Forget real football, BT Sport to broadcast live FIFA video gaming

By Oliver Smith 24 February 2017

Video games are going mainstream.

For the first time competitive Fifa football matches are to be shown live on British TV.

For the unenlightened, Fifa 17 is the football video game from EA.

From April, BT Sport is promoting this eSport into the big league, showing it alongside Premier League and Champions League football matches.

“Competitive interactive football gaming is a rapidly growing industry and I’m delighted that BT Sport is now able to showcase it for the first time ever in the UK,” said Simon Green, head of BT Sport.

Read more: What the heck is… eSports?

BT’s decision is just the latest sign that eSports are about to break into the sporting mainstream.

The Olympics of eSports

Last year Rio hosted the world’s first ever eGames tournament, a precursor to what will become a global eSports Olympics-style event by 2020.

Just eight countries participated in the Rio eGames ‘showcase’, but the mini-tournament was designed to drum-up excitement and get more countries on board ahead of the first proper eGames in South Korea in 2018.

At the same time Norway has put eSports on their national schooling curriculum, clearly hoping to give the Norwegian national team a boost in 2018.

“There’s a profound opportunity for competitive gaming to achieve mainstream success and the key to accomplishing this is accessibility,” said EA senior vice president Todd Sitrin.

Watching eSports isn’t the only way technology is creeping into sports, 360° video and holograms on the pitch are going to become part of mainstream sports soon.

BT Sport will broadcast the remaining four majors from the Fifa Ultimate Team Championship Series, a tournament with £130,000 in prize money, starting on 8 April.

Will you be tuning in?