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Volume 26 No. 207
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Madden Championship Esports Competition Wraps Up, With Execs From NFL, EA Pleased

The '17 Madden Championship on Sunday marked the conclusion of the first year of the NFL’s four-week Madden esports competition. NFL Network from 9:00-10:20pm ET drew 89,000 viewers. On April 15, NFL Net drew 73,000 viewers for the finale of the Madden Club Series Championship (Saturday night window featuring players repping actual NFL clubs). Meanwhile, Twitch also streamed the Madden event on Sunday night -- numbers for which will be available early next week (Austin Karp, Assistant Managing Editor). NFL Chief Strategy Officer & Senior VP/Consumer Products Chris Halpin said of the audience leading up to Sunday's finale, "Viewership has been great. ... It's bringing younger audiences into these windows [and] is real and very compelling." CBSSPORTS.com's Will Brinson wrote what "differentiates Madden" from much of the esports world is the "relative simplicity with which most users can grasp" football. EA Sports Senior VP/Competitive Gaming Division Todd Sitrin said, "Up to this point, the challenge has been, the games that have started this industry have been really complicated and they're very hardcore experiences. Deep strategy games. I think with Madden and EA Sports in general, we are making it much more accessible for people, because a lot of those barriers that have been created with other games don't exist" (CBSSPORTS.com, 5/13). ESPN.com's Joe Bartel wrote in the year or so since the EA Competitive Gaming Division launched, it is "fair to say the company's slow-growth formula to competitive gaming has been a success in the minds of the people in charge, particularly in the popular football title" (ESPN.com, 5/12).