ESPN Signs on Playdom to Develop ESPN-Branded Sports Games for Social Media Networks

ESPN Interactive today announced that it has reached a two-year agreement with Playdom, one of the leading social gaming companies, to develop ESPN-branded sports genre games for social media platforms.  The first two in development are slated to launch this Fall.

“Our deal with Playdom marks ESPN’s first major presence into the social gaming space,” said Raphael Poplock, vice president, games and revenue strategy and development for ESPN Digital Media.  “The sports genre for this category of games has gone virtually untapped thus far, and through this agreement, we have an opportunity to be in front of a highly engaged audience and at the forefront of what is currently the fastest growing games category out there.”

“While new brands have been created in the social gaming category, we, at Playdom, believe working with existing intellectual property will become increasingly important over time and are pleased to be incorporating ESPN’s brand and vast library of content into several new social games that are in development,” said John Pleasants, CEO, Playdom.

The games will launch to popular social media sites like Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Tagged and Hi5 in addition to ESPN.com and Playdom.com.  Additionally, mobile extensions from ESPN and Playdom will also be available.

The U.S. and U.K. alone represent roughly more than 100 million social gamers.  Of that audience, 95 percent play multiple times per week and 68 percent play every single day.

ESPN Interactive has developed a successful history of collaborating with the leading gaming companies across all platforms, including console, casual and now social.  Its long-standing relationship with EA continues to expand, with deeper in-game integrations such as full broadcast treatments in titles like NBA Live 10 and NCAA Basketball 10 in 2009.  The Emmy award-winning EA Virtual Playbook also extended to new sports, including NBA and college football.  ESPN Arcade, ESPN’s casual games brand which relaunched in July, averaged 461K unique users per month on ESPN.com last year, with total time spent on the site up 90 percent to 95.5 million minutes, according to comScore.

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