Many of Tiger Woods’ sponsors walked away from their client late last year following the fallout from his sex scandal.
One of the sponsors that stood with Woods was EA Sports. The gaming company has a ton invested in Woods with its “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” series. EA Sports announced that it would continue to publish games in the series while many of Woods’ sponsors — Gatorade, Accenture and AT&T — dropped his name from their products.
The newest game in the series — “Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11” — debuts June 8 and includes the Ryder Cup tournament for the first time.
The decision will likely pay off for EA as Woods continues to rebuild his image following a stay in rehab and an admission of extramarital affairs. Woods came off sincere Monday in his Masters tournament news conference — the first time he’s taken questions from a full room of media since the scandal broke in November.
As he continues to play and the questions of his infidelity subside, many will likely go back to remembering Woods as just a golfer. The “Tiger Woods brand” will rebound, and EA will benefit most.
EA Sports needed Woods to navigate through his personal problems and come out strong because it didn’t want to have to drop the gaming franchise.
EA doesn’t have a license for baseball games, and it decided to let its NASCAR partnership expire. The company has also dropped its college basketball game.
So without a golf game, EA would have been left with two main franchises — “Madden NFL” and “NBA Live.”
The company will debut a MMA game this year, but it won’t have many of the most famous fighters because it doesn’t have a deal with the UFC. The company also has a NHL franchise.
Golf and football are the only two franchises EA owns that don’t get competition from other companies. Basketball, hockey and MMA all have competitors that cut into the market share.
So keeping the “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” franchise was important, and getting a hit out of this year’s game could help the overall health of EA Sports.
The “Tiger Woods PGA Tour” series has been strong for the past few years. There shouldn’t be a dropoff with this year’s version.
EA’s decision to stick with Woods appears to have paid off with the golfer’s return to the sport. The game’s release could also help Woods’ return as a marketable star.