2017 eSports TV Ratings: FIFA on ESPN2, ELEAGUE Street Fighter Tops 300K


Vitality Rockyy Wins the 2017 FIFA Ultimate Team Championship in Berlin (Photo: EA Sports)

Vitality Rockyy Wins the 2017 FIFA Ultimate Team Championship in Berlin (Photo: EA Sports)

TNL Take: After last week's EA Madden NFL's 2017 Championship on the NFL Network, this week saw EA's FIFA Ultimate Team 2017 Championship take place in Berlin on ESPN2 as well as ELEAGUE's Playoff Preview show for this Friday's Street Fighter V Invitational Playoffs.

Here's how they performed:

TNL Infographic 040: 2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

TNL Infographic 040: 2017 eSports TV Ratings (Infographic: The Next Level)

Vitality Rockyy (Photo: Team Vitality)

Vitality Rockyy (Photo: Team Vitality)

  • EA FIFA: After 32 players battled it out in Berlin over 2 days, Corentin “Vitality Rockyy” Chevrey won the 2017 FIFA Ultimate Team Championship taking home $160,000.  With a full season of competitive play, $1M+ dedicated to FIFA prize pools and a Saturday 11AM time slot on ESPN - still failed to draw a lot of viewers with only 40,000 total and 19,000 in the 18-49 demo.

For comparison, last years 2016 FIWC (FIFA Interactive World Cup) - the big FIFA finals if you will - drew 46,000 total viewers on Fox Sports 1, which has almost the same household penetration as ESPN2.

This year's 2017 FIWC will be provide a decent baseline to see EA's efforts in relation to TV viewership.


ELEAGUE's Street Fighter V Invitational Playoffs (Photo: Turner)

ELEAGUE's Street Fighter V Invitational Playoffs (Photo: Turner)

  • ELEAGUE Street Fighter: The fighting game continues to grow with this week's show hitting 330,000 total and 177,000 viewers in 18-49.  This makes it ELEAGUE's highest rated show for 2017 and the 4th highest rated show across their various programming since starting in 2016.  

The "preview/highlight" shows tend do perform well in addition to only being 1 hour and ending at 11 PM; which would help increase the viewer numbers as well.  

This weekend's playoffs will be another good test to see if can now beat the 350,000 viewer mark.


Including replays, 2017 has now seen 25 eSports programs on TV at the end of May - whereas 2016 saw 22 in total.

Did You Watch the Super Bowl Or eSports This Weekend?


New England Patriots vs. Atlanta Falcons In Super Bowl LI (Photo: EA Sports)

TNL Take: This weekend saw amazing sports competition. Intense rivalries.  Fans going crazy. Fierce action.

And there was also the first half of Super Bowl LI.

I'm kidding.

You were more than likely part of the ~110M around the country that watched The Biggest Event Of The Year™. In the ever shifting media landscape, there is no other vehicle that engages us Americans for 3 hours every year than the Super Bowl.

However this weekend also saw some big developments in another area.

In the perfect timing department, this past Thursday I wrote about my belief that 2017 will be a pivotal year for eSports broadcast rights and TV/Distribution monetization.

Then on Friday came this announcement: EA Sports is partnering with NFL Network and Univision to broadcast this weekend's Madden Bowl and another deal with ESPN to show this weekend's FIFA Regional Finals in Paris.

Madden Bowl 17 Championship Belt (Photo: EA Sports)

Let's start with Madden first.

That Madden Bowl being broadcast on the NFL Network wasn't anything new - I even mentioned that also last week - but the addition of Univision Deportes is great to see.  This is the 2nd eSports program for Univision after airing December's Madden Classic in LA.

The ratings will be out shortly and I'll provide an update but here's a viewership comparison:

  • NFL Network [Fri 1/27 9:00PM - 10:00PM]  129,000 and 58,000 in 18-49
  • Univision Deportes Madden Classic [12/5 9:00PM - 10:00PM] 23,000 and 18,000 in 18-49

Any eSports numbers equivalent to prior programming is probably considered a win.

Madden Bowl was also streamed across EA.com, Twitch, Facebook and YouTube Gaming. Checking throughout the broadcast, Twitch was drawing ~3X the viewers as YouTube Gaming or Facebook, which were both about the same:

Madden Bowl Streaming Viewership - Twitch, Facebook, YouTube Gaming (Photo: Manny Anekal Twitter)

Considering it's still very early days for competitive Madden and this was only the 2nd Major, the streaming audience wasn't bad. In fact, during the Friday Madden Bowl Finals, the individual channel had the highest peak viewership on Twitch - equal to eSports powerhouse DoTA2, more than Ubisoft's Rainbow 6 Invitational and much more than the Halo Championship Series.

