Hindsight Will Be (in) 2020

Posted by joefunk :: Emerging Business Models | Industry Trends | Mobile Gaming | Sports & Video Games

Easportsnew_1The 15-Year Marriage between EA and ESPN Will Succeed, and Provides a Tantalizing Glimpse into the Future

When EA and ESPN announced a 15-year strategic alliance to jointly develop and promote sports videogame titles, it marked what history will eventually view as a historical milestone in the union between videogames and sports, and indeed the two dominant brands in the multi-billion dollar industries.

Since the announcement, an array of analysts has expressed skepticism about the year-old deal, basically saying a 15-year marriage is too long.

They’re wrong. Here’s why:

Easn_3The relationship has come a long way since ESPN swatted down EA’s original branding for their sports titles: EASN (Electronic Arts Sports Network), and since those heady days in 1993 (which, I’d like to point out, is 13 years ago), both companies have gone on to become ubiquitous powerhouses in the respective markets for good reason: they both do a great job of evolving their mediums, and packaging and presenting sports.

Meanwhile, technology has evolved exponentially, from HDTV to wireless gaming, and the surface of some incredibly deep integrated opportunities has just begun to be scratched.

While I look forward to the day when I’ll be able to wager on the Madden Bowl championship, and watch the game at a sports book in Vegas, Frank Gibeau, marketing VP for EA, provided some more immediate insight. He told GameSpot in an interview that, “I think that 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…and you can think about the live feeds that can start to come in from ESPN inside of the games. Being able to set rosters based on that night’s rosters, brought to you by ESPN [for example]. We’re really excited about being able to grow the business in places like poker, and the extreme sports category with the X-Games. Those are just a few [areas] that I can talk about right now, but we’re pretty fired up about it.”

This is just the tip of the iceberg, folks. By the time 2020 rolls around, the perspective of hindsight will show this deal will forever change the way we consume sports.


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