goals are met. For example, the first cheer goal is 40,000,000 Bits:
So What Were Those Bits Worth?
|$0.010 per Bit||$0.012 per Bit||$0.013 per Bit||$0.014 per Bit|
|* figures rounded|
Based off of the figures we gathered, Twitch earned up to approximately $290,000 at the end of the first week of stage two (just from these Bits). From this, the Overwatch League likely earned around $210,000 depending upon their partnership agreement.
It will be interesting to track how many Bits are cheered over the remainder of the first season and to see what Twitch and the OWL do to further incentivize viewership. So far, viewership has been strong with over 400,000 concurrent viewers on the opening day and the league has successfully attracted significant sponsors including Intel, HP, Toyota, T-Mobile, and Sour Patch Kids to capitalize on this.
For the remainder of the season, I'll tentatively plan to fill in the following table with the Bits totals at the end of each week:
|Week of Season||Bits Cheered Per Week||Value of Bits at $0.014|
|Stage 2: Week 1||20,800,000||$291,200|
|Stage 2: Week 2||7,800,000||$109,200|
|Stage 2: Week 3||5,600,000||$78,400|
|Stage 2: Week 4||4,000,000||$56,000|
|Stage 2: Week 5||4,500,000||$63,000|
|Stage 3: Week 1||3,200,000||$44,800|
|Stage 3: Week 2||1,600,000||$22,400|
|Stage 3: Week 3||4,700,000||$65,800|
|Stage 3: Week 4||1,800,000||$25,200|
|Stage 3: Week 5||1,900,000||$26,600|
|Stage 4: Week 1||2,600,000||$36,400|
|* figures rounded|
If you have any questions about these numbers, please send me a tweet. Otherwise, thank you for reading and I hope you have a chance to watch a game!