The CW Network, Electronic Arts, and the National Football League (NFL) announced the premiere of a one-hour primetime esports special, the EA Sports Madden NFL 20 Classic, will be airing today at 8 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on the CW.
The Madden NFL 20 Classic (presented by Starbucks Nitro Cold Brew) was the largest tournament in Madden NFL Championship Series history as roughly 400 competitors competed for a title belt and a share of a $190,000 prize purse at the largest dedicated esports facility in North America, the Esports Stadium Arlington in Arlington, Texas.
Some folks may not care about that, but airing shows like this one, which will underscore the human side of the competition, is what could make esports as interesting to watch as football. And that will eventually be important for EA’s future.
The docuseries chronicles the sights and sounds of three days of passionate competition through the eyes of the competitors. Hosted by Akbar Gbajabiamila, retired NFL player and present NFL Network analyst, the show takes viewers behind the scenes with complete access into the minds of competitors at the highest level.
Although the show will highlight the X’s and O’s of Madden NFL, its primary focus is to connect audiences to a close-knit community of competitors chasing a uniform dream of becoming champion. The series showcases the human drive for success as well as the agony of defeat through relationships.
Viewers will be introduced to long-time Madden NFL seasoned players and new stars learning about their unique backgrounds, the life obstacles they’ve overcome and how a competitive videogame can bring people together.
“Our continued partnership with EA and the NFL has been a phenomenal success for The CW,” said Rick Haskins, executive vice president at The CW, in a statement. “We’re thrilled to once again have the opportunity to showcase the passion, competitive spirit and sportsmanship of the Madden community.”
“The emotional story of these competitors is extremely compelling regardless of an audience’s existing knowledge of Madden NFL esports,” said Todd Sitrin, senior vice president and general manager of the EA Competitive Gaming Division, in a statement. “We are continuing our partnership with The CW and the NFL on a high-production Madden NFL entertainment special because this show format resonates with the mainstream — it connects to both the esports enthusiast and the casual viewer seeking a good story.”
This is the third edition of The CW docuseries on the power of the Madden NFL community. The first show aired in December 2017 and was the highest-rated esports broadcast that year. The show was filmed August 30 to September 1 in Arlington, Texas, by Vindex.