Call of Duty League Commissioner Says Interest Exists for Expansion Franchises

Call of Duty League Commissioner Johanna Faries says that the Activision Blizzard property has prospective team owners who are interested in buying expansion franchises. CDL newly started this season with 12 geo-located franchises, similar to sister property Overwatch League. The CDL franchises reportedly bought in for a fee around $25M, with nine teams based in the U.S., one in Canada and two in Europe.

But with OWL now up to 20 teams, industry observers are keeping an eye on whether Activision Blizzard Esports will try to expand CDL. But while Faries confirmed that there is a market for such expansion, she didn’t clarify whether new teams could start as soon as 2021 or if current conditions dictate waiting until 2022. “We keep focused on our 12, … (but) I will say that there continues to be great demand all over the world, and that’s a great sign of the health of the product,” Faries said. “What we do with that is to be determined, but it’s a great problem to have.”

Like most esports properties this year, CDL has had to pivot from plans for a debut season of in-person events to holding everything online. Faries said that she’s currently working through what the structure of the league will be like in 2021 — namely what the mix of in-person and online events will be. Faries: “What we’ve learned … has made us stronger and it gives us a lot more to contemplate about what works, what do you keep, change, modify.” Faries said of completing the 2020 season amid the pandemic: “Everybody was all in on, ‘How do we continue to preserve the season, deliver for our fans and keep going in the face of an unprecedented challenge?’”

In the first year of Activision’s three-year, $160M deal with YouTube, CDL is ending the season on a high from a viewership perspective. The Chicago Huntsmen-OpTic Gaming L.A. match this past weekend bested a previous CDL high-water mark for peak concurrent viewership by 36%.

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