With EA Paying College Athletes For Video Games, Can Live TV Games Be Far Behind?
Looks like college athletes in future will get paid for their likenesses on TV screens -- for video games. What about for regular football games, as well as for promoting the selling of cookies, skin cream and sports nutrition drinks?
Sounds like an easy score.
What about big professional sports contracts for athletes, you say? No surprise here: Not every single college athlete gets to become a professional athlete.
You may believe those billions from TV contracts are sent to colleges to help them build new facilities. But maybe a trust should be set up for college athletes. Maybe we all need to share.
Right now, the NCAA has rules about college athletes profiting from their names, likenesses and popularity. But yet others can profit. Those “rules” appear to be showing some cracks.
In fact, the NCAA’s legal battle with ex-college athletes like UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon is ongoing. What started with a lawsuit against video game publisher EA Sport, has expanded to include any and all media and merchandising efforts, including television.
EA Sports, seemingly wanting to rid itself of this relatively smaller problem, has settled its part of the lawsuit. EA’s big video game seller continues to be the Madden NFL football game series.
Defending itself, one of EA’s vice presidents said EA’s business deals for college sports rights aren’t that much different than other business deals the NCAA makes -- likening EA's use of athletes' images in its games to "companies that broadcast college games and those that provide equipment and apparel."
That association doesn’t appear helpful to future NCAA legal dealings, or to the NCAA’s big TV deals worth billions. In theory, if college athletes get their intended freedom, colleges would get less money. Some might call it capitalism.
For sports-minded TV marketers? Some might take an early hit: EA Sports’ stock dropped 1% on Friday on the news of the deal.
For the long term, we believe new forms of sports marketing will be afoot. Paying Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel to sign autographs? That will only be the start.