EA.com Scores Licensing Deal with the NFL

Less than two weeks before The Game known as the Super Bowl, EA.com Thursday scored on a licensing agreement with the National Football League.

EA.com, the online entertainment destination and division of video game publisher Electronic Arts, will have rights to use NFL teams, uniforms, and logos in a variety of exclusive online games. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The EA.com and NFL.com sites will feature links to each other’s Web pages. Visitors to NFL.com will be able to jump to football-related games on EA.com’s NFL Games Channel and America Online properties.

EA.com’s NFL-branded content also will be showcased at Electronic Arts’ EA SPORTS division’s 7th Annual Madden Bowl, a pre-Super Bowl football video game tournament featuring NFL super stars and Hollywood celebrities. The media-only event will be held on Jan. 25 in Tampa, Fla.

The AOL and EA.com online game destinations went live in October 2000 under a strategic agreement struck between Electronic Arts and AOL Time Warner (then, simply America Online) in November 1999. Through the relationship, the two companies created an online gaming community that enables EA fans to download and play games, find online opponents, obtain game-related information and join chat rooms to discuss games.

While the NFL will benefit by bringing more rabid, game-playing fans into its already prodigious fold, EA.com also is a big winner because it has managed to partner with a pro sports league in good standing with fans. Unlike its Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association counterparts, the NFL has remained unsullied by strike-shortened seasons and salary-cap distractions in recent years.

“Partnering with the NFL clearly puts a stake in the ground for EA.com to become the dominant provider of online interactive sports entertainment,” said EA President and Chief Operating Officer John Riccitiello.

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