Is the E-League stupid?

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The E-League is a professional FIFA competition in Australia which is run by the FFA and is currently in the middle of its second season.

Each A-League club is represented in the E-League by two competitors, one on Playstation and one on Xbox. E-League games are broadcast live on Fox Sports and are available for online streaming on Twitch.

Competitive gaming has exploded in popularity in South Korea, China and the USA – and competitive E-Sports have proven to be a very popular and lucrative industry in these countries.

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In Australia, it’s unlikely we’ll see this boom of popularity in the near future, but there is still a market of people interested in E-Sports in our country. Would the FFA have any interest if there was no potential for profit? Nope. Let’s talk ratings.

The fourth round of the E-League peaked at 4,447 viewers on Twitch. The figures for the ratings on Fox Sports were unavailable, but a peak of 4,500 live viewers on Twitch alone is pretty impressive for Twitch averages. Is the precious game of real, non-simulated football at risk? Not really.

For the sake of comparison, the fourth round of the A-League averaged about 50,500 live viewers per game on Fox Sports according to footyindustry.com. That doesn’t include streaming numbers from services like MyFootballLive and Kayo Sports either, so it’s obvious that the A-League crushes the E-League with regards to popularity.

Most people don’t have an issue with competitive FIFA alone. The annoyance comes from the way the E-League is promoted and its attempt to align itself as a competition that should be marketed in the same way as the A-League or the W-League.

The E-League also reeks of a giant FIFA 19 advertisement disguised as a professional gaming competition. This is another aspect that is likely to bug some people.

If you follow any A-League club on social media, you’ve probably seen coverage or promotion of the E-League on your timeline. You follow Adelaide United on Twitter because you want to hear about Adelaide United, not so you can hear about xUNCLETEKKERS’ latest performance in competitive FIFA.

The professional broadcasting of competitive FIFA is a unique and innovative experiment, but it’s being pushed too hard by the FFA. It needs to be easier to ignore by those with no interest.

At the moment the E-League feels a bit too spammy, which is a shame because there is potential for it to be its own cool project, and there is a legitimate market of younger people who would be interested.

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Excessively pushing the E-League on A-League social media just invites annoyed football purists to argue in the comments, which doesn’t help anyone. If the E-League was separated from the professional sport and simply aimed to fully capitalise on a growing gaming sub-culture, it would work better.

It’s hard to get too upset at the E-League. It just feels like a pretty goofy and sometimes annoying experiment that the FFA are doing to make some extra cash and capitalise on the popularity of gaming.

While you’re here, check out the top four goals from the fourth round of the E-League.

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Harry Keating
Intern at The Football Sack covering The Newcastle Jets A-League and W-League home matches!

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