Electronic Arts, ESPN hook up in exclusive 15-year deal
ESPN brand and programming to surface in EA sports titles on all platforms; deal is second blow to Sega Sports and Visual Concepts.
Electronic Arts broke the calm of a national holiday today by announcing a licensing deal of epic proportions. For the next fifteen years, EA will be the sole licensee of the ESPN brand in the area of sports games, which will include console, handheld, PC, and wireless games.
Games with leverage the ESPN brand will make their way to retail sometime during calendar year 2006, "upon the conclusion of ESPN’s existing video game licensing commitments."
The news is the second blow to current license-holder Sega (and its Visual Concepts development studio). It recently lost the right to publish sports games using the NFL license when EA scooped that license up. Now, it loses the right to the ESPN brand as well.
In a statement released just minutes ago, the world's largest game publisher said, "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."
The agreement is for fifteen years "with an option to terminate after ten years under certain conditions," the statement said. The agreement gives the publisher "exclusive first rights" to all ESPN content for simulation sports games.