Guardian Media Entertainment recently announced its unprecedented equity partnership with NBC Universal. What exactly does this partnership promise to bring? It will provide cross-platform media support of ongoing content and product launches for The Guardian Project, which is a Stan Lee superhero franchise that includes 30 superheroes representing each NHL Club. This robust media inventory, which supplements marketing and promotion from the NHL and its member clubs, will provide a multi-million dollar commitment for The Guardian Project.
The Guardian Project has been developed for trans-media storytelling and GME will continually roll out plotlines for all 30 original superheroes across multiple platforms over a number of years. In the near-term, GME intends to launch a publishing initiative consisting of comic books and a novel in addition to the expansion of Guardian Project branded merchandise currently available for sale at retail, online and in-arena. The Guardian Project brand will be extended through social and mobile gaming platforms in the first quarter of 2012. GME is also in early stages of discussions for development of a television series and long-term plans include the creation of films, games, theme park presence and global extensions.
Howard Baldwin, former part-owner of the two-time Stanley Cup® Champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the Hartford Whalers, producer of the Academy Award-winning motion picture “Ray” and Chairman of the Board of GME played a primary role in brokering the deal with Comcast-NBCU. “This groundbreaking transaction with NBCU represents a vote of confidence in our management team and our unprecedented business model that combines the branding power and extensive fan base of one of the largest sports leagues with new intellectual property,” said Baldwin. “The promotion and marketing provided by NBCU in support of The Guardian Project will allow my colleagues Adam Baratta, Chief Creative Officer and Mark Terry, Chief Operating Officer, and me to forge new territory in development, production and worldwide distribution deals for television, film, gaming, sponsorship and other brand extensions.”
“Since the inception of GME, our goal has been to partner with a major media company that has broadly distributed consumer platforms to exponentially increase the awareness and scope of The Guardian Project,” states Mark Terry, Chief Operating Officer of GME. “With NBCUniversal as our partner, our management team has the opportunity to hasten the development of our business, and our colleague, Aldo LaPietra, Co-Founder and EVP of Business Development, will be on the forefront of seeking out these opportunities.”
It is the story that will expand The Guardian Project into a worldwide entertainment franchise. Stan Lee, his producing partner Gill Champion and POW! will oversee all creative direction and story development. “Partnering with NBCU is a welcomed addition to GME and provides unique opportunities that are unparalleled when combined with an original Stan Lee franchise,” states Champion, CEO of POW!
“Just as we are excited to be partners with the NHL for the next 10 years, we are also excited to enter into this new venture with GME that engages young fans in new, unique ways through the magic of Stan Lee,” said John Miller, Chief Marketing Officer, NBC Universal Television Group.
The establishment of GME and The Guardian Project, by SLGE and NHLE, was announced last October at New York Comic-Con. In January of this year, a month-long social media campaign enabled fans to vote to determine the daily reveal of each Guardian. All 30 Guardians were unveiled in a theatrical style presentation during the 2011 NHL All-Star Game, which boasted the highest ratings ever for an NHL All-Star Game telecast on Versus. The debut of The Guardian Project produced more than 2 million visitors and over 13 million page views on guardianproject30.com and was number one on Google Trends immediately following the NHL All-Star Game broadcast.
“The Guardian Project is a great way for us to engage with casual fans and a broader audience,” said Brian Jennings, NHL Executive Vice President of Marketing. “We’re starting a conversation with the next generation of NHL fans and NBC Universal’s strength as a global media company, its commitment to hockey and its proven track record of leveraging sports and entertainment will elevate The Guardian Project within the NHL fan base and beyond,” said Jennings.
As previously announced, NBC Universal, the Comcast unit that runs the company’s television networks, recently struck a groundbreaking 10-year deal with the NHL that runs through the 2020-2021 season. With the new terms, NBC Universal channels will air more regular season and Stanley Cup Playoff games, and includes rights to online-video streaming of the games.
For more information on Guardian Media Entertainment and The Guardian Project, log on to www.guardianproject30.com.