Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA) and the National Football League (NFL) announced they are teaming up with ESPN and Disney XD for exclusive broadcasts of the upcoming EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18 Championship Series. This starts with the final rounds of the EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18 Club Championship and the brand-new EA SPORTS Madden NFL Ultimate League, marking ESPN’s first-ever long-term, multi-event competitive gaming agreement.
The Madden NFL Ultimate League is the first ever competitive gaming sports league of its kind featuring one-on-one competition between 16 of the best Madden NFL 18 players and will run from Friday, February 2nd for two and a half months of thrilling esports entertainment, culminating at the NFL Draft on April 28th. Six players qualified by finishing in the top two at one of the three EA Majors: the Madden NFL 18 Classic, Madden NFL 18 Challenge and Madden NFL 18 Club Championship, with the remaining 10 selected as top series points earners.
“The Madden NFL Ultimate League is purposely designed to make superstars of our best players, allowing viewers to develop player loyalties and follow competitor rivalries,” said Todd Sitrin, SVP and GM of the Competitive Gaming Division at EA. “Through this collaboration with ESPN and Disney XD, we’ll provide ongoing coverage for fans worldwide across a variety of ESPN and Disney platforms, but also digitally through our own Madden streaming and social channels.”
“We’re thrilled to continue and expand our relationship with EA and the NFL in not only showcasing to our audiences these world-class esports competitions for multiple years, but also using the myriad ESPN and Disney global platforms to tell the incredible stories of these competitors,” said John Lasker, VP of ESPN Digital Media Programming.
The Madden NFL 18 Club Championship tournament kicks off at Pro Bowl on Friday, January 26th. Fans can tune-in to ESPNEWS starting on Saturday, January 27th to catch the quarterfinal action. The next broadcast will allow fans to follow the Club Championship Final on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes live from the Super Bowl Experience in Minneapolis, MN, on Thursday, February 1st.
The 32 NFL franchises will each be represented by one Madden competitor. Throughout the NFL season, each player advanced through a gruelling online elimination process to reach the semifinal round, which culminated in champions being crowned in local NFL team events across the country and at EA’s studio in Orlando, Florida.
“We are excited to partner with EA SPORTS and ESPN to bring the Madden Club Championship and Madden Ultimate League to the millions of Madden NFL fans globally and to broadcast these competitions from our key fan events, like the Super Bowl and the Draft,” said Chris Halpin, Chief Strategy Officer of the NFL. “We are also thrilled to be the first major professional sports league to have every team represented in a premier esports event. We are confident our fans will love the competition and action.”
Between Super Bowl LII and the 2018 NFL Draft, Disney XD and the ESPN App will become the weekly home to Madden NFL 18 competitive gaming content, showcasing the latest action from the Madden NFL Ultimate League each week. The Madden NFL Ultimate League champion will be crowned at the Madden Bowl, live from the 2018 NFL Draft on ESPN2.
Beginning in April, ESPN2 will also broadcast an Ultimate League Episodic Series. The content will focus on character and storylines through an exclusive entertainment style, following the best players in the Ultimate League on Tuesdays at 9pm ET until May 1st. Episodes will also be available on demand on the ESPN App.
For those players that own Madden NFL 18, they can also follow the action in-game with an upcoming add-on experience soon to be released within the game. EA SPORTS will also be releasing a limited-edition paid bundle of exclusive Madden Ultimate Team content and packs tailored specifically to Madden Competitive Gaming fans during Madden NFL Ultimate League play. The bundle will be available for a limited time in the Ultimate Team Store on Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
The full TV programming details for both Madden NFL 18 Club Championship and the Madden NFL Ultimate League are as follows:
Madden NFL 18 Club Championship Divisional Finals, Live from the Pro Bowl
January 27: 3am ESPNEWS Orlando, FL (Pro Bowl)
Madden NFL 18 Club Championship Final, Live from Super Bowl LII
February 1: 2am ESPN2/Deportes Minneapolis, MN (Super Bowl LII)
12 one-hour episodes of the EA SPORTS Madden NFL 18 Ultimate League Regular Season
Thursdays Feb – April Exclusive to Disney XD Available on ESPN VOD
Half-hour episodes of an Ultimate League Series, Tuesdays at 2am, Weekly from April 3 – May 1
Exclusive to ESPN2/ESPN VOD, Disney XD and Deportes
Madden NFL 18 Ultimate League Championship Final, Live from the NFL Draft
April 28: Midnight ESPN2 Arlington, TX (NFL Draft)
Broadcasts will also be available in the UK and Ireland via BT Sport and ESPN International networks.
For more details on the entire Madden NFL Championship Series, as well as details on the new Madden NFL Ultimate League experience, and how to watch, please visit the Madden Championship Website.