TNL Take: It's not even February and we've seen several major announcements related to esports media rights and sports leagues:
- Twitch gets Overwatch League
- Major League Soccer and EA Sports announce eMLS
- Facebook garners exclusive rights to ESL content
- Twitch signs 3rd party exclusive deal with Turner's ELEAGUE
Now ESPN/Disney, NFL and EA have signed a multi-year exclusive distribution deal for Madden esports. The deal starts with this past weekend's Madden 18 Club Championship which involved all 32 NFL Club Champions and the upcoming Madden 18 Ultimate League this Spring.
Programming will be shown on numerous channels within ESPN and Disney networks:
- ESPNEWS: Madden NFL 18 Club Championship
- ESPN 2/Deports: Madden NFL 17 Club Championship Finals
- ESPN2: Ultimate League Championship
- Disney XD/ESPN VOD: Episodic and shoulder content
The agreement shows that EA Sports and the NFL believe that there's a dearth of content during the NFL offseason and this is one way to engage the audience and potentially bring in younger viewers.
The most recent Madden esports TV program finished #1 for 2017 - however that was shown on The CW which is in more homes.
Here is the interesting question: For Madden 18, the content is also available digitally via several properties including Twitch, YouTube Gaming, Facebook, Twitter and Mixer.
Will Madden 19 see an exclusive digital partner?
Time will tell.