With NBA Ratings In Decline, Disney Tries To Provide A Boost With The Marvel Cinematic Universe

Disney’s Marvel Studios will team-up with Disney-owned ESPN to provide a Marvel-themed telecast called “Arena of Heroes” for the May 3rd game between the Golden State Warriors and the New Orleans Pelicans.

This telecast will feature Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Widow, and Doctor Strange as 3D virtual characters.

Source: Chris Smoove YouTube

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Iron Man and Black Panther will recruit three players from both teams to stop an impending threat. 

For the Golden State Warriors the players are Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Andrew Wiggins. Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball will be recruited from the Pelicans.

Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

As the game progresses, the players will be awarded Marvel Hero Points for every point, rebound, assist, block, and steal. However, they will lose points if they miss shots and turnover the ball.

It’s unclear what the purpose of the Marvel Hero Points are. My personal speculation is they might power up attacks of the Marvel heroes to fight back against this unnamed threat. 

Not only will this telecast feature a number of Avengers as 3D virtual characters, but commentators Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson will be set up in Marvel-themed studio to call the game. They will be joined by Angélique Roché, who will provide analysis.

Source: Marvel’s Avengers

Vice President of Programming and Acquisitions at ESPN stated, “We’re eager for fans to experience this unique, innovative presentation that will pair Marvel and ESPN’s exceptional storytelling and production.”

He added, “We are proud to showcase the ‘larger than life’ abilities of these NBA stars in a manner in which only Disney and Marvel can deliver.”

Source: Marvel’s Avengers

Marvel Entertainment Vice President of Marketing and Communications Mike Pasciullo said, “Marvel and ESPN have brought the worlds of sports and superheroes together for years through comics, documentaries, and other stories celebrating athletes and their extraordinary abilities.”

He added, “The new Marvel’s Arena of Heroes telecast will be the first of its kind to bring Marvel’s storytelling directly to the real-time experience of a NBA game, and we are excited for fans to be able to watch their favorite players through the lens of Marvel’s mightiest heroes.”

The “Arena of Heroes” broadcast will air on ESPN 2 and ESPN Deportes. It will also be available to stream on ESPN+. The regular broadcast of the game will air on ESPN.

Source: Marvel’s Avengers

The move comes as the NBA’s television ratings have plummeted.

Newsweek reports, “Data from more recent NBA action shows a decrease in ratings and TV viewership, as ESPN drew a .6 rating for a recent game between the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers, which is down 41 percent from a comparable night in 2019.”

They also note that, “For the week ending on March 28, ShowBuzzDaily data shows NBA TV ratings remaining below .70. Data from 2019 shows that comparable games during the same time period received rating ranging from .68 to .91.”

Source: Bleacher Report YouTube

Along with the decline in ratings, a poll from Yahoo News/YouGov found that 34.5 percent of respondents said they were watching less sports because of social justice messaging. Only 11 percent of respondents said they were watching more because of social justice messaging.

Interestingly enough, this move by Marvel and ESPN will arrive just two months before WarnerMedia releases Space Jam: A New Legacy on HBO Max and in theaters.

What do you make of this move by Disney to to try and bolster faltering NBA ratings on ESPN with Marvel heroes?

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