SBD/October 29, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

EA Sports Ends Relationship With Tiger Woods, With Company Working On New Golf Title

Woods' loss of the EA deal leaves him with two sponsors from before his scandal
EA Sports last night said it is parting ways with Tiger Woods for its golf videogame, ending one of the gaming industry’s most prominent athlete endorsements after more than 15 years. The company said it is instead developing a golf game for the forthcoming Xbox One and PlayStation 4 without Woods, but did not disclose further details regarding potential licensed intellectual property beyond its existing, exclusive deal with the PGA Tour. The golf title also has been buttressed in recent years by the use of marks and imagery from Augusta National Golf Club. EA Sports had been one of Woods’ staunchest corporate supporters during his sex scandal-related troubles of ’09-10, and Woods’ connection to “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” in some ways resembled what the company and Pro Football HOFer John Madden have for the “Madden NFL” franchise. Since then, though, he has been on multiple shared covers, including ones with Rory McIlroy and Arnold Palmer. The company branded its parting with Woods as a “mutual decision.” EA Sports VP & GM of Golf Daryl Holt said, "We’ve always been big fans of Tiger and we wish him continued success in all his future endeavors.” The company declined to provide more detail into its reasoning. The discontinuing of “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” follows EA Sports’ announcement last month to shut down "NCAA Football" amid continued legal uncertainties surrounding the collegiate licensing landscape. Only Nike and NetJets remain as sponsors of Woods that were with him prior to his scandal. Meanwhile, EA Sports yesterday publicly released a screenshot of its work-in-progress golf game, which does not have a projected release date. Woods is now in licensing talks with another, undisclosed videogame company (Eric Fisher, Staff Writer). ESPN.com's Darren Rovell noted the title has sold $771M worth of games "over the course of its lifetime." Woods' agent Mark Steinberg said, "We had an incredible run. ... But times are changing and EA had to re-evaluate the partnership and frankly so did we" (ESPN.com, 10/28).
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