What: For the first time ESPN will broadcast an eSports event in the Unites States. The EA Competitive Gaming Division (CGD) announced an agreement with ESPN to expand its worldwide reach. The EA Competitive Gaming Division (CGD) was created just over one year ago with the intention to build new experiences founded upon competition, community and entertainment.
Why it matters: According to SuperData’s latest report on the eSports market, the global eSports business is now worth $892 million and during 2017 it will exceed $1 billion. This has attracted big brand’s investment such as Audi, Coca Cola and Nissan.
For the first time in its history, ESPN will telecast an eSports event in the United States. The network has signed an agreement with the EA Competitive Gaming Division (CGD) to air the Paris Regional Final next Sunday, in more than 60 countries on various key platforms in English, Spanish, and Portuguese. The sports channel will also do some extra coverage of The FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series available on ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.
“We’re expanding our competitive gaming portfolio to include events that also resonate with traditional sports fans, and EA’s FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series fits perfectly into how we intend to continue to serve eSports fans moving forward,” said John Lasker, VP of programming and acquisitions, ESPN. “The opportunity to reach this passionate audience globally in multiple languages is exciting, and we are pleased to do so as part of our long-standing relationship with EA.”
Live broadcast of eSports events that resonate with sports fans are becoming big business.
Additionally, the FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series will be live streamed on YouTube and Twitch.
ESPN is not the first TV channel to broadcast eSports. Last May, ESL announced the launch of eSports!, the world’s first 24/7 esports TV channel. But it still is a novelty that a sports broadcaster such as ESPN has joined the eSports wave.
EA also announced that Madden NFL would continue to be broadcasted through NFL Network and Univision. The partnership will include the final three major tournaments this year: Madden Bowl, Madden Challenge and Madden Championship.
Last year consulting firm Deloitte predicted that during 2016 eSports were likely to have an audience of regular and occasional viewers of close to 150 million people.