KPN eDivisie announces fifth season with new format, return to TV

Movies/TV

Official Netherlands FIFA esports league KPN eDivisie has announced its fifth inaugural season, which will kick off November 9th. 

Beginning next week, matches will take place every Tuesday at the H20 Esports Campus, north of Amsterdam. According to the release, the league will also be broadcast live on Twitch and Youtube, as well as returning to Dutch ESPN.

Image credit: KPN eDivisie

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The television sports network currently broadcasts all Eredivisie live matches, the UEFA Europa League as well as the Netherland’s second-tier professional football league, the Keuken Kampioen Divisie..

The esport was formerly aired on Dutch FOX Sports for its first two seasons, before moving to its own YouTube and Twitch channels. FOX Sports rebranded to ESPN in the Netherlands on January 1st 2021 following the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney in October 2020.

Dutch ESPN is operated by Eredivisie Media & Marketing CV, of which The Walt Disney Company (Benelux) BV holds 51 percent of shares.

The league’s format has shifted from supporting two seasons per year to a single season, Arnoud Schonis, Project Manager Erevisie CV, told Esports Insider.

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The finals will feature a €50,000 (~£42,500) prize pool, a Champion’s Scale and three Global Series Playoff seats to compete in the FIFA eWorld Cup, EA SPORTS FIFA 22’s world championship.

Schonis said that Red Bull returns as a sponsor, however neither fashion retailer H&M Netherlands nor insurance provider FBTO would be returning for the 2022 season. 

Dutch telecom KPN continues as the league’s Official Naming Partner. Announced in March, the partnership is set to last two-and-a-half years. The KPN eDivisie Finals will be held during a yet-to-be revealed ‘massive gaming festival’ during June 2022.

“Slowly esports is being accepted more and more in our country,” commented Schonis. “We pride ourselves on being the biggest esports property in the Netherlands and trying to bring esports to the mainstream every day. This year we expand our portfolio with two products, which makes the KPN eDivisie something to watch, something to participate in and something you can visit.

“As soon as we can share more information about this, we will. With these three ‘products’ we expand our footprint and aim to reach the entire Dutch EA SPORTS FIFA scene as well as building our international fan base. This will be a year to remember.”

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The eDivisie is a collaboration between the Eredivisie, the highest level of professional football in the Netherlands, and DreamHack Sports Games (DHSG), the sports games esports company under Modern Times Group, the parent company of ESL Gaming. DHSG and Eredivisie partnered in 2019  to ‘grow on the core competencies and strengths’ of each organisation.

“We are extremely excited to kick off the upcoming season of KPN eDivisie,” said Sanne Faxøe, Executive Director of eFootball at DreamHack Sports Games. “With the renewed format of the season stretched over an 8 months period where the nation’s and some of the world’s best FIFA players compete longer and more intensely than ever before, we believe we are launching our most ambitious season yet.

“Topping that with culminating the final stage of the league as a unique event for all our fans and followers, we pride ourselves in continuing to build on top of the successes that KPN eDivisie enjoyed in early 2020 in Amsterdam, when AFAS Live [concert hall] was packed with roaring FIFA fans celebrating the championship.”

Esports Insider says: eDivisie’s return to linear platforms is a show of faith in esports’ ability to draw younger viewers to Dutch ESPN channels. Considering that the viewing experience of football as an esports isn’t too foreign from the traditional sport, older generations might also tune in. The league seems to have found a ‘home arena’ in H20 Esports Campus which could support live audiences, pandemic guidelines permitting. The teased ‘massive gaming festival’ should be interesting, considering DreamHack Sports Games connection to the rest of the ESL Gaming umbrella.

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