Psyonix and NBC Sports today announced a new partnership that will soon see Rocket League appearing on television — a first for the game. The partnership will allow NBC Sports to broadcast coverage of an upcoming Rocket League 2v2 tournament that is beginning next month and marks NBC Sports’ first foray into the world of esports with more potential partnerships coming in the future.
Rob Simmelkjaer, senior vice president of NBC Sports Ventures, talked about the new partnership with Mashable and gave reasons as to why the title they settled on was Rocket League:
“We looked at lots of different games in lots of different genres. We ultimately landed on Rocket League for a number of reasons. Number one, it’s growing at a nice clip. We see its audiences are growing. It’s got great buzz out there; the [Rocket League Championship Series] did pretty well this summer. Number two, we thought that it had some sports DNA to it, which would be a good fit for us and for our audience — our sports-loving audience. It’s obviously got this sort of soccer mash-up with with motorsports, which are sports that we cover extensively on NBC Sports Network.”
Simmelkjaer makes a great point when talking about how the current audience of NBC Sports could lead to success when showcasing Rocket League. Over the past few years, notable sports media organizations such as ESPN have tried to get into the esports business, but have found little success. This is perhaps due to the polarity of their regular programming in contrast to broadcasting titles like Heroes of the Storm, which have little to do with “regular” sports. NBC Sports putting their money down on Rocket League however seems like a good fit considering the game’s soccer roots.
A $100,000 2v2 Rocket League tournament will begin in July through online competitive gaming platform FaceIt. As the tournament progresses into the regional finals, select NBC Sports regional networks in New England, the Bay Area, and other non-NBC regional networks will begin broadcasting Rocket League — a first for the game. The tournament will culminate in the grand finals this August and will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network in the U.S. and on Syfy in select other countries.
This partnership seems to have great potential for both networks like NBC Sports as well as fans who have longed to see competitive games make their way to broadcast television. While the advent of online streaming has made television a somewhat obsolete location to showcase esports, it’s still cool to see deals like this one being made.