The Walt Disney Co. has made a deal with the NFL and Electronic Arts that will bring the Madden NFL 18 Championship Series tournament and a new Madden NFL Ultimate League to ESPN2 and Disney XD.
The deal is ESPN’s first long-term, multi-event competitive eSports agreement.
Disney XD tested a gaming block last year.
The Madden NFL Ultimate League will feature one-on-one competition between 16 of the best Madden NFL 18 Players. It will start Feb. 2 and run until April 28, which is the date of the NFL Draft.
“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.
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. Disney XD will air 12 one hour episodes on Thursdays from February through April.
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.
“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,”
The Madden NFL 18 Club Championship tournament kicks off at Pro Bowl on Friday, January 26th. Fans can tune-in to ESPNEWS starting on Jan. 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, on Feb. 1st.
The 32 NFL franchises will each be represented by one Madden competitor. Throughout the NFL season, each player advanced through an 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.