The National Football League (NFL) has aired its first Madden esports tournament on Fox Sports, featuring current and former NFL stars.
This broadcast deal sees the NFL become the latest in a long string of sporting organisations to hold esports competitions as the world misses out on live sport due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
The two-hour Madden NFL Invitational was broadcast on Fox Sports’ primary channel, FS1, comes after Nascar’s iRacing series saw broadcast viewership on FS1 in excess of 900,000, seeing it become the most-watched US TV esports broadcast ever.
Speaking ahead of the Madden NFL Invitational series, Fox Sports vice president for rights and business relationships, Joe Franzetta, said the event is a great testament to community spirit in the challenging times.
“We are excited to bring together such a dynamic group of talented individuals to help us create some much-needed sports entertainment in these difficult times,” Franzetta said.
“Seeing so many people enthusiastically come together for a great cause in such a short time is a testament to the human spirit of cooperation that sports exemplify,” he said.
The field of competitors was highlighted by Fox Sports analysts and NFL stars including Michael Vick, Matt Leinart, Orlando Scandrick, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Juju Smith-Schuster, Derwin James, Antonio Cromartie and Ahman Green.
The competition came to an end with Los Angeles Chargers strong safety, Derwin James, besting Michael Vick in an 80-16 championship win in an effort to raise awareness for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Foundation’s COVID-19 relief efforts.
Despite the fact the NFL season is not set to resume until September and the NFL has not been forced to suspend or cancel their season like the majority of other sports around the world, the gap in the broadcast market caused by no live competitions allowed the NFL to step in and reap the benefits.