EA Sports Continues Its Assault on SEGA Sports, Steals ESPN License

by: Charlie -
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As if stealing the exclusive rights to the NFL wasn't enough EA had to steal the rights to the ESPN licensing from SEGA Sports as well. Under a new deal EA has access to all ESPN broadcast, online, print content and its stable of personalities for the next fifteen years. Although it'll be most prevalent in the football game (let's see those bastards top the presentation in ESPN NFL2K5) facets of the ESPN license will appear in the other franchises as well.

This brings up two questions:

1) Is Madden dead?

It would seem that way but it's highly doubtful. Although the con-men at EA say they want to give players the most authentic experience possible, it seems like this move was an all-out assault on SEGA Sports. By securing this license, it probably means that SEGA Sports can't use the ESPN goods in a 2006 iteration of its football franchise. Don't be surprised to see Madden 2006 featuring something lame like Suzy Kolber on the Sidelines and Schwami's Picks during halftime or something. .

2) Does this mean that SEGA Sports is dead?

It's tough to tell right now because both sides are very quiet about the deal. Is it an exclusive deal? It seems that way, it wouldn't make sense for two competing products to utilize the same licensing. Then again, SEGA is making Sonic the Hedgehog games for the Nintendo GameCube, so who knows. Either way, it'd be tough for SEGA to compete without the ESPN branding.

In my opinion, it seems like EA has asked for the exclusive rights to the ESPN name after seeing what SEGA Sports did with it. Not because it wants to mimic its success and quality, but because it wanted to remove all formidable threats from the marketplace. My biggest fear is that this signals the second phase of EA's plans to attain the exclusive rights to all the major sports. There's already talk that EA is trying to obtain the exclusive rights to the MLB, NHL and NBA, maybe all those rumors are true.

You know, I used to love EA but after this whole ordeal I don't think I can ever buy another EA game again. Sure, they own like half of the gaming world, but the way these guys operate makes me sick. If you feel the same way, make your voice be heard. You're not alone.
ESPN and EA Sign Agreement for Sports Games
Monday January 17, 3:00 pm ET
Relationship to Integrate Content and Introduce New Sports Games

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Jan. 17, 2005--Electronic Arts (Nasdaq:ERTS - News) and ESPN today announced a long-term agreement for the development and integrated marketing of EA SPORTS games containing ESPN content. The relationship will include established EA SPORTS franchises -- which will be enhanced by ESPN telecast, print and online content -- as well as new sports games to be published by EA based on ESPN media properties. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

The agreement gives EA access to ESPN programming, personalities and integrated marketing opportunities on ESPN television programming and other ESPN properties. The ESPN integration will appear in EA SPORTS console, handheld, PC and wireless games beginning in 2006 upon the conclusion of ESPN's existing video game licensing commitments.

"EA and ESPN have a shared belief that adding ESPN content will improve an already outstanding line of games," said George Bodenheimer, President, ESPN Inc. and ABC Sports.

"This relationship was created to benefit consumers who are passionate about sports games," said Larry Probst, Electronic Arts Chairman and CEO. "EA SPORTS recreates the real life experience fans enjoy while watching or playing their favorite sport; while ESPN programming captures the look, sound and excitement of the sports they follow. Together, we believe we can significantly grow the interactive sports category."

The agreement is for fifteen years with an option to terminate after ten years under certain conditions and gives EA exclusive first rights to all ESPN content for simulation sports games.

About Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts Inc. (EA), headquartered in Redwood City, California, is the world's leading interactive entertainment software company. Founded in 1982, EA posted revenues of $2.96 billion for fiscal 2004. The company develops, publishes, and distributes interactive software worldwide for video game systems, personal computers and the Internet. In 2003, EA had 27 titles that sold more than one million copies. Electronic Arts markets its products under three brand names: EA SPORTS(TM), EA GAMES(TM) and EA SPORTS BIG(TM). EA's homepage and online game site is www.ea.com. More information about EA's products and full text of press releases can be found on the Internet at http://info.ea.com.

About ESPN

ESPN, Inc. is the world's leading multinational, multimedia sports entertainment company featuring a portfolio of over 50 multimedia sports assets. The company is comprised of seven domestic television networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPNU (launching March 2005), ESPN Today), ESPN HD, ESPN2 HD (launched January 2005), ESPN Regional Television, ESPN International (networks and syndication), ESPN Radio, ESPN.com, ESPN The Magazine, SportsTicker, ESPN Enterprises, ESPN Zones (sports-themed restaurants), and other growing new businesses including ESPN 360 (broadband), ESPN Mobile, ESPN Video-on-Demand, ESPN Interactive and ESPN PPV.

Electronic Arts, EA, EA SPORTS, EA GAMES and EA SPORTS BIG are trademarks or registered trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries.
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