SBD/August 15, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 Follow NCAA Lead, Ending Trademark License To EA Sports

EA Sports will no longer have use of the SEC's trademarks
In a move that "should come as no shock, officials from the SEC, Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences announced Wednesday that those leagues would no longer license their trademarks with EA Sports," according to Matt Murschel of the ORLANDO SENTINEL. The news "comes less than a month" after the NCAA said it would no longer license its trademarks to EA Sports. However, "individual teams from each of these leagues would still be available to use unless of course, those schools decide to follow suit and remove themselves for consideration from the game as well." There has been "no word yet if the remaining power conferences -- ACC and Big 12 -- will follow a similar path" (ORLANDOSENTINEL.com, 8/14). In Birmingham, Jon Solomon cited an AL.com survey of every SEC school and FBS conference yesterday "on whether they are renewing with EA" (AL.com, 8/14). ESPN.com's Edward Aschoff wrote, "If the SEC isn't siding with EA Sports, it's hard to believe that it would work with another video game maker" (ESPN.com, 8/14).

SKY IS NOT FALLING: The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Rachel Bachman wrote even if the plaintiffs in the Ed O'Bannon-NCAA case "got everything they are seeking, most Division I athletic departments would avoid catastrophe." But a "sense of alarm may be warranted on some campuses, particularly smaller athletic departments in large conferences" such as Iowa State, Washington State or Indiana. The plaintiffs are "seeking big slices of two main revenue areas, both tied to players' images and likenesses," as well as one-third of videogame revenue from schools and half of TV revenue, which to athletic departments like Ohio State is "gravy, and losing half of it wouldn't be crippling." A "worst-case-scenario hit" for OSU would amount to $12.4M in lost TV revenues, or "less than 9% of total athletic revenues." Small schools also can "breathe easy." If Western Kentucky lost $500,000 in TV revenues, that "would hardly decimate the Hilltoppers." But for a school like ISU, losing half of its TV rights money "would gouge 24% of revenue from an athletic department that runs on a break-even basis." These calculations "assume the plaintiffs are awarded the percentages they're seeking." A jury could "award a lower percentage, or both sides could settle for a lower percentage" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/14).
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