While their deal with League of Legends may have been a pipe dream, ESPN is expanding their eSports coverage to something a little closer to the roots of the "Worldwide Leader in Sports." On June 14th from 6–7:30 PM ET, ESPN2 will televise live coverage of EA's Madden NFL 16 Championship series for the first time ever.
The live, in-person event will be broadcast from the Novo Theater in Los Angeles, where game Madden publisher Electronic Arts is currently hosting their weeklong EA Play event. Streaming coverage of the quarterfinals is already playing on EA's site, but the TV broadcast of Tuesday's championship game will mark the first time the sports channel has put the virtual Super Bowl on network TV. (For the cord cutters out there, it will also be streamed to desktop computer and set-top streaming boxes via the WatchESPN app.)
With eSports shaping up to bring in nearly half a billion dollars in revenue this year, and more and more traditional sports clubs adding eSports players to their rosters, it makes sense to see one of the biggest sports game franchises of all time make the leap to broadcast TV. On the other hand, the championship bonuses aren't quite as lucrative in eSports yet — players in the Madden NFL 16 Championship are competing for just a piece of a $50,000 total prize pool.