To combat boredom and the absence of traditional sports during the COVID-19 lockdown, BT Sport and Gfinity are partnering to deliver new gaming entertainment programming. The partnership kicks off with the BT Sport FIFA Challenge, which will feature anchors and well-known sports figures competing in an EA Sports FIFA 20 four-team video game tournament.
Popular pundits Chelcee Grimes, Robbie Savage, Joe Cole, Ugo Monye will join popular soccer and rugby players from around the world to compete in the tournament. A draft for the event took place on Friday, May 8, on BT Sport. The tournament features weekly events that lead up to the Grand Final on Friday, June 5.
With most sports leagues suspended until further notice, networks across the world have relied on classic content, documentaries, esports, and even Hollywood films for programming. BT Sport has used special remote production methods to offer live programming and make use of their on-air personalities during the lockdown.
Chief Operating Officer of BT Sport Jamie Hindhaugh stated, “Lockdown has meant that we have been looking at new content and formats to give our viewers their sport fix while there is no live sport. The good news is that this has accelerated our esports plans with Gfinity and we’ll be kicking this off in May, using our market leading remote production capabilities, with a fun, chat based, FIFA gaming format with plenty of competition between our BT Sport teams that we hope our viewers will enjoy.”
BT Sport and Gfinity are expected to continue with their esports programming after the pandemic runs its course. The co-produced series brings together BT Sport’s broadcasting expertise and Gfinity’s ability to manage multi-feed gameplay.
Gfinity’s global head of content Amanda Lawson said, “Our focus this year has been on developing formats and shows that work for TV audiences in a way that ‘traditional esports’ has previously come up short. As with all good TV shows, this series will feature top talent, a unique and entertaining format and a fiercely contested competition. We very much look forward to working with BT Sport on further esports concepts and to bringing exciting new shows to their viewers.”