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Video Game Price
War Just Heating Up
Video game publisher Take-Two Interactive has sold “more than two million copies of its ESPN NFL 2K5 from its introduction in July through October, compared with more than 2.4 million” copies of EA Sports’ Madden NFL 2005, which came out in August, according to NPD Group research cited by Nick Wingfield of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. In the comparable period last year, EA Sports sold over 2.8 million copies of Madden NFL 2004 to 240,000 for the ESPN game. But EA Sports estimates it still has 75-80% of the football videogame market “in terms of money spent by consumers, which reflects the higher price of its game.” Take-Two President Paul Eibeler said, “At least you’re back on the playing field, where these titles were out of the game. Now we’re back in the game.”
PRICE BATTLE: Wingfield notes EA Sports last week “slashed prices on its marquee sports games,” lowering to $29.95 from $49.95 the price on Madden and “significantly discounting other titles.” The cuts “were a direct response to Take-Two’s decision earlier this year” to price ESPN video games at $19.95. Some analysts believe the price battle “could carry over into next year’s football, baseball and basketball games.” American Technology Research analyst P.J. McNealy: “There’s no way Madden, on the current generation of game platforms, can launch at $49 [in ‘05].” EA Sports said that it cut prices “to keep its dominant position in sports games, hoping the low price pulls in cost-conscious shoppers during the holiday season.” While EA Sports has not yet decided “whether to continue the low prices next year,” an EA Sports spokesperson said, “we’ll do whatever it takes to maintain our category leadership and grow the market” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/16).
Heat Merchandise Sales Up
Ten-Fold In Week One
SHAQ-CESS: In Ft. Lauderdale, Sarah Talalay cited a SportScanINFO report as saying that sales of Heat merchandise during the first week of the season were up “almost 10 times compared to the same week in 2003.” Sales figures rose from $23,500 during last year’s period to $256,287 this year (Ft. Lauderdale SUN-SENTINEL, 11/14).
DREAM WEAVER: In Memphis, Ronald Tillery reports Nike’s Jordan Brand will be presenting sponsor of “The Family of Sport” symposium at FedExForum as part of the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration from January 14-17 put on by the Grizzlies, National Civil Rights Museum and city of Memphis. The symposium will feature “nationally prominent Jordan Brand athletes and local Memphis sports stars who will share stories about how their families worked together in the spirit of Dr. King to help reach their athletic goals.” The Grizzlies’ MLK Jr. Day game against the Rockets will be broadcast on TNT (Memphis COMMERCIAL-APPEAL, 11/16). King was assassinated in Memphis in ‘68.
CLOSING COSTS: In Sacramento, R.E. Graswich noted one of the NBA Kings’ “strategic alliances” partners, Anchor Financial, “sent letters to Kings ticket holders offering no-fee home loans. A couple of fans drew connections between Kings ticket prices and the second mortgages fans might need to buy their tickets.” Fan Joe Babich: “This is the first time they have admitted their ticket pricing has really gotten out of control.” But Anchor Financial Manager Eric Grathwol said, “For us, it’s a value proposition for a target audience. We want to rise above the clutter.” Graswich noted Kings Strategic Alliances Dir Mike Long “lets only about five partners have access to the mailing list” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 11/15).
WIZARDRY: In Orlando, Brian Schmitz reports the Wizards “made an unusual request last week” during a game against the Magic at MCI Center. They “asked that Magic players sitting on the floor near the bench not block courtside advertising signs” (ORLANDO SENTINEL, 11/16).
Red Sox DVD Already
MLB’s official DVD commemorating the Red Sox’ World Series win hits stores November 23 and is “already guaranteed to break previous sales records for MLB Productions’ World Series DVD/video product,” according to Russell Adams of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Through the middle of last week, MLBP had received orders for 300,000 copies, which “exceeds the total sales of the previous best-selling DVD/video” from the Yankees’ World Series win in ’96 (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/15 issue).
RETIRING THE SIDE: In St. Pete, Jeff Harrington cited SportScanINFO data that indicates that since the Red Sox’ World Series victory, sales of the team’s merchandise hit $1.06M “in the south Atlantic region, which includes Florida,” compared to $240,300 in the year ago period following the Marlins’ World Series win. About $30M of Red Sox merchandise was sold nationally in the week following the World Series, up from $1.1M a year ago. But SportScanINFO Marketing Dir Neil Schwartz said, “There is nothing unprecedented about this. This is very typical of what we see when a team wins a major championship. ... The same thing happened with the Bucs [Super Bowl XXXVII win]” (ST. PETE TIMES, 11/15).
Jamelia To Lead Reebok’s
New European Campaign
Reebok has signed British pop star Jamelia to a US$462,000 deal to appear in its new European ad campaign. Jamelia, who joins rappers 50 Cent and Jay-Z as Reebok endorsers, will also serve as a fashion consultant for Reebok (UK.NEWS.YAHOO.com, 11/15).
YOU’RE IT: In this week’s SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, Terry Lefton reports the “I am what I am” tagline in Reebok’s new Pump 2.0 campaign, via McGarry Bowen, is “customizable.” The tag for Red Sox P Curt Schilling’s spot is “still under development, but it will read something like ‘I broke the curse.’” Reebok CMO Dennis Baldwin said, “Tag lines are overused, and people are tired of brands yelling at them. What’s going to link all this together is this idea of speaking in the first person and making our brand marketing be more about our consumers than just hyping the logo.” Finish Line Senior VP/Marketing Kevin Flynn: “There are two things every kid today embraces: technology and individuality. And I see Reebok embracing both of those” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/15 issue).
The Buccaneers’ specialty license plate was Florida’s best-seller out of the state’s nine pro sports teams for FY ’04 ended June 30, according to Alan Snel of the TAMPA TRIBUNE. The Bucs plate was selected by 44,443 people for $25 each, compared to the second-ranked Dolphins with 24,761. The Lightning finished seventh with 3,412 tags, and the D’Rays were last with 1,414. Combined sales for the nine teams was $2.62M for 104,735 tags. Each team’s charity receives 10% of the revenue (TAMPA TRIBUNE, 11/13).