By: Jaden Narwal
ESPN has announced it will be broadcasting a game on May 3rd between the Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans with a “Marvel-themed” telecast. The concept will air on ESPN2 with the title “Arena of Heroes.” The game will be called in a Marvel-themed studio and include a number of characters such as Black Panther, Iron Man, and Captain Marvel. A number of stars from the game will be incorporated into a Marvel storyline, in which the characters are recruiting players to fight alongside them as Marvel’s Champions. Many believe this is in an attempt to boost viewership amongst NBA on ESPN broadcasts, which are down 15% from last year.
While both Marvel and ESPN are Disney-owned companies, this concept is the first of its kind. Themed telecasts have been proven to be effective in the past, an example being Nickelodeon airing telecasts aimed at children for NFL regular-season games.
Marvel and Disney+ are coming off of extremely impressive runs, releasing some of the most highly rated and popular television series of the past year. They started off by releasing Wanadavision which was the world’s most-watched show when it released during the month of January, even beating out Netflix’s most popular series in history, Bridgerton. Their most recent show, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier topped the Neilsen Streaming chart after their first two episodes.
It is clear that ESPN would like to incorporate themselves into the success and attention that Marvel has gained. For the 2021 NFL Draft, ESPN is teaming up with Marvel to create a magazine cover that displays the incoming athletes such as Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson, while paying homage to the original Marvel comic covers.
In 2021, streaming services have been capturing the attention of viewers, and subscription numbers have increased immensely. If this telecast proves to be a success, we will be sure to see more themes from the Disney family incorporated in the future.