Activision Blizzard (ATVI) has confirmed the sale of 2 Overwatch League (OWL) expansion franchises, Atlanta and Guangzhou (China), and it’s been reported the company is in talks with McCourt Global (an LA-based holding company) to add a team in Paris; though the league has not confirmed that story. With the addition of Atlanta and Guangzhou, ATVI has now sold 14 OWL city-based franchises and it’s likely that number will continue to rise before the start of Season 2; ATVI eSports Leagues CEO Pete Vlastelica has stated it’s his intention to add 6 new cities (12 participated in Season 1) prior to the start of the ’19 season. The Georgia-based conglomerate Cox Enterprises (think: Cox Communications, autotrader.com), in collaboration with Province, Inc. (a consulting firm), will run the Atlanta franchise, while the financial and entertainment conglomerate Nenking Group bought the 2nd China-based OWL team.
Howie Long-Short: Each of the founding 12 city-based franchises paid $20 million for their spots. After a strong inaugural season (they sold-out the Finals at Barclays Center), the cost of participation has already risen by at least +50%; the next 6 franchises (including Atlanta and Guangzhou) to join the league will pay between $30 million-$60 million, depending on the volume of bidders, the market size and density of talent within the city.
Any concerns that the enthusiasm surrounding Fortnite would hurt Activision Blizzard were alleviated as ATVI reported record revenue and EPS for H1 ’18 on August 2nd. The company also set a record for mobile revenue in Q2 ’18 and grew net income +65% YoY (to $402 million) during the most recent quarter. The good times are expected to roll through H2 ’18, with several notable games scheduled for release including; Call of Duty: Black Ops 4, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth and Destiny 2: Forsaken. Despite an earnings report that beat analyst expectations, ATVI shares are down 5% since; as the company’s full year forecast fell short of analyst projections. Activision Blizzard remains up 11% YTD, closing on Tuesday at $70.23.
Fan Marino: Did you know, Patriots owner Bob Kraft, Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, Rams owners Stan & Josh Kroenke, Sacramento Kings co-owners Andy Miller/Mark Mastrov, Texas Rangers co-owner Neil Liebman and the CEO of Comcast Spectacor (owns Flyers) Dave Scott are among the pro sports owners that have purchased (or made an investment into) OWL franchises? You can now add Nenking Group to the list, the company owns the Guangzhou Long Lions of the Chinese Basketball Association.
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