Electronic Arts and the NFL are working with ESPN and Disney XD to broadcast the EA Sports Madden NFL 18 Championship Series and a new EA Sports Madden NFL Ultimate League.
The league, which ESPN said is its first long-term competitive gaming agreement, will run from Feb. 2 until April 28 and will feature one-on-one competition from 16 players.
Disney XD and the ESPN App will feature weekly Madden NFL 18 competitive gaming content. Beginning in April, ESPN2 will also broadcast an Ultimate League Episodic series.
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.
“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, senior vice president and general manager of the Competitive Gaming Division at EA, in a statement. “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,” said John Lasker, vice president of ESPN Digital Media Programming, in a statement.
Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. For ESPN, the deal gets the network involved with an esports market that is pegged for big growth in the coming years thanks to advertising revenue.
Esports and streamed games content will total $3.5 billion in revenues by 2021, up from $1.8 billion in 2017, according to Juniper Research.