In 2016, spectators tuned in or streamed more than six billion hours of esports, and that number is expected to surpass nine billion hours by 2021. It’s no wonder that sponsors are jumping onboard to collaborate with this rapidly growing industry.
That latest is none other than the National Football League (NFL), or as it’s also known: the most profitable sports league in the world. Why would this behemoth feel the need to collaborate with the underdog?
Last year, 16.5 million viewers watched the typical NFL game. Those are numbers that would make most TV executives ecstatic. However, for the NFL it represents a drop of 1.4 million people from the previous year. In addition, growing concerns over long-term head injuries and their lingering effects has many believing that this is just the start of the NFL’s decline in popularity.
NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell has never been more straightforward when he said, “Competitive gaming and esports are one of the most exciting ways to engage a larger, younger, and digitally savvy NFL audience.”
The NFL wants to maintain its dominance, and it sees esports events as a viable way to do just that.
The recently announced Madden NFL Club Championship is a partnership between the NFL and Electronic Arts (EA), which publishes the recently released Madden NFL 18. The tournament is the first time an American sports league has fully committed itself to an esports competition, meaning all 32 NFL teams are involved.
The event is open to all Madden players on PS4 and Xbox One. The competition begins online through ladder matches that run until October 16. Next, the top players meet head-to-head in matches held in all 32 NFL stadiums and other popular landmarks. The final 32 players (representing every NFL team) will compete at the Madden NFL Club Championship Live Finals at the Pro Bowl Experience in Orlando, Florida. The final match is then held at the Super Bowl Experience in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The top players will get a cut of the $403,000 prize, with the winner getting the largest portion and two tickets to Super Bowl LII.
“Collaborating with EA to create the Madden NFL Club Championship presents a unique opportunity to capture the excitement of NFL action and the passion of our fans with competition that anyone can participate in,” said Goodell.
European football (aka soccer) teams have sponsored esports teams, but nothing on this level. The Madden NFL Club Championship proves that esports is big enough that the NFL has taken notice and decided to partner.
If you have ever considered sponsoring an esports team or event, the time to strike is now. Give The Trade Group a call at 800-343-2005, and discover how our specialists can help make you are valuable part of the burgeoning esports scene.