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EA Acquires Exclusive License to ESPN Content

After first securing the exclusive license to the NFL and its players, and then
January 17, 2005
After first securing the exclusive license to the NFL and its players, and then snapping up the Arena League Football license as well, Electronic Arts has continued its licensing acquisition spree. The giant publisher has announced a 15-year exclusive license involving content from U.S. sports broadcaster ESPN. In return for an undisclosed sum, EA will use ESPN trademarks, shows, and on-air broadcasters in its line of sports games. This likely massively expensive deal comes as another hit to Take-Two's sports line, co-published with original creators Sega, which previously carried the ESPN name. Take-Two experimented with lowering its ESPN sports games to a budget price point of $20 in 2004, which resulted in a higher share of the lucrative videogame sports market than it had previously held. However, the unintended consequence seems to have been to anger EA to the point of blocking out all possible competition from Take-Two. Ironically, the deal doesn't take effect until after Take-Two's 2006 line of ESPN games will be released, meaning that however well the company's product does, it only serves to strengthen the brand for its biggest competitor. As yet, none of the other major sports leagues such as Major League Baseball or the National Basketball Association have been willing to sell an exclusive license to their respective sports, and Take-Two has made no move to counter EA's licensing deals with its own, although it has recently commented on attempts to arrange longer-term licensing deals.

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