Video game producer Electronic Arts (EA) and FIFA have announced that the EA Sports FIFA 19 Global Series esports competition generated more than 680 million minutes watched, a 60% annual increase and 61 million total views, a 25% year-on-year increase.
EA and FIFA said the significant viewership growth was anchored by many key factor. The FIFA 19 Global Series featured 17 official league partners versus eight last season, the launch of the first-ever eChampions League in collaboration with UEFA and the introduction of the FIFA eNations Cup.
Esports giant ESL has expanded its streaming agreement with Facebook to include all of its global competitions in 2019.
However, in a significant change to the terms of the original agreement, Facebook will no longer benefit from non-exclusive rights.
It means that events such as Intel Extreme Masters, ESL One, and ESL Pro League for CS:GO will also be available on Twitch and other platforms, and follows criticism from some esports fans unhappy with the video quality of the Facebook coverage.
Shell has agreed its first esports partnership with Riot Games’ new League of Legends professional European series, LEC.
The global oil and gas firm will come on board for the inaugural season of the new franchise-based championship, which will get underway this month.
The Shell brand will be integrated into broadcasts through a replay segment to be called “Baron Power Play with Shell V-Power.”
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), the UK Government’s non-departmental public body for innovation and research, has awarded the Weavr Consortium a two-year demonstrator grant that focuses on esports broadcasting, as part of the Industry Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF).
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has released a statement describing discussion about the inclusion of esports as a medal event on the Olympic programme as "premature."
It cites "uncertainties" in the development of the sector, noting specifically that "the [esports] industry is fragmented in nature, with tough competition between commercial operators."
The statement continues: "The [esports] industry is commercially driven, while on the other hand the sports movement is values-based.
Global sports merchandising specialist Fanatics has made its first foray into esports, signing a major multi-year partnership with the Overwatch League.
The agreement will come into effect ahead of the 2019 Overwatch League season, which gets underway on 14th February. It represents a first-of-its-kind partnership between a major retailer and an official esports league.
The deal gives Fanatics international rights to produce Overwatch League jerseys, fan gear, headwear and hard goods across all retail and wholesale channels.
Unibet has agreed a milestone betting partnership with leading esports organisation Astralis.
The two-year global deal will give the Kindred Group brand access to the image rights of the Astralis Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) team.
As Astralis’ ‘Official Betting Partner’, betting firm Unibet plans to work to further drive interest around esports among its key audiences.
The firm will benefit from exclusive content about Astralis, CS:GO and esports in general.
UEFA and EA Sports, publisher of the FIFA 19 game, have revealed plans to launch an eChampions League, described as “a pivotal tournament expansion to the EA Sports FIFA 19 Global Series.”
It follows the launch of the ePremier League, which will also be played on the FIFA title next year, and adds to the growing list of global events and competitions on the Road to the FIFA eWorld Cup 2019 next summer.
EA Sports has announced 13 partnerships with professional esports organisations that will see the teams’ official jerseys available as playable kits in EA’s FIFA 19 game.
Among the major international teams to sign on for 2019 are Team Vitality, Newbee, SK Gaming and Scarz. Rogue, the team of 2018 FIFA eWorld Cup Mosaad Aldossary, is another involved.
In addition, Team Liquid, Fnatic and Hashtag United, which were all involved in last year’s FIFA 18, will also return for next year.
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