(For other news from the Reuters Global Media Summit, click here)
* Tiger has not won a tournament this year
* Still plans version of Tiger console video game next year
* Tiger lost up to $35 mln in annual sponsorship revenue
By Ben Klayman
NEW YORK, Nov 29 Electronic Arts Inc ERTS.O has
no immediate plans to drop Tiger Woods as the pitchman for its
golf video games, but the world's former top golfer needs to get
some wins under his belt, the video game publisher's top executive
said on Monday.
About a year ago, Woods was involved in an early morning auto
accident that led to revelations about marital infidelities, the
loss of up to $35 million in annual sponsorship revenue and
divorce from his wife. [ID:nN19164445]
Since then, Woods has not won a tournament and has lost his
ranking as the world's No. 1 pro golfer, but EA has declined to
abandon him. It even has plans to introduce a 2012 version of its
Tiger Woods console video game next year, but EA Chief Executive
John Riccitiello said Woods needs to end his losing streak.
"This is no threat against Tiger," Ricitiello said at the
Reuters Global Media Summit in New York. "We're with him because
he has the promise of being the world's best golfer.
"We have no plans to move away from him, but it's a business
relationship on the basis of we make the best golf game and he's
the best golfer," he added. "Both of those things need to be true
in the long run for the partnership to make sense."
EA recently launched a golf game on Facebook that did not
carry Woods' name, but company executives said that had been the
intention all along. Riccitiello said there are no plans to
abandon the struggling golfer and adding games that don't carry
Woods' name is being done to reach more gamers.
"We're broadening the appeal of our golf business," he said.
Woods' off-field problems do not worry EA, but Riccitiello
acknowledged the golfer may never regain his previous level of
dominance on the greens.
Nevertheless, Woods' struggles have not cost EA anything and
executives feel loyalty toward him, Ricitiello said.
"He sort of stuck with us for a very long time and we made
great business together," Riccitiello said, "and we're willing to
give him the benefit of the doubt for a period of time."
(For more on the Reuters Global Media Summit, see
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in New York; Editing by Phil