BT Sport has made its first major foray into e-sports by acquiring the rights to broadcast EA Sports FIFA 17 gaming tournaments.
The pay-TV broadcaster will screen coverage of the FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series, marking the first time that a competitive EA Sports FIFA gaming event will be broadcast on UK television.
Pitting the best FIFA 17 competitors in the world, football fans will have a front row seat to the action, watching competitors on BT Sport strive to become the ultimate champion, competing on both Xbox One and PlayStation 4 consoles.
BT Sport will broadcast the remaining four EA FIFA ‘Majors’, the North American Regional Final in Vancouver on April 8, Asia-Pacific Regional Final in Singapore on April 22 and European Regional Final in Madrid on May 6.
The series will conclude with the FIFA 17 Ultimate Team Championship Final in Berlin on May 20 and May 21, where the winner stands to win nearly £130,000, while the runner-up will receive almost £65,000.
BT Sport struck its deal with EA Sports, developer of the popular FIFA gaming series for more than 20 years and the organisers of the Ultimate Team Championship Series.
Simon Green, head of BT Sport, said: “This is yet another example of live innovation from BT Sport.
“Competitive interactive football gaming is a rapidly growing industry and I’m delighted that BT Sport is now able to showcase it for the first time ever in the UK.”
BT Sport has previously featured some e-sports coverage on its channels, including the virtual Formula E racing series, but with the popularity of eSports rapidly growing worldwide, the broadcaster has moved in to stake its claim in the competitive football gaming market.
The rise in popularity in e-gaming saw rivals Sky and ITV join forces last year with Ginx TV to launch GINX eSports TV, the UK’s first 24-hour channel dedicated to competitive gaming, which includes coverage of tournaments featuring well-known video games including Call of Duty, League Of Legends and Rocket League.
Todd Sitrin, EA’ senior cice president and general manager of competitive gaming division, added: “There’s a profound opportunity for competitive gaming to achieve mainstream success and the key to accomplishing this is accessibility.
“We’re thrilled to be partnering with BT Sport to make our exciting competitions for EA SPORTS FIFA, the most popular video game in the UK, available across the nation as we move the industry forward.”