In 2021, Monkey Bubble was contracted by Blizzard Entertainment to facilitate the production of their Overwatch Contenders program for both the Europe and North America regions. The goal was to grow the program by providing a unique viewer experience. We succeeded in giving the Contenders program its own identity. As a result, viewership and viewer retention has more than doubled, with increased and more positive social media engagement compared to the 2020 program. Monkey Bubble was instrumental in generating this growth through our world-class production, our unique insight into viewer experience, and our active programming. Here’s a look at what we did.
Step one was to get the broadcast quality to match our standards. Our team consists of experts in their field. They facilitated several solutions that allowed us to run 13+ hour production days with minimal staff and without any issues. Disruptions in live production will lead to a drop in viewership, as well as a suboptimal competitive environment. That is why our workflows are built with contingencies and backup staff is always on call to avoid any downtime. After that system was in place, we built it out to be optimised for the Contenders Program. Constantly revisiting and revising it to ensure all deliverables were the best they could be.
World Class Production
We at Monkey Bubble pride ourselves on delivering a clean and crisp broadcast with no hiccups in any environment. We provided a global production team and worked with intercontinental on-air talent. For the final tournament of the 2021 Overwatch Contenders Program, we even ran a 4K production. We used multiple observers and streamed to multiple channels without any delays between the on-air talent and the production team.
Our custom assets ensured that we did not only show every pixel of gameplay but also wrapped the entire experience in a distinctive overlay. With the base graphics and styling guidelines from our client, Blizzard Entertainment, we created a sleek design that left as much gameplay uncovered as possible. Between game rounds and during downtime, the assets were all able to be individually hidden in order to provide a more cinematic experience to the viewers.
Throughout the year, viewers of Overwatch Contenders were treated to an interactive experience. We provided them with several tools that made the viewer engage more with the live streams.
Both of these tools were secondary to the integration of live statistics and player data. Previously, only the premier division of Overwatch Esports, the Overwatch League, has been able to provide any statistics during live streams. Without an official API, it has been challenging to realise such an addition to any production. Our team developed an in-game environment through which the desired data was provided to us live as the game was being played. This gave the commentators, as well as the viewers, a much clearer picture of what was happening, which players to root for, and why certain characters were relevant.
We gave fans the that was used to actively engage viewers was the match prediction polling. Before a match, viewers could type an activation phrase in the chat in order to indicate who they thought would win. The total predictions were then counted and shown to reinforce the storyline of games.
One of the biggest tools for this was our social media integration. Anyone who tweeted including #Contenders2021 during the broadcasts, had a chance to be featured on the stream. These tweets popped up during opportune moments and were interacted with by the casting talent. Every single tweet was an opportunity to activate the audience and further grow the audience and the program itself.
Viewership for Contenders rose throughout the year. This was not just because the matches were amazing, but also because of what we did to further activate and engage the fans during downtime on and off stream. As a part of our production strategy, we spend a lot of time making sure that viewers stay engaged. While the live engagement tools we developed are a big part of this, there are also moments where the on-air talent and the players need some time for a break. This downtime is what often will put off viewers. They will tune out and frequently not return for the next game segment. To keep engagement up, we create pieces of content that have a similar tone to the rest of the broadcast, but that are not directly related to the gameplay at hand. It provides relief for the viewers, while still engaging them with the broadcast. This way the audience still experiences a break, without having to tune out.
The Contenders Program provides viewership rewards. We decided to use the bulk of our content to create calls to action for the audience to inform them of the rewards and how they could participate. For maximum reach, we used the in-game characters and environment combined with the familiar voices of the on-air talent. The content uses a mocking approach to traditional advertising which connects very well with the target demographic.
For every new tournament, our editors produced a cinematic trailer using commentary and gameplay from the previous one. These trailers served as a great way to build hype for the tournaments. They also helped activate the energy of the broadcast both at the start, as well as after long breaks. A viewer would see and hear the trailer and know that it was time for the next part of an epic story.
Player development is a large part of the Overwatch Contenders program. It is no longer just important how good a player is at playing the game, their conduct and personal brand are of great value to the professional scene. To help players with this process, we conducted interviews and created player focussed content.
Get in touch
If you are looking to create a program that spans over a medium to long duration Monkey Bubble is the premier partner to foster its growth and provide a unique and tailored experience for your target audience. Do you want to know more about what we can do for you? Get in touch with us today! We look forward to creating an experience with your vision!