Twitch and Blizzard Entertainment announce sweeping two-year partnership

A close-up of the stage at OGN's Overwatch APEX tournament. Blizzard Entertainment has partnered with Twitch to stream over 20 esports events for the next two years, including Overwatch APEX League. Provided by kenzi/FOMOS

Social video streaming platform Twitch and longtime game and content producer Blizzard Entertainment announced Tuesday a comprehensive two-year, multi-event partnership through 2018. The collaboration between the two companies will give Twitch the third-party live streaming rights to more than 20 Blizzard esports content and competitions as well as special game content for Twitch Prime subscribers.

"We've had great experiences and a long history of working with Twitch, and we're thrilled that this landmark agreement with them will help us bring some of the most exciting esports action in the world to Twitch fans and everyone who follows Blizzard esports," Frank Pearce, chief product officer and co-founder of Blizzard Entertainment, said in a statement.

Twitch Prime subscribers, as part of the partnership, can sync up their game accounts to receive special perks and content from Blizzard titles such as Overwatch, Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone. Overwatch will be the first game to receive special in-game bonuses such as emotes, character skins and loot boxes. More promotions for Hearthstone and Heroes of the Storm will be announced later this year.

"We founded Twitch as a gaming platform heavily based on our community's reaction to games like Blizzard's StarCraft II. Since then, our large, but tight-knit community, our constantly evolving suite of interactive features, and a native emote-driven chat language celebrated by viewers enable us to support and grow Blizzard esports in a manner that best serves our collective fans. This includes providing Blizzard fans with exclusive in-game content for those who subscribe to Twitch Prime, another defining and cherished component of our brand," Twitch COO Kevin Lin said in a statement.

"The impact we're hoping for is deepening the relationship between the fan and the players, as well as expanding commercial options for game companies in esports," added Lin when contacted by ESPN.com.

The partnership, which is already in effect, will cover more than 20 individual events and programs, including:
• Heroes of the Storm Global Championships
• StarCraft II World Championship Series
• Hearthstone Championship Tour
• Hearthstone Global Games
• World of Warcraft Arena Championship
• Overwatch Apex League
• Overwatch Premier Series

The announcement is one of several streaming deals to be solidified in recent months, and could provide value for Twitch, which Amazon paid nearly $1 billion to purchase in 2014. Financial terms of the deal between Blizzard Entertainment and Twitch were not disclosed.