SBD/June 16, 2011/Media

NBCUniversal Partners With Stan Lee's NHL-Themed Guardian Project

NBCUniversal has "entered into a venture with Guardian Media Entertainment, parent of the Guardian Project, a new franchise of superheroes created by Stan Lee and done in partnership" with the NHL, according to Joe Flint of the L.A. TIMES. As part of the agreement, NBCU "will promote the Guardian Project on its various media platforms." In return, the Comcast-owned entity is "getting an equity stake in Guardian Media Entertainment." Content that "could emerge from the venture include graphic novels, television series and movies." Flint noted the deal "deepens the relationship between NBCUniversal and the NHL," which recently extended their TV rights deal for the next 10 years (LATIMES.com, 6/15). DAILY VARIETY's Marc Graser notes "while the Guardians' wranglