EA, NFL Ink Deal to Televise Madden NFL Esports Series on ESPN, Disney XD
The deal to carry marks Disney/ESPN's largest esports commitment to date
Electronic Arts and the NFL are teaming up with ESPN and Disney XD for exclusive broadcasts of the upcoming EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18 Championship Series. This starts with the final rounds of the EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18 Club Championship and the new EA SPORTS Madden NFL Ultimate League, marking ESPN’s first-ever long-term, multi-event competitive gaming agreement.
The Madden NFL Ultimate League is the first ever competitive gaming sports league of its kind featuring one-on-one competition between 16 of the best Madden NFL 18 players and will run from Friday, Feb. 2 through the NFL Draft on April 28. Six players qualified by finishing in the top two at one of the three EA Majors: the Madden NFL 18 Classic, Madden NFL 18 Challenge and Madden NFL 18 Club Championship, with the remaining 10 selected as top series points earners.
“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,” says Todd Sitrin, SVP and GM of the Competitive Gaming Division at EA. “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.”
“We’re thrilled to continue and expand our relationship with EA and the NFL in not only showcasing to our audiences these world-class esports competitions for multiple years, but also using the myriad ESPN and Disney global platforms to tell the incredible stories of these competitors,” says John Lasker, VP of ESPN Digital Media Programming.
The Madden NFL 18 Club Championship tournament kicks off at the Pro Bowl on Friday, January 26. Fans can tune-in to ESPNEWS starting on Saturday, January 27 to catch the quarterfinal action. The next broadcast will allow fans to follow the Club Championship Final on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes live from the Super Bowl Experience in Minneapolis, MN, on Thursday, February 1.
The 32 NFL franchises will each be represented by one Madden competitor. Throughout the NFL season, each player advanced through a grueling online elimination process to reach the semifinal round, which culminated in champions being crowned in local NFL team events across the country and at EA’s studio in Orlando, Florida.
“We are excited to partner with EA SPORTS and ESPN to bring the Madden Club Championship and Madden Ultimate League to the millions of Madden NFL fans globally and to broadcast these competitions from our key fan events, like the Super Bowl and the Draft,” says Chris Halpin, Chief Strategy Officer of the NFL. “We are also thrilled to be the first major professional sports league to have every team represented in a premier esports event. We are confident our fans will love the competition and action.”
Between Super Bowl LII and the 2018 NFL Draft, Disney XD and the ESPN App will become the weekly home to Madden NFL 18 competitive gaming content, showcasing the latest action from the Madden NFLUltimate League each week. The Madden NFL Ultimate League champion will be crowned at the Madden Bowl, live from the 2018 NFL Draft on ESPN2.
Beginning in April, ESPN2 will also broadcast an Ultimate League Episodic Series. The content will focus on character and storylines through an exclusive entertainment style, following the best players in the Ultimate League on Tuesdays at 9pm ET until May 1st. Episodes will also be available on demand on the ESPN App.
For those players that own Madden NFL 18, they can also follow the action in-game with an upcoming add-on experience soon to be released within the game. EA SPORTS will also be releasing a limited-edition paid bundle of exclusive Madden Ultimate Team content and packs tailored specifically to Madden Competitive Gaming fans during Madden NFL Ultimate League play. The bundle will be available for a limited time in the Ultimate Team Store on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
The full TV programming details for both Madden NFL 18 Club Championship and the Madden NFLUltimate League are as follows:
- Madden NFL 18 Club Championship Divisional Finals, Live from the Pro Bowl
- January 27: 10pm ET ESPNEWS
- Orlando, FL (Pro Bowl)
- Madden NFL 18 Club Championship Final, Live from Super Bowl LII
- February 1: 9pm ET ESPN2/Deportes
- Minneapolis, MN (Super Bowl LII)
- 12 one-hour episodes of the EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18 Ultimate League Regular Season
- Feb – April
- Exclusive to Disney XD
- Available on ESPN VOD
- Half-hour episodes of an Ultimate League Series
- Tuesdays at 9pm ET
- Weekly from April 3 – May 1
- Exclusive to ESPN2/ESPN VOD, Disney XD and Deportes
- Madden NFL 18 Ultimate League Championship Final, Live from the NFL Draft
- April 28: 7pm ET ESPN2
- Arlington, TX (NFL Draft)
Broadcasts will also be available in the UK and Ireland via BT Sport, Canada via TSN and Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean and Latin America, including Brazil via ESPN International networks.