Broadcasting eSports tournaments on television is no longer out of the norm, and the biggest names in sports TV have jumped onto the bandwagon. TBS has been broadcasting ELeague since 2015, BTN is now broadcasting tournaments involving B1G schools, and ESPN has broadcasted some events in the past as well. They will soon add to their portfolio by working with EA to broadcast “FIFA” tournaments on its networks, including the main network.
The first broadcast for this venture will actually be this Sunday (Feb. 5) at 6 PM ET, right as most of the U.S. is turning over to FOX to watch the beginning of Super Bowl LI. However, the broadcast will be on tape, as it’s from the Ultimate Team Championship Series Paris regional finals.
ESPN will broadcast these FIFA events on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPN Deportes, as well as streaming on ESPN3 (you can see a full schedule here).
EA already broadcasts “Madden” tournaments on NFL Network, in addition to now showing FIFA tournaments on the ESPN family of networks.
eSports aren’t just filler programming anymore for ESPN, TBS, NFLN and BTN; they have become a critical part of each network’s future strategy. While the ratings might not back up the decisions right now, evidence suggests it will in the future.