It might sound obvious, but the world of pro sports is competitive. Even beyond the winning or losing of competing teams, off the field, different franchises are always looking to get ahead of the pack. From signing the best players to getting the best coaches, it’s a never-ending race to the top. Now, with the crossover between traditional pro sports and esports becoming par for the course, that race has a whole new lane. Pulling ahead, at least for now, is the Philadelphia Eagles which has recently become the first NFL team to have an esports tournament provider of their own.
According to an article from the Philadelphia Eagles’ website, the NFL team and Esports Entertainment Group recently established a multilayer partnership. A first of its kind deal between an esports org and an NFL team, the arrangement has made the Eagles a shareholder of EEG. Among the perks that come with being a shareholder is the ability to make use of EEG’s Esports Gaming League platform. Furthermore, Esports Entertainment Group “will operate biannual Madden NFL esports tournaments for the Eagles.” No other NFL team has a designated esports tournament provider.
Obviously, having something no other team in the league has sets the Eagles apart from their peers. However, the move isn’t only about status. According to the Philadelphia Eagles’ Senior Vice President of Revenue and Strategy, Catherine Carlson, the partnership will allow “For us to expand our reach in a growing market and create new experiences for Eagles fans.” The “growing market” in question would have to be that of esports and gaming. With the help of EEG, the Eagles plan to engage with a wider audience and activate their fanbase in new ways. By offering Eagles fans the ability to participate with the franchise through tournaments, the team will be able to take advantage of—what Carlson calls—EEG’s “interactive platform [that] brings together gaming enthusiasts from all around the world.”
For their part, Esports Entertainment Group is benefiting from the partnership as well. As it turns out, the Eagles are only the most recent feather in EEG’s cap. As Grant Johnson, CEO of Esports Entertainment Group, puts it, “The Eagles join a growing list of high-profile organizations that have chosen Esports Entertainment Group as their esports tournament provider, affording us an incredible opportunity to expand our brand reach within multiple large, dedicated fan bases and setting the stage for significant growth ahead.” Among these “high-profile organizations” would be Arsenal, an iconic British soccer team. EEG’s management of Arsenal’s esports team comes by way of their recent acquisition of Esports Gaming League (EGL).
Interestingly, according to EEG’s website, Esports Entertainment Group primarily considers itself a “licensed next generation online gambling company focused on esports.” As far as the company’s work with the Eagles goes, they’ll primarily be involved as a tournament provider for the team’s esports endeavors as well as serving as a means to engage with the NFL team’s fanbase through “extensive ongoing digital marketing efforts spanning social, email, mobile, and online channels.” Still, it’s interesting to note that the company’s key achievements include being “the first online gambling company trading on an American stock exchange.” Even if EEG also “intends to offer users from around the world the ability to participate in multi-player mobile, console and PC video game tournaments online for cash prize,” the fact that such intentions are secondary to facilitating online gambling related to esports makes one wonder what that means for the NFL team that is now one of their shareholders.
Although this multilayer partnership may be a first-of-its-kind for NFL teams, there’s a good chance it’s merely a sign of things to come. If the Philadelphia Eagles have been able to secure an official provider for esports tournaments, it’s only a matter of time before their rivals, the Dallas Cowboys, do the same.