The National Football League is calling a new digital play for its video-game fans.
The show, “EA Sports Madden NFL Live,” is slated to air weekly on NFL.com and Twitch (at twitch.tv/NFL) Fridays at 12 p.m. ET, starting Sept. 25. Fans also can catch re-airing of the show on NFL Network every Friday at 4 ET. Segments from “EA Sports Madden NFL Live” also will be available on demand on NFL.com, NFL Mobile and Twitch.
The NFL’s embrace of video-game culture comes amid a surge of activity in e-sports, in which fans watch live competitive gaming matchups either in-person or via broadcast. While the the football org isn’t sponsoring virtual competitions, the weekly “Madden NFL Live” show hints at a possible step in that direction.
This week, Turner Broadcasting and WME/IMG announced the formation of a new e-sports gaming league centered on Valve’s “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” first-person shooter. Under the pact, TBS is set to broadcast 20 live events over the course of 2016. Meanwhile, Activision Blizzard announced its own e-sports league for the forthcoming “Call of Duty: Black Ops III” futuristic battle title, with a pool of more than $3 million in cash prizes for contestants; Activision said broadcast partnerships will be announced at a later date.
“Madden NFL Live,” produced by NFL Media, series will provide news on the video game, including the latest in-game content for Madden Ultimate Team, plus user plays of the week and player ratings updates. The series will also mix in recaps of the previous week’s NFL action, as rendered through the virtual world of “Madden NFL 16,” as well as previews of the biggest games on the slate for the coming weekend.
“EA Sports Madden NFL Live” will be hosted by NFL Media host Adam Rank and former Pro Bowl running back Maurice Jones-Drew. They’ll be joined by Scott “Coltrane” Cole, one of Twitch’s top esports broadcasters and a top-ranked “Madden” competitive gamer, who will provide analysis and commentary.
“This series will cater to the cross-section of two extremely passionate communities — NFL fans and gamers,” said Jones-Drew. “I’ve been a huge fan of ‘Madden NFL’ for years and I know how popular the game is with NFL players, fans and gamers around the world.”
“Madden NFL 16” is developed in Orlando, Fla., by EA Tiburon and is available for Microsoft’s Xbox One and Xbox 360, and Sony’s PlayStation3 and PS4.
The NFL noted that all player participation in the digital series is being facilitated by NFL Players Inc., the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association.