Marveling At A New Opportunity For ESPN…

It was only a few years ago that Marvel Entertainment caused an uproar amongst baseball traditionalists by trying to put spider webs on the bases at MLB games as part of their promotion for the first.Spiderma. movie. The backlash caused MLB and Marvel to scale down the promotion and saved the.sanctity of white base. for the time. Flash forward to toda.s more challenged times, where outfield signage and in game promotions dominate as a way to gain more ROI for partners, and MLB is now one of the leaders in finding ways to integrate unique content and promotions into their games and production, albeit still not on the bases.

So what does Monda.s announcement of Disney purchasing Marvel, once a company near bankruptcy but now one worth in excess of $4 billion, mean to the sports worl. Well it could make for some interesting promotions and opportunities, given Disne.s position with ESPN and other sports-related properties. One reason given for the purchase was Disne.s desire to create character platforms and marketing opportunities both for boys and the overall male audience to mirror the platforms they have with current Disney characters for girls and women. The success Disney had with Pixar, especially the NASCAR-themed Cars platform, gives Disney/Marvel a great ent.e into what could be done with a sports platform. After all, to project athletes as real life super heroes, and now have the ability to easily pair them in various forms of media with superheros that Disney will now own, is a great step forward. Yes Marvel and DC have done one-off promotions in sports before. But there are limits to what one can do when the images and likeness of the characters are not being marketed by a multi-platform broadcaster and media partner like Disney/ESPN. Now Disney has both real-life and fictional superheroes in their stable to work together wit.a platform to attract and enhance casual viewership and promotions that did.t really exist in one place before. Will we see Spidey swinging into the ESPN broadcast sometime soo. Maybe but not probably. Could you see promotions featuring all the Disney/Marvel characters with their league broadcast partners and the athletes in those league. Sure can. Although it probably was.t the focus of the merger, the possibilities for full integration of some of the greatest fictional characters into sports and fitness programs, through the platforms of ESPN, can be a very effective offshoot of Monda.s announcement, and one that can be a huge revenue driver in brand partnerships, licensing and enhancement of league, team and athlete relations for years to come.

Some other good reads…Eric Fisher in the Sports Business Journal had a good piece on Fantasy Sports ventures expansion into even more digital integration with brands…Jack Bell in the New York Times has a look at the Red Bulls latest makeover and what the future holds…and Rich Deitsch has his August Power Rankings on si.com...

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