Sega snags the ESPN license

ESPN and Sega team up for upcoming Sega Sports games.

Sega has announced that it has signed a multiyear agreement with ESPN that will allow Sega to use the presentation of ESPN programming in its sports games. In addition, as part of the agreement, ESPN will help promote Sega's lineup of sports games through various forms of advertising. The ESPN license will allow Sega to change the look of the menus and the overall interface in its upcoming 2K3 games to mimic the presentation of various ESPN shows. NFL 2K3's interface and menus will be changed so that it looks like Sunday Night Football, while NHL 2K3 will be changed to resemble National Hockey Night. Unfortunately, Sega doesn't have enough time to incorporate as many of the ESPN features as it would've liked, but future versions of Sega Sports game will feature even a higher level of ESPN integration, including commentators from ESPN shows.

"We will be pulling ESPN's look, feel, and presentation elements and putting them directly into our games," said Tom Nichols, group director of sports marketing at Sega. "You'll see our statistics have the appropriate fonts and formatting of ESPN's live telecasts. You'll see the score bug in the corner, camera angles, intros, replays, and sports tickers."

"Eventually, we'll be integrating the ESPN talent into our games," Nichols added. "The commentary features in our games are very important--we feel that we have a real strength there versus our competition. With thousands of lines of voice-overs in our games, it requires a significant investment in time and resources from the talent. For most of the 2K3 products, we were not able to turn this around fast enough to get the ESPN talent into our games, but over time the goal is to get more ESPN talent and other [ESPN elements], like intros and SportsCenter highlights in the middle of the game, to increase the ESPN integration."

"ESPN is absolutely the best when it comes to sports telecast presentations," said Greg Thomas, president of Visual Concepts Entertainment, the development house behind the Sega Sports 2K series. "Incorporating ESPN elements into Sega Sports games will make them even more authentic, bridging the gap between a sports TV presentation and an immersive sports video game experience. Our development team has added key features that people recognize and identify with so that the end result is a sports video game that is unmatched in the industry."

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Too bad the EA juggernaut simply crowded Sega out of the biz. Their games (SEGA's) were equivalent but didn't have the marketing muscle needed to truly push another corporation around, especially an, at the time, large competitor in EA. Sega even countered EA's marketing muscle with a $19.99 price point for a new version of their games, for a year, and that still didn't get enough people's attention, so they sold Visual Concepts and the 2K brand to Take Two Interactive. Perhaps Sega will attempt a foray into the sports world again, but I understand why they want to wait until they have shown big profits with their current stable of games, at least in their core market of Japan. This is where they enjoy much success still, at least enough to sustain them.