heh...keep Googling, EA also bought the ESPN license.
so expect Madden 2006 to be full of ESPN crap
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Video game publisher Electronic Arts Inc. on Monday said it has signed a 15-year licensing deal with sports broadcaster ESPN, giving it the rights to use the network's brand and to develop new games based on ESPN properties.
The deal strikes a further blow against what was EA's chief competition in the sports market, the line of games from Sega Sammy Holdings and Take-Two Interactive Software Inc., which previously held the ESPN rights and used the ESPN name.
However, at least initially, any potential changes to the EA sports games will be more subtle.
"We don't anticipating changing anything significantly from what we are currently doing," Larry Probst, chairman and chief executive of EA, said in an interview. EA games will not necessarily be branded with the ESPN name, he said, though they will potentially include ESPN data, graphics and sportscasters .
ESPN executives said they had a good relationship with Sega and Take-Two but felt the time was right to move on to a larger partner.
"If you think about who the logical partner for ESPN (is) given our position in media and where we are and EA's position in video games ... it is a natural two companies to put together," said John Skipper, an executive vice president with ESPN.
Skipper and Probst said the two sides would look to a number of ESPN properties as potential video games, including the "X Games" extreme athletics competitions, poker and even bass fishing.
Last year, the Sega-Take-Two partnership challenged EA's dominance in pro football with a $20 game, "ESPN NFL 2K5," that received reviews just as strong as those for "Madden NFL 2005," the EA flagship that sold for $50.
Used to years of outselling Sega's football games by almost a 10-to-1 margin, EA was forced to respond when last year's Sega title gained a 40 percent market share.
The company slashed the price of "Madden" and moved quickly to lock up an exclusive licensing deal with the National Football League, keeping any other publisher from using NFL player or team names or likenesses in their games.
At least in the short term, Madden's name will stay on the pro football game, rather than being replaced by ESPN or another brand.
Madden is under contract to EA for the current season and the company said it is in negotiations with him on future versions of the game.
© Reuters 2005. All Rights Reserved.