Responding to the sports drought, ESPN will boost its coverage of esports, and particularly air a 12-hour marathon on Sunday, April 5, covering the NBA 2K, Madden NFL, Rocket League, and F1 Esports Series.
ESPN to Broadcast 12 Hours’ Worth of Esports
ESPN will broadcast esports competitions for 12 hours on Sunday, April 5, featuring a number of games, such as NBA 2K, Madden NFL 20, and Rocket League. The network has decided to fill the void left by professional sport which has been put on hold to address the coronavirus pandemic.
“ESPN Esports Day” will be a marathon of events featuring both live and recorded esports competitions, which aired on ESPN2 throughout 2019, the official press release stated. ESPN has been habitually offering esports coverage and highlights of big events.
Back in 2014, ESPN aired Valve’s Dota 2 The International, the esports tournament with arguably the largest prize pools. Similarly, The Worlds, the League of Legends’ equivalent of the Super Bowl, was broadcast on ESPN+ in 2018. More events are coming to the network as the interest for professional video gaming soars.
The marathon will begin by airing three hours of Madden NFL 20 footage, including Madden Classic, Challenge tournaments and Club Championship. The next program will feature F1 Esports Virtual Grand Prix, which is challenging real F1 drives to get in their SIM rigs and take a crack at the virtual competition.
F1 and NBA 2K20 Tournaments Part of the Broadcast
F1 has had to cancel the Azerbaijan GP and switch to virtual competitions. Next on the list, there is Rocket League which will air on ESPN2 with the network hosting the Season 8 World Championship Grand Finals, an important moment for the game.
Moving forward, the NBA 2K20 Players Tournament will also air, featuring some 16 NBA players who also don’t mind giving a go at the controller. Most notably, Kevin Durant is part of the contenders.
Finally, the marathon will wrap up with a nice recap of July’s EXP Apex Legends Pro-Am. As viewership for esports has been growing and gradually making its way on TV, CS: GO ESL Pro League global chief strategy officer, Craig Levine, has admitted in an interview with The Verge, that esports have benefited.
Sportsbook.io, a cryptocurrency website focused on professional sports and crypto betting, has confirmed that the platform is experiencing a “huge increase” in the volume of esports. The exact numbers remain a secret, as they constitute sensitive information.
According to Newzoo, the global audience for esports should reach over a 500 million people worldwide. A lockdown across the world has also boosted demand for streaming, with StreamElements reporting that Twitch hours watched went from 928 million hours in February to 1.1. billion hours in March.
Recently, DraftKings even released two fantasy games, one based on the upcoming eNASCAR iRacing that will take place on April 5at the virtual Bristol Motor Speedway and another one for Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.