The entire Madden Bowl was amazing with the Finals coming down to the wire and Chris "Dubby" McFarland taking home the belt and $75,000.

EA Sports FIFA Paris Regional Finals (Photo: EA Sports)

EA Sports FIFA Paris Regional Finals (Photo: EA Sports)

More interesting was EA Sports FIFA partnership with ESPN which will be the first time the network airs an eSports event on its flagship channel.

As it's already been noted, the ESPN broadcast is not only tape delayed but runs smack in the middle of the Super Bowl.  Here's what ESPN aired last year against Super Bowl 50 and how it compares against eSports on TV:

eSports On TV and ESPN 2016 Super Bowl Programming (Chart: The Next Level)

It's a smart counter-programming move with very little downside. I'm eager to see what the ratings will be.

Here's the full schedule for FIFA across ESPN and Univision:

  • Saturday, February 4th (Paris): Live at 12pm on ESPN Deportes & ESPN3
  • Sunday, February 5 (Paris): 6-7pm ESPN (Tape Delay)
  • Saturday, February 11 (Sydney): Live at 3am on ESPN Deportes & ESPN3, 7am on ESPN2 (Tape Delay)
  • Sunday, February 19 (Miami): Live at 7pm on ESPN2 & ESPN Deportes
  • Saturday, April 8 (Vancouver): Live at 8pm on ESPN2 & ESPN Deportes
  • Saturday, April 22 (Singapore): Live at 6am on ESPN2 & ESPN Deportes
  • Saturday, May 6 (Madrid): Live at 11am on ESPN2 & ESPN Deportes
  • Saturday, May 20 (Berlin – Grand Final): Live at 11am on ESPN2 & ESPN Deportes

Further, the FIFA Finals featured an Athlete sponsored by German Soccer team FC Schalke 04, one of the 30+ Pro Teams that have invested in eSports.

EA Sports FIFA Paris Regional Finals (Photo: EA Sports)

Looks like 2017 should easily eclipse 2016 in terms of eSports on TV.

Versus Sports EA Madden NFL Athlete Profiled On CBS New York


Versus Sports EA Madden NFL Athlete Frank "Stiff" Sardoni Jr. (Video: CBS2 New York)

Versus Sports Athlete, EA Madden NFL 2016 Champion Frank "Stiff" Sardoni Jr., was profiled on CBS 2 New York with Sports Anchor Steve Overmyer.

It's a good introduction into the EA Madden NFL eSports opportunity but also pay close attention to the conversation between Steve and the other Anchors. 

It's very telling and shows where eSports is in today's mainstream mindshare and highlights the huge future runway.

Video Not Embeddable Direct Link



Disclaimer: The Next Level is the Media division for Versus Sports

From CBS2 New York

Far From A Waste Of Time, Video Games Are Netting Some Players Millions

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Getting paid to play video games is no longer an impossible dream.

Thousands are turning their hobby into a full-time job, including the premier player of the most popular game who recently spent time with CBS2’s Steve Overmyer.

Frank ‘Stiff’ Sardoni Jr is a world champion gamer. The 25-year-old New Jersey man won the Madden football championship.

His sanctuary may be in the upstairs bedroom at his parents house, but his hobby is far from a waste of time.

“My parents weren’t thrilled fans of me playing video games in general, but I was like ‘look at what I’m making now’ and they’re like, ‘if you’re making money doing it, and it’s what you love doing, go ahead and do that,” he said.

He’s taken his talents to social media as well.

“Winning the championship was the main source of income. I have a YouTube channel and also a Twitch channel,” he said.

Serious gamers share tips on hundreds of games using Twitch and YouTube to make money.

The average professional streamer makes about $2,000 a month. The best are making $12-15-million a year.

“A lot of people like watching one of two things. Really good games or if it’s entertaining,” he said.

EA Sports, the publisher of Madden plans on awarding $1-million to the top Madden players. Frank has sponsors and even an agent. Professional teams are seeing the lucrative possibilities.

“NFL teams have to look at this and see a market for this. I do believe they come into the picture at some point,” he said.

In 2016, at a competitive gaming event, the winning team of 5 players split the grand prize of $10-million. Colleges are getting involved as well. There are 15 universities giving video game scholarships as schools are starting e-sports competitive gaming tournaments.