Big news out of Redwood City today, as Electronic Arts has announced that it has signed a five-year EXCLUSIVITY agreement with both the National Football League and Players, Inc (the marketing arm of the NFL Players Association).

Under the terms of the deal, EA gets sole rights to put NFL players, stadiums, and teams into games for PC's, handhelds, and consoles for a five year period (2006-2010). Cell phones are not included under the deal. Speaking about the deal to a gathering of reporters today, EA's chief executive Larry Probst said that the company plans to use the license for new game franchises outside of the "Madden" and "NFL Street" brands.

The deal also means that Sega and Take-Two will not be able to feature authentic NFL logos, team names, stadiums, or player likenesses in future versions of its ESPN NFL franchise. Neither company has commented on the deal between EA and the NFL, or said whether the ESPN NFL franchise will continue without authentic features.

Shares in EA rose four percent in after-hours trading, while shares in Take-Two fell nearly 7 percent.

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