BT Sport announce deal to show FIFA 17 competitions
The evolution of eSports has continued with BT Sport announcing a deal with EA Sports which will see FIFA tournaments shown live on TV.
eSports as a market has grown in recent years, with stadiums like Anfield hosting the Pro Evolution Soccer League Mode final later this year.
Sky already have a channel dedicated to gaming, showing top 10 programmes and other game showcases including Minecraft.
As well as this, there has been some coverage of previous FIFA gaming events such as the FIFA Interactive World Cup - an annual tournament - in a bid to improve the diversity of their viewership. And now, BT want a piece of the action.
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.”
FIFA as a community has grown thanks to the use of YouTube and streaming services like Twitch, leading to many making a career playing the game - whether through competitions or advertisement revenue gained from content.
The winner of this year's FIFA Ultimate Team Championship Series will win nearly £130,000, while the runner-up will receive almost £65,000.
BT Sport will broadcast the remaining four EA FIFA Majors – Season Two North American Regional Final in Vancouver (April 8), Season Two Asia-Pacific Regional Final in Singapore (April 22), Season Two European Regional Final in Madrid (May 6) and the FIFA 17 Ultimate Team Championship Final in Berlin (May 20 and May 21).
The growth of video games as a viable spectator sport has been highlighted in recent years by professional football clubs such as Manchester City, West Ham and Schalke signing dedicated eSports players to represent the clubs at competitions.