Overwatch League waives outstanding OverActive Media franchise fees in major deal

Toronto Defiant
Credit: Overwatch League

Canadian esports and gaming holding company OverActive Media announced it has reached an agreement with the Overwatch League (OWL), Activision Blizzard’s franchised league for Overwatch.

OverActive said its OWL franchise Toronto Defiant had signed a sponsorship deal with the league, and that Overwatch League had agreed to eliminate outstanding fees it paid to enter the league. The company valued the deal at CAD$ 10.8m (~£6.5m).

ESI Lisbon 2024

OverActive Media owns Toronto Defiant, a franchised team in the Overwatch League, as well as Call of Duty League franchise Toronto Ultra and European esports organisation MAD Lions. The company has operations in Toronto, Madrid and Berlin and is publicly traded on the Canadian TSXV exchange.

The new partnership with the Overwatch League is based on three separate smaller agreements and deals. The first sees OverActive media get an early payment of league revenue share, a sponsorship agreement with the Toronto Ultra, and the elimination of entry fees. All of those agreements had a collective value of CAD$ 10.8m (6.5m), according to OverActive Media, which is still a far cry from the $20m+ (£16.1m+) entry fees that members of the Overwatch League paid for slots.

The deal comes after the Jacob Wolf Report reported in January that Overwatch League teams had hired a law firm to start collective bargaining proceedings against the league due to high operating costs and missed reveue promises. This process was led in part by OverActive Media, Jacob Wolf reported at the time.

Activision Blizzard, the developer of Overwatch, was owed considerable sum from the teams themselves. Jacob Wolf reported in May 2022 that teams owed roughly $6-7.5m each for a total of $120-150 million.

It is not clear wehther other teams — who also joined the same bargaining process with OverActive Media — have or will also receive a similar deal to ease financial stresses.

OverActive Media’s deal sees some of the high costs of operating an Overwatch League team reclaimed, however running costs for organisations is still estimated in the millions per year.

In a release, OverActive Media also said the deal may see changes to how the Overwatch League works commercially in the future. “The agreement also provides for the parties to explore further changes to the Overwatch League business plan moving forward,” a press release read.

It is unclear what changes this may include, or what effect will those changes will have to the future of the League and other teams.

It is still unclear what the partnership between Toronto Defiant and the Overwatch League will consist of, and neither party mentioned any details. It is worth noting that OverActive Media is a publicly traded company, and thus obliged to disclose major financial deals.

Ivan Šimić
Ivan comes from Croatia, loves weird simulator games, and is terrible at playing anything else. Spent 5 years writing about tech and esports in Croatia, and is now doing it here.