Call of Duty and Twitch Could Help Drive Esports Betting Into the Future

  • The Call of Duty League recently switched from streaming on YouTube to Twitch
  • Opening weekend viewership was over 190,000, which was a record total
  • More eyes on the product could be what drives the popularity of Esports betting
  • The Esports betting industry is expected to surpass $13bn in value by 2023
Team celebrating an esports win
Twitch could be the reason Esports betting takes off after promising viewership totals during Call of Duty’s opening weekend kickoff. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

CoD back in its first home

The Call of Duty League (CDL)’s return to the streaming platform Twitch could be a significant factor in the growth of Esports betting.

The CDL started with 12 teams in 2019. Each spot required a $25m buy-in, and the teams competed in various online and in-person events, capped off by a multi-million-dollar World Championship. However, fleeting fan participation and viewership were among the many concerns for team owners disillusioned by the league.

Twitch helped opening weekend viewership peak at around 200,000 concurrent viewers

Despite early struggles, the league seems to be rounding the corner. The switch to Twitch helped opening weekend viewership peak at around 200,000 concurrent viewers, compared to just 79,000 for last year’s game.

Twitch to push Esports betting envelope

The early days of Call of Duty were always broadcast on Twitch. The CDL, though, struck an estimated $160m three-year deal with YouTube that covered Call of Duty Modern Warfare, Cold War, and Vanguard, and took the game away from its longtime home. 

That deal has since expired, which led to the league announcing its return to Twitch the day before the first set of matches. Many interested parties had clamored for a return to Twitch amid the league’s many struggles, including team personnel and fans alike.

The public outpour was rewarded immediately. According to Esports charts, Call of Duty League 2023: Stage 1 Major Qualifiers peaked at 192,943 viewers thanks to the Call of Duty League’s main stream, as well as other co-streamers such as retired pro Zoomaa.

viewership was the highest for a non-World Championship and fourth-highest total overall

The staggering viewership was the highest for a non-World Championship and fourth-highest total overall in the league’s history. This is a great sign, as the number of viewers usually increases for “majors,” which are LAN-based tournaments, instead of online qualifiers.

Many questions have been raised about Call of Duty’s place in Esports. Infrastructure failures within the league and disharmony between players and game developers had caused it to take a back seat to other games such as Warzone, Fortnite, and Apex Legends, but it now seems as if it could be a driving force in the rise of Esports betting.

Understanding the market 

The potential for Esports betting has been largely untapped for an industry expected to surpass $13bn by the end of the year. Several sportsbooks have begun offering daily fantasy contests, tournament results, and betting lines on matches, but there is still serious room for development.

One of the easiest ways to increase gambling participation is by increasing visibility, hence why the early returns on Twitch are so promising. Competition also significantly hinders a product’s potential more times than not, so it is important to understand what else is going on in Esports.

Halo, another popular first-person shooter, recently wrapped up its season with the World Championship, won by fan-favorite OpTic Gaming. Counter-Strike and League of Legends usually attract different audiences, but are both going as strong as ever as the two most popular Esports worldwide.

Another way to attract eyes is with viral moments: Twitch gambling streamer Xposed created his for all of the wrong reasons earlier this year by incorrectly betting $450,000 that OpTic Texas would defeat the Los Angeles Thieves.

younger generations that grew up playing video games are finding it easy to get behind

While Esports has been hard for the older crowd to buy into, younger generations that grew up playing video games are finding it easy to get behind. That’s according to Esports Entertainment Group CEO Grant Johnson, who is helping drive the market’s growth.

“The future bettor is coming up, and they’re gamers,” said Johnson in an interview with VegasSlotsOnline News.

Plenty will be revealed after viewership totals are posted from Call of Duty’s first LAN event of the Modern Warfare II season this week. As it stands, it seems as if the game could be a catalyst in the continued growth of Esports betting.