EA, Disney, NFL Sign Multi-Year Distribution Deal For Madden Esports

TNL Take: It's not even February and we've seen several major announcements related to esports media rights and sports leagues:

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.

5 Questions With Michiel Bakker, CEO of GINX Esports TV

TNL Take: In this edition of "5 Questions With", we speak with Michiel Bakker, CEO of GINX Esports TVMichiel was previously with MTV Networks Europe as well as Chairman of Nickelodeon and Paramount Networks.  He is now focusing on growing GINX Esports TV digital and social footprint alongside the TV channel in multiple international markets. Michiel will also be speaking at Esports BAR, the leading B2B event for esports.


Ginx.tv is currently the largest esports TV channel globally. As esports has grown digitally, where does Ginx see esports on TV?

We see the role of TV in the esports ecosystem as extending the reach of esports into mainstream sports audiences.  Production values and perhaps more importantly, entertainment value, are increasing all the time; which helps us stand alongside more traditional sports channels.  When more of the audience understand the fundamentals of the games being played, the more they can share in the passion.   That’s why Ginx is deliberately taking an inclusive stance towards non-core and core gamers alike.


How many countries is Ginx.tv currently available and what are your expansion goals for 2018?

Right now GINX Esports TV is available in more than 50 million households in over 50 territories worldwide.  For 2018, we want to grow that by 50% to 75 million households with hopefully a significant announcement shortly.


You currently have several shows in production including "This Week in Esports", "The Bridge", and "IRL" - talk about the importance of shoulder content in addition to esports events and tournaments?

We love telling stories and that’s what TV is good at.  If anything, I’d like to do a lot more storytelling with the channel and our plans are constantly evolving.  I see it as a key purpose for Ginx, one where we can add real value to esports overall, which is to tell the stories of the players, the teams and the behind-the-scenes at tournaments - as well as broadcasting the events themselves.  Passion, emotion. dedication, pain, sacrifice, sublime mastery and utter elation are all present in esports and all fertile ground for storytelling.


What are your plans to enter the US Market?

Obviously the US is a massive esports market and although we are already present through the Sony Playstation Vue service, as well as in some smaller cable systems in certain states, we have well-developed plans to enter the US market in the near term but it is just a little to early to share those at this moment.


You also offer the ability to watch digitally on Ginx.tv - what percentagee of your audience is watching digitally vs. TV?

The vast majority of our audience is watching us through TV, we are a TV station after all.    Having said that, we are working very hard to expand the  digital footprint around and alongside the TV channel.   Our aim is to build and scale a digital community alongside the TV channel.    In addition to making improvements to our existing portfolio of digital products, be that our own Ginx TV Player or our presence on platforms like Roku and Amazon, our plans centre around content syndication and extending our presence on mobile.

Sponsored article by Esports BAR Cannes, the leading B2B esports event.

Special rates are granted to all The Next Level readers: Use code ESBTNL and grab your Delegate Package at €200 off the normal price. Register at www.the-esports-bar.com

Yahoo eSports Shuts Down


Yahoo eSports Shuts Down (Photo: Oath)

Yahoo eSports Shuts Down (Photo: Oath)

TNL Take:  One of the sadder eSports stories to emerge from E3 last week was that Yahoo eSports would be shuttered.

Anyone losing their job is bad news and having spent over a decade in the gaming space, I've seen plenty of friends laid off after putting blood, sweat and tears to ship a title on time.

This is unfortunate but not a surprise however: it had been talked about that the site was struggling overall - ESPN eSports has ~10X Twitter followers - and a week prior, it was confirmed that Verizon was laying off as many as 2,100 people of AOL-Yahoo's staff after the merger closed.

This obviously also kills the 2-year deal that ESL signed with Yahoo eSports last August to produce tournaments together as well as brand deals like this one with Reese's Puffs.

ESL's 2 Year Deal with Yahoo eSports Is Done (Photo: The Next Level)

ESL's 2 Year Deal with Yahoo eSports Is Done (Photo: The Next Level)

A few days prior to the Yahoo news, another eSports site Gamurs, announced the closure of one of the leading eSports wiki sites. Gamurs themselves merged with Dot eSports just 3 months ago.

Gamurs CEO Riad Chikhani wrote an excellent Medium post that outlines the reality of digital media today especially for those in gaming and eSports. Here are a few key points:

  • One of their sites was averaging around 1.85M page views per month with 5 ads on the page, generating ~9M+ "ad impressions" per month. The CPM - Cost Per 1,000 Impressions aka How Sites Make Money - averaged just under $3 last year. So in an absolute perfect world scenario, the site would generate about $300,000+ a year which isn't bad. However, perfect worlds don't exist, especially not in media


  • Generally ad block is anywhere from 25%-50% depending on content. However, gaming/eSports has the highest ad block rate of any type of media content. Riad confirmed that ~80% of site users were using ad block which is absolutely in line with both gaming media sites and some streaming content


This isn't restricted to gaming media but digital media overall. Here's what's happened in just the past 3 months outside of Verizon:

There are a lot of reasons why this is happening but here's 1 very simple chart to illustrate a major point:

There's Google and Facebook and then Everyone Else (Photo: Poynter.org)

There's Google and Facebook and then Everyone Else (Photo: Poynter.org)

Analysis from Pivotal Research group estimated that 71% of all digital advertising went to the two industry behemoths, Google and Facebook, while the trillion other publishers, media companies, social networks, and programmatic middlemen fight for the ever dwindling portion of the pixelated pie.

Now throw in Oath (Verizon/Yahoo/AOL), Twitter, Snapchat and 5 companies have a lock on ~80% of the digital ad market.

5 companies. 80%.

There have been many, many, many articles on the "downfall of digital media and the power of the few", however this quote from Talking New Media lays it out well: 

I’ve been in publishing professionally since 1981, but anyone can write about media these days, and most of the sites that do are staffed with those whose very first job in media was to do so. Some end up doing a great job and are supported by editors and revenue producers. Others come and go so frequently that it is hard to chronicle their launch and death. But success is not merely a matter of doing one thing well: content or design or technology is not enough in isolation, nor is having one great idea.
The media business, like making a film, involves many different skills, great ideas, creativity, sufficient funding, license to experiment. Then a lot of luck.
Good luck to all of you.


Wish all the staff of both sites a safe landing.

The Next The Next Level


The Next Level (Graphic: Jordan Fragen)

The Next Level (Graphic: Jordan Fragen)

Last week was issue #201 of the The Next Level daily newsletter

What started as a late night random Medium post 13 months has turned into eSports business news with distribution across a variety of media.

Sorry for the awful pun but it's time to take The Next Level to the next level.

There won't be a Corporate Manifesto and will roll out slowly to avoid the usual copycats but I can say what it won't be:

  • The Next Level will not copy and paste press releases
  • The Next Level will not chase page views
  • The Next Level will not be littered with awful ads
  • The Next Level will not provide #HotTakes
  • The Next Level will not stray from showing the reality


As always, this would not be possible without you.  Thank you for the support and feedback. 

-Manny Anekal