How Electronic Arts Is Producing TV Shows to Broaden the Video Game Market

Electronic Arts Produces TV Shows to Broaden Video Game Market

Electronic Arts is world-renowned for huge video game franchises like “Madden NFL” and “Apex Legends,” but a division within the company is devoted to making something it’s not as well known for: TV shows.

EA’s competitive gaming entertainment unit not only oversees the esports extensions of its best-selling games, but a completely different kind of entertainment more akin to “Project Runway” than the “League of Legends” World Championship.

“Esports, as an industry, has really played out of the exact same playbook for over 20 years,” said Todd Sitrin, SVP and GM of competitive gaming entertainment at EA. “When we entered the business, we said we want to redefine what is esports and what it could actually be.”

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Take, for example, “The Sims Spark’d,” an unscripted competition series that EA built around “The Sims” franchise that aired on cable network TBS this past summer. Not only did it have nothing to do with racking up the highest video game score, but nearly all of the contestants in the game were female. With EA hoping to broaden the video game market beyond the male-heavy core gamer demographic, “Spark’d” represents a new approach that the company expects to build on in 2021 with its other properties.

“The competitive gaming entertainment group at EA is really focused on this new form of entertainment and building a business unto itself, not becoming just a marketing vehicle for the underlying video game,” said Sitrin.

Strictly Business” is Variety’s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of media and entertainment. A new episode debuts each Wednesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher and SoundCloud.