After last year’s Twitch Rivals Streamer Bowl logged more than one million hours watched on the platform, the Amazon-owned streaming company has scheduled its 2021 sequel for Feb. 4—three days before Super Bowl Sunday. The second annual Fortnite faceoff between NFL players and top Twitch streamers will be preceded by weeks of preliminary competitions and playoffs, kicking off in mid-December, and will integrate fans into the main event.
Both the NFL and its players association promoted the inaugural Streamer Bowl charity tournament, which debuted just days before the 10th most-watched Super Bowl in history (and 11th most-watched television show of all time). Jumping back on board for the event this year made sense for the league and the union, which have the opportunity to engage a digital audience that has only hit higher heights amid the pandemic—Twitch broke a number of its own records at the start of quarantine and has continued to see unprecedented interest as the virus continues to keep people largely at home.
The NFL was the first third-party company to partner with Fortnite creator Epic Games, integrating league apparel into the game in 2018. The pair renewed their partnership in November with the announcements of additional NFL-themed purchase and play options and the returns of the Streamer Bowl and its precursor event, the NFLPA Open.
Twitch continues to make inroads into the sports space, increasingly serving as a legitimate sports distribution partner. Through Amazon’s Thursday Night Football rights, the platform already works with the NFL, but the ability to continue to grow that connected audience was apparent to the platform after the Streamer Bowl’s success last year.
Chicago Bears running back Tarik Cohen and Twitch streamer Cody “Clix” Conrod will both return to defend the title they won together last winter, when players like Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray and Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster also took the virtual battlefield. Additional NFL participants for 2021 will be announced during the four-week playoffs throughout December and January. The top eight performers in the NFLPA Open, currently underway, will earn entry into February’s Streamer Bowl.
Streamer Bowl II will allow fans to join the NFL players and top Twitch personalities in the main event. Thirty teams of three participants each—as opposed to last year’s 16 teams of athlete-streamer pairings—will be drafted in late January, each trio consisting of one NFL player, one top Twitch streamer and one qualifier from the Fortnite Streamer Bowl Cup, which is open to all players within the Fortnite community.
By creating an environment for pro athletes, top streamers and everyday people to compete together and against one another, the event generates a unique and rather large audience that combines the fanbases of both gaming and NFL celebrities with general devotees of the video game itself. In terms of fan engagement opportunities, it’s a no brainer for all involved, and now even more enticing for everyday gamers and fans.
This year’s Streamer Bowl will also up the financial ante, as its hosts have doubled the event’s charity prize pool to $1 million. The money will be distributed amongst the top trios and donated to organizations of each player’s choice, like last year, but the stakes are even higher for 2021.