[UPDATE] ESPN brand and programming to surface in EA sports titles on all platforms; Sega Sports and Visual Concepts thrown for a loss, again.
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 ESPN 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 today, 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."
Addressing ways EA intends to leverage not only ESPN programming but also technology, EA's vice president of marketing Frank Gibeau told GameSpot today, "When everything is online, and we’re going to be able to have live feeds, there's a lot of sports information content from ESPN that's really going to expand what EA Sports already does."
When asked to elaborate, Gibeau decline to go into specifics, but did say, "I think you can start to think about some of the core technology capabilities that are going to come online in the next few years with portability, wireless...you can think about the live feeds that can start to come in from ESPN inside of the games." For example, "being able to set rosters based on that night's rosters, brought to you by ESPN."