EA Sports Signs Exclusive Deal with NFL

This is kind of big news. EA Sports has signed an exclusive deal with the NFL and Players Inc. (NFLPA) that give EA the exclusive rights to the NFL teams, stadiums and players in their video games.

So, ESPN comes in and says… well, EA, you’re the leader… we’re going to undercut you by creating a good game and making it available for $30 less than you sell your game for. EA’s response: Fine, funny guys, you won’t be able to make an NFL game next year! How do you like them apples?

EA showed them who was boss and I kind of admire that. This is a bold and wise move. I wish I owned EA stock right now, but it has been shooting up like crazy. I’m a big fan of Madden and a big EA fan, so it doesn’t really bother me from that perspective.

However, the downside is that there will only be one choice for NFL/NFLPA games. This is probably not a good thing and that is where the NFL/NFLPA may be making a mistake here, in selling this exclusive license. And there was an interesting point made by Michael Pachter, a video game industry analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles:

The analyst Pachter also pointed out that once EA’s five-year agreement ends, no other company is likely to bid to produce NFL-themed games because the intensive process of digitizing players’ likenesses costs too much money. Also, the next two years will see the introduction of the next-generation game systems, further increasing the costs. “I do not blame EA for doing this,” Pachter said. “They’re in the business to make money. I blame the NFL. …Five years from now, who’s out there bidding? Nobody. EA’s got them [the NFL] over a barrel.”

Via Aaron Junod via Joystiq.

Patrick O'Keefe

Managing online communities since 2000, I publish a collective of websites known as the iFroggy Network. I wrote the book Managing Online Forums and, as a public speaker, have presented for organizations like CNN, institutions like Australian National University and conferences like SXSW. More about me.

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