Editorial Team

The Big 12 Conference and Learfield IMG College, its comprehensive multimedia rights partner, today announced the launch of an esports tournament for all 10 member schools.

The online-only event marks a first-of-its-kind for the Conference and provides advertisers with elevated sponsorship opportunities within a university-branded esports platform by Mainline. From July 13-16, 2020, each Big 12 member school will play host to a single-elimination qualifying tournament featuring Madden NFL 20. One winner representing each member institution will advance to the Big 12 Conference Championship tournament July 18-19. Registration for the qualifying tournaments is open to all Big 12 students beginning June 22 and closes July 10.

Big 12 Now on ESPN+ will carry the finals of each school tournament, as well as games from the Big 12 Championship rounds. Bill Pollock, the host of Big 12 This Week, the Conference’s syndicated weekly radio show, will call the action.  He will be joined by institutional radio play-by-play announcers for select broadcasts. Learfield IMG College has teamed with Mainline for the remote production for all games of the tournament.

“This is a great opportunity to engage in an emerging space on a Conference-wide level,” said Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby. “This opportunity is a unique way to provide original content from within a competitive environment during these challenging times. We appreciate the collaborative efforts that have made this first-of-its-kind Big 12 Championship tournament possible.”    

Learfield IMG College, which has managed the Big 12’s conference-level multimedia rights since April 2019, holds individual athletics multimedia rights agreements with all 10 member institutions. This esports venture with the Big 12 Conference and Mainline marks another step forward in Learfield IMG College’s vision to amplify its media and technology focus and to innovate for its college and brand partners.

“We’ve remained steadfast in our commitment to deliver for our partners, even in a changed environment of social distancing and college sports on pause,” said Learfield IMG College Chief Content, Development & Strategy Officer Rob Schneider. “Esports represents a huge opportunity to extend our traditional sports marketing offerings to brand partners, both now and when sports resume, and we’re proud to lean in with the Big 12 to create a unique offering for its member schools, students and fans. Working with an established esports technology leader like Mainline affords both the schools and brands another powerful way to connect with students who love to game and compete.”

Mainline’s white-labeled tournament software will allow Learfield IMG College’s local staff at each of the Big 12 member schools the option to sell sponsors on esports visibility. The tournaments will feature respective school branding, and the university-branded esports tournament site will provide brand marketers an opportunity to connect with student participants through an integrated platform experience and shared affinity. Learfield IMG College will utilize its exclusive university marks and IP rights for the university-branded tournaments.

“It’s more important now than ever to provide college students the ability to stay connected and engaged, and our technology can help aggregate the college esports community to help make that happen. This will multiply the opportunity, power and fun of esports to college students attending all Big 12 universities and keeps students competing while still practicing social distancing,” said Mainline CEO Chris Buckner.

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