The streaming site displayed a series of ads to Australian viewers urging them to "fight back" against the Safe Schools program, which is intended to reduce bullying of LGBTIQ students and provide teachers with training on homophobic and transphobic abuse.
The ads appeared on Australian streams last night, with Twitter user and Point & Clickbait writer @Burgerdrome taking a series of screenshots showing them being displayed during the Overwatch League. The ads were run by a group called Parents HQ, a little-known protest organization based in Australia. According to the group's Facebook page, the group believes that Safe Schools is employing academics "who support paedophilia." The lone video on its YouTube channel is titled 'Queering Children.'
Each ad features the caption "This Ad supports Overwatch League," though it is unlikely that Blizzard was involved in selecting which advertisements ran during the event. We have contacted Blizzard ANZ regarding the ads, though Burgerdrome claims that they reached out to the publisher and it is "passing it up the chain."
Blizzard struck up a record-breaking $90 million deal with Twitch to exclusively bring the Overwatch League to the streaming site in the West. The deal, which will run for two seasons, will see every match broadcast on the site.
According to the Overwatch League's commission Nate Nanzer, more than 10 million people tuned into the event's first week.
“Since we announced Overwatch League at BlizzCon 2016, we’ve been eagerly awaiting the day when the global competitive Overwatch community could come together under one banner,” he said. “Opening week was that coming-out party—for the fans, both in-person at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles and tuned in by the millions all over the world, and for the players, whose love for the game came through crystal clear.”
We have reached out to Twitch for a statement and will update this post if we receive a response.
Update: Twitch has issued the following statement to us: "Twitch does not allow nor support political advertising which slipped through our political ad filter due to a categorization error at the ad network level. We have since removed it."
Featured Image Credit: Robert Paul for Blizzard Entertainment