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Volume 21 No. 1
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Play On: NFL pleased with ‘Madden’ results so far

The ratings performance for last month’s “EA Madden NFL 18 Challenge” on The CW was good enough that the league is prepared to move forward with the concept in coming years.

Chris “Dubby” McFarland was among this month’s competitors.
Photo by: CARLTON BEENER / EA
The show averaged 653,000 viewers on Dec. 27, a figure that doesn’t seem all that big in overall TV terms, but one that the network says makes it the most-watched esports competition on any network for the year. Electronic Arts produced the one-hour special for a Wednesday night prime-time slot.

“In the world we’re in right now, platforms where you can be authentic to your sport but reach younger audiences and engage them and have the right content are paramount,” said the NFL’s chief strategy officer, Chris Halpin. “This is a great one for us.”

The NFL launched its competitive gaming “Madden” program in 2016, and is happy with its growth so far. Later this month, the NFL will host a “club championship,” where representatives from all 32 teams compete against each other at the Pro Bowl. A winner will be crowned the following week at the Super Bowl.

“With The CW, we saw the power of high-quality, highly produced competition on a platform where it can reach casual fans, avid fans and younger esports fans,” Halpin said. “Our theory was that ‘Madden’ fans, gamers and football fans will recognize what they’re watching and know the teams and know the players. If it’s a high-quality enough experience told in the right way, it will be immersive and engaging.”

John Ourand