The worlds of reality and its virtual cousin have been drawn ever closer with news that EA Sports is to be the new ‘Lead Partner’ of the FA Premier League which kicks into life this coming weekend.
The League changed its sponsorship model with the ending of the Barclays deal at the end of last season and so far have named Barclays again as Official Bank, though obviously at a lower cost; Carling as Official Beer; Tag Heuer as Official Timekeeper and Nike as the Official Ball.
The EA Sports deal is the largest to date though. It is not clear when or if additional ‘Lead Partners’ will be named though their are a number of obvious gaps including in the airline and auto sectors.
The expanded partnership will include on-screen branding on all the League’s global broadcasts, sponsorship of the official Player of the Month and Season Awards, EA Sports integration in stadia pre-match, and continued sponsorship of Fantasy Premier League.
“EA Sports are recognised the world over for the hugely popular FIFA game series, which millions of Premier League fans engage with every day, making them a great fit to be Lead Partner of the League,” said Premier League Managing Director Richard Masters.
“This partnership will allow EA Sports to collaborate even more with the League and the clubs, and to be part of the interest and excitement around the competition, both through their fantastic games and the association with the Premier League that this agreement brings.”
The real commercial value for the brand lies in the continued exclusivity of its Electronic Game license which means all the data, club details, grounds, players, managers and more will feature in the FIFA Series.
FIFA 17 launches in the autumn and is expected to generate over €1 billion in sales.
The Premier League deal is an echo of one signed earlier in the summer with La Liga in Spain. The brand also has deals with clubs including Bayern Munich and Juventus where there are gaming pods installed for fans to trial and play the games online before or after watching the traditional form of the game that still, of now, uses real players.
“This expanded partnership brings our milliions of players even closer to the Premier League,” said EA Sports Global Marketing Vice President Jamie McKinlay.
“This year is an especially exciting one for Premier League fans as we debut The Journey, a brand new mode within FIFA 17 in which fans will live their story on and off the pitch as Premier League prospect Alex Hunter.”