MTV going deep for 'Madden 08'

Program about EA game's history, top players to air on Xbox Live

To help promote this week's release of Electronic Arts' "Madden NFL 08," MTV has produced a 20-minute show about the evolution of the game and the most successful "money plays" that have been developed by gamers during the past 17 years.

The show will air next week on Xbox Live, with two- to three-minute vignettes taken from the show running on several MTV platforms and footage from the game airing on MTV's "TRL." MTV has produced several other shows about EA games as part of its continuing efforts to orchestrate marketing solutions for its advertisers, but this is the first one that will air on a gaming platform rather than just on MTV or its sister networks.

"We've never distributed content this way," said Tim Rosta, senior vp integrated marketing at MTV. "We've never created shortform content on our assets that then pushed to longform content on something like Xbox Live. We're breaking the mold on the very traditional way that networks promote their partnerships. We're increasingly approaching each of these relationships in a unique way, creating solutions that work for each advertising partner."

"Madden NFL 07" was the top-selling video game last year, with about 7.4 million copies sold in North America — 2 million of them in the first week. EA has sold about 60 million copies since the game series launched in 1990, generating more than $2 billion in retail sales. "Madden NFL 08" is expected to be another major hit; the game went on sale at midnight Tuesday, supported by a huge marketing and promotional campaign that included a concert by Ozzy Osbourne performed above the Hard Rock Cafe in New York's Times Square.

The MTV-produced show, which will feature some of the most successful "Madden" gamers, the so-called "money plays" they have used to beat their opponents — which have been incorporated into the game by EA developers — and footage from "Madden NFL 08," also will give MTV some gaming content of its own in the form the vignettes.

"They're hiring us to tell the story of 'Madden,' of these players and what some of these outstanding players and game developers have created together," Rosta said. " 'Madden' is a great franchise with great content that really allows for this unique opportunity for the content to be pushed out on all the platforms. I think it says to our audience that we're in the gaming business. There's great rub-off from the 'Madden' brand."

The MTV-produced vignettes will begin airing on MTV2 and on MTV's high-definition network, MHD, on Aug. 22, and on and on Aug. 24. The vignettes will drive viewers to the full program airing on Xbox Live from Aug. 22-24. "We're hoping we'll all drive more eyeballs and more engagement to all of our platforms," Rosta said. The vignettes, which will also be available on VOD beginning Aug. 31, will air on MTV platforms through month's end.

EA said the launch of the programming on Xbox and MTV platforms presented a great opportunity to reach both audiences. "This is the first time we're partnering to actually premiere original content inside the Xbox marketplace environment," said Michael Herst, senior manager, entertainment development and programming at EA. "I think you reach a different sort of audience inside the console environment — more of a hard-core gaming audience. Having the ability to create content that works for both for the Xbox Live as well as on-air is a great opportunity."