With esports continuing to rise in popularity, EA has made it a priority. Today, it announced a deal with EPSN and Disney XD for exclusive broadcasts for competitive sports gaming.
Live from Super Bowl LII on February 1, ESPN2 will air the Madden NFL 18 Club Championship Final. Additionally, at some point in February, Disney XD will also host a new weekly broadcast of the first U.S. league for competitive sports gaming. Coverage goes beyond Madden’s Club Championship, Madden’s NFL Ultimate league, which features one-on-one competition between the 16 best Madden NFL 18 players, will also be a focus. The agreement is said to be “ESPN’s first-ever long-term, multi-event competitive gaming agreement.” It starts on February 2 and runs for two and a half months.
“The Madden NFL Ultimate League is purposely designed to make superstars of our best players, allowing viewers to develop player loyalties and follow competitor rivalries,” said Todd Sitrin, SVP and GM of the Competitive Gaming Division at EA in a press release. “Through this collaboration with ESPN and Disney XD, we’ll provide ongoing coverage for fans worldwide across a variety of ESPN and Disney platforms, but also digitally through our own Madden streaming and social channels.”
In April, an Ultimate League episodic series following its best players will also make its way to ESPN. This will run every Tuesday at 9pm ET until May 1.
EA is also providing fans more ways to follow these competitions with an upcoming add-on for Madden NFL 8, which will allow players to follow the action in-game. But that’s not all, EA is also releasing a limited-edition paid bundle of exclusive Madden Ultimate Team content and packs. This limited-time bundle caters to Madden competitive gaming fans, and will launch during Ultimate League.
For more on the upcoming Madden NFL Championship Series and the Madden NFL Ultimate League, you can visit the official site.
This isn’t surprising given esports’ growing audience. EA is being smart about connecting these competitions to the upcoming Super Bowl and putting players in the limelight with a weekly show. We’ll see if it has enough popularity to sustain this focus, but it can’t hurt to give it a try. I think it’s always cool to see the best players totally dominate the game, as high-level competition is rarely dull. It will be interesting to see if EA’s other sports franchises follow.