Viewership for the Overwatch League has taken a dip since its move from Twitch to YouTube gaming. Average viewership fell from 97,168 to 63,505. In the midst of this decline, Overwatch League VP Jon Spector had some things to say about their broadcast talent shift over the summer, and what he desires to see from the new lineup going forward.
The league lost several mainstay on-air talent over the summer. In an interview with ESPN’s Jacob Wolf, Spector was asked to respond to these changes, and this is what he had to say:
“…We have a complicated game right?… The more we can pull former professionals, people who live and breathe (Overwatch), I think the better we’re going to do in terms of… what our show looks like and the ability to explain something that’s really complicated to our fans.”
Spector also named some members of the new talent lineup like Robert “hexagrams” Kirkbride, praising their dedication and passion for Overwatch. Rapid back to back departures put the league under a lot of scrutiny. Timing became an issue as many were parting ways with the company in December, just as the Overwatch League Homestand was gearing up. Spector acknowledges the challenges the league faced as a result of this and praises the new team. He remarks that he “couldn’t be happier” with the new lineup.
His sentiments didn’t sit well with some of the departed talent. Many felt slighted by the apparent allusion to their lack of passion for Overwatch, and an overall lack of accountability they would have liked to see from Spector. Former mainstays like Christopher “MonteCristo” Mykles, Auguste “Semmler” Massonnat, and Erik “DoA” Lonnquist all put out tweets criticizing Spector’s comments.
What OWL is doing right now is attempting to cover-up their own poor management and decisions at the expense of people who put everything they had into the league.
It is incredibly hurtful and insulting for them to scapegoat us due to their deficiencies.
— MonteCristo (@MonteCristo) February 9, 2020
“People who live and breath this game” = “people who specialized in our game that we can lowball thanks to our monopolistic hold on the scene and/or their dependence on us for visas” https://t.co/I6ufwNcMD2
— Semmler (@OnFireSemmler) February 9, 2020
A lot of listeners heard this interview and saw overall managment issues pawned off on talent leaving the company in rapid succession. Massonnat in particular took aim at the leagues business practices, and their habit of leveraging their influence on the scene to pay talent less. Spector has now issued a statement to ESPN to apologize and offer clarification on his comments, saying:
“I want to apologize for my comments yesterday… I failed to provide some important context before answering a question about my excitement for our 2020 talent lineup… We are proud of our 2018 and 2019 broadcasts, and we feel great about our lineup this season. We’re incredibly thankful for all of the talented voices that worked to launch the first two seasons of the Overwatch League. We would not be where we are today without your work — thank you all for living and breathing Overwatch and supporting our league since the beginning.”
The issue now seems to be rectified, with Lonnquist and Mykles publically expressing gratitude for the apology. They also took the opportunity to wish their former coworkers well.
— Erik “DoA” Lonnquist (@ggDoA) February 10, 2020
Appreciate the clarification.
— MonteCristo (@MonteCristo) February 10, 2020
Week 2 of the Overwatch league begins February 15th.