Have you noticed the EA Sports logo popping up on-screen during Sky Sports' football coverage? Of course you have – it's everywhere. Turns out Ofcom, the UK broadcasting regulator, has noticed, too – and isn't happy.
A viewer complained that the use of the EA Sports logo was "irrelevant", "unnecessary" and "blatant" during a match - and sparked an Ofcom investigation.
The complaint, according to Media Week, relates to the Everton versus Manchester United game from 11th September last year. During the Sky Sports 2 match EA branding popped up 14 times, such as around match statistics.
Sky responded to Ofcom's queries by saying that EA was an "Official Sports Technology Partner" to the Premier League and that, as part of its contractual agreement with the Premier League for the live broadcast of certain matches, it is required, subject to applicable laws and the Ofcom codes, to provide an on-screen credit.
Sky said it always retains editorial independence and merely included reference to EA any time it used technical services supplied by the Premier League.
Responding, Ofcom said "sports coverage is a genre in which branding and general commercial exposure can be expected" and that "audiences generally accept and understand that branding".
It noted that there was sufficient editorial justification for broadcasters to show brief and limited credits for companies who provide technical services to sports events and coverage. For example, the display of the names of companies who supply timing services when lap times and finishing times were shown.
However, in that sense, EA Sports was not an official technology partner as it did not supply any of the data, which was split between an outsourced company and Sky Sports' own internal data. Therefore, Ofcom ruled, there was no editorial justification for using the EA Sports logo. The only purpose it could serve was to promote the EA name and trademark. Shocking.
Ofcom ruled that Sky Sports had breached Rule 10.3 of the Broadcast Code, which states that products and services must not be promoted in programmes. On the Everton Man U match, Ofcom said the 14 appearances of the EA logo gave "undue prominence" to the company.
Although no further action will be taken against Sky Sports, it is another blow to EA Sports' relationship with the broadcaster.