Today Twitch announced a partnership with Activision Publishing’s Call of Duty franchise that will significantly raise the profile of livestreaming among its players and fans.

This sort of content, while still nascent from the perspective of any established media variety, is exceptionally popular. As TNW has written in the past, competitive gaming, known colloquially as esports, is now an industry in and of itself, the world around. Professional teams, with big-ticket sponsors, send their players around the world to compete in events that include six-figure prize pools.

Twitch is a key factor in the rise of global esports, as the service has allowed gamers of a hundred stripes to broadcast their tournaments, leagues, and practice sessions all around the world, in real-time.

And the viewership can be massive. As the leading provider of streaming services for esports content, Twitch served 2 billion minutes of viewership in December of 2012. It has over 300,000 unique broadcasters on its platform, and is growing between 10 and 15 percent monthly.

Now, Call of Duty: Black Ops II is a large gaming title. It grossed $1 billion in a mere 15 days following its November release.

However, as an esports title, it has never been particularly easy to stream. That in mind, the number of players who stream the game, and who know that they can watch the best players and teams compete, has been constrained. Still, even with restrictions in place, Black Ops II racked up 2.5 million unique viewers in November, the first month of its life. There is potential for it to be much more, in other words.

Today Twitch has partnered with Activison – the title’s publisher – to provide one-click streaming capability for its players. This will advance the possible popularity of Call of Duty as a spectator sport. The ability to easily stream the game will work on Windows-based PCs, and the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 consoles.

What is interesting, from a broad esports perspective, is that this will expand the total pie: by greatly boosting an already popular title, Twitch could grow a brand new audience, in a field in which two players – League of Legends and Starcraft 2- are perhaps too dominant.

I suspect that Call of Duty fans have just been given a bigger gift than they realize.

Top Image Credit: Elliott Brown