NFL partners with EA for Madden foray into esports

The NFL is the latest to dive into esports with a partnership with EA Sports to create a nationwide “Madden NFL 18” tournament.  The Club Championship will begin with local tournaments in each of the 32 team league markets with a representative from each team getting a chance to represent the team in the championship rounds.

The individual teams will wet up the tournaments and they may be hosted at NFL stadiums and other team facilities.  The championship-round events will take place at the Pro Bowl in Orlando and Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.

The move brings the NFL into esports.  Although it is not the same as the NBA’s formation of an eleague with Take-Two Interactive, it is a push toward involving its video game with fans.  Notably, only 17 NBA teams are participating in the initiative which starts this fall.  But all 32 NFL teams will be participating in Madden.

There were no financial terms on the creation of the Madden NFL Club Championship.  Although there was no announcement on a broadcast or streaming deal which would air the tournament, you might expect one occurring in the near future.

ESPN had aired previous tournaments involving EA Sports’ Madden series.

The move reflects the growing market for esports and leagues attempting to jump on the bandwagon to engage fans and eventually monetize.

eSports to receive consideration for 2024 Olympics

The Washington Post reports that Paris is considering the inclusion of eSports in its 2024 Olympic program.  The inclusion of video gaming is a sign of legitimacy for a sport that is growing more and more each year.

According to a report by Fortune, fans are expected to reach 145 million people in 2017.  The Asian Games will debut eSports as an exhibition event in 2018 and add it officially in 2022.  eSports is set to appear at the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games next month.  Four games will be featured next year:  Dota 2, StarCraft II, Hearthstone and a sports game.

Last week, Dota 2, held its annual event at the KeyArena in Seattle.  The tournament offered $25 million in prize money and fans flocked to watch on the big screens inside the Arena as well as those set up around the concourses.

Undeniably, eSports is a big business with massive opportunities for game developers, creators and, of course, players.  It will be interesting to see how receptive eSports will be for an Olympic committee which has excluded baseball in the past.

FTC to block DFS company merger

A proposed merger between DraftKings, Inc. and FanDuel, Inc. will be challenged by the Federal Trade Commission.  The FTC claims that the merger would create a company that controls more than 90 percent of the market.

In the past rivals, the companies decided to join forces in November 2016 as each fought state regulators to get Daily Fantasy Sports legalized.  According to data from Eilers and Krejcik Gaming, the two companies have 95 percent of daily fantasy sports.

The FTC will file a lawsuit requesting a preliminary injunction to prevent the companies from closing the deal while it proceeds with an internal review to determine if the merger is legal under antitrust law.

17 NBA teams to participate in NBA 2K League

The NBA announced that 17 of the 30 teams will participate in the forthcoming NBA 2K League coming in 2018.

The league is a joint project with the NBA and Take-Two Interactive Software.  The NBA teams that are participating have agreed to a three year deal where each team will pay on average $250,000 per year.

The upcoming eLeague will be the first time one of the major sports leagues have directly collaborated to establish an eLeague of its own.

The investment in eSports shows the growing reach of the gaming community as well as the recognition that the sport will attract a younger demographic.

With the NBA involvement, it is likely that we’ll see more leagues collaborating with video game makers.

Twitter announces new live streaming sports deals

Twitter announced a number of new live streaming sports deals including the WNBA, PGA, MLB and collegiate games. The company lost out on a deal for Thursday Night NFL games to Amazon.com and is bolstering its efforts with more live streaming and content.  Amazon.com paid 10 times the amount that Twitter paid last year.

The company announced original content deals along with the live streaming at a Digital Content NewFronts Presentation.

The strategy seeks to bring more revenue to the company which is looking to monetize its platform.

The live streaming deals bring up the issue of the enforcement of the copyright as with those using Periscope to freely air sports content.  While this might be an ancillary issue at this time, with upgrades to technology this will come into question later down the road.

University of Utah announces eSports team sponsored by school

The University of Utah announced that its forming a “Varsity ESports” team through its Entertainment Arts & Engineering (EAE) video game development program.  It is starting with League of Legends as its first game with additional games in the offing.  It’s the first eSports program in the Power Five conferences.

The EAE program has been ranked the No. 1 video game design program in the nation.

There are multiple eSports teams sponsored by college gaming clubs across the U.S. but this is the first of its kind where a university department is sponsoring a team.

According to Bloomberg, gamers on the Utah’s League of Legends team will receive partial scholarships at first with a long-term plan of expanding to more games and monetizing the effort through marketing and sponsorship deals that will lead to full scholarships.

This is a sign that eSports is being considered as more than a club sport on college campuses.  Certainly the opportunity to monetize the endeavor is a reason for the push.  With conferences seeking content for its cable networks and sponsors looking to market to a young demo, eSports is gaining traction.

MLS Commissioner talks Facebook deal and opens up regarding regulated gambling

As Major League Soccer opened its season earlier this month and with it came news from MLS Commissioner Don Garber that he would not be opposed to legalized gambling.

Speaking at SXSW in Austin, Texas, Geekwire was able to catch up with him.  Garber spoke at Geekwire’s Sports Tech Summit last summer.

Via Geekwire:

“We have a project going on now to really dig in deeply and understand it. I’ll be the third commissioner (along with NBA’s Adam Silver and MLB’s Rob Manfred) in and say I’m very open to understanding how we can get more engaged in this market in a way that I think if done properly, can be regulated and managed and controlled. I’ll join the chorus of saying it’s time to bring it out of the dark ages. We’re doing what we can to figure out how to manage that effectively.”

In addition to this news that the MLS will be open to hearing about the possiblility of regulated gambling of its sports, he announced a Facebook streaming deal which will expand its reach across an untapped platform.  The MLS will be the first league with an extended package on Facebook.

Embracing new ideas and technology are two characteristics new to leagues.  The opportunity to engage with as many fans as possible is key as well as monetizing them.