TNL Take: For the past few weeks, Rocket League on ELEAGUE became one of the top rated esports programs for 2017, with the Feature Series taking the #1 spot right before the holidays.
As the year came to a close, there was one final event occurring: the EA Madden NFL 18 Challenge on The CW.
Any programming on The CW tends to perform well for two reasons: The CW is in a lot more TV households than TBS, ESPN2 or DisneyXD and the times slots are generally very favorable, such as midweek at 8PM.
How did the Madden Challenge perform? Very well.
We already covered this in our 2016 TV predictions and 2017 review but one thing is clear: the standout of "casual/non-traditional" games in the Top 25 such as the fighting genre (Street Fighter, Super Smash Bros), Rocket League and now Madden.
Why did Madden perform so well?
Believe there are five reasons for this: Many more TV households, a Wed 8PM time slot, low learning curve and potentially the biggest two after total households: brilliant programming decision and production value.
The event occurred two days after Christmas - with most people on break - and with the NFL season coming to its close. These two are more likely what caused a 50%+ increase over the previous #1 slot for The CW, Rocket League.
Further the production value was very high as it strayed from the live format which allowed more storytelling within the program; a first for competitive Madden.
For esports to be successful on TV - if ever - the games can't require a steep learning curve to throw off the casual viewer. Results from 2017 show that games that aren't on the Twitch Top 10 but that are easily understood can draw TV viewership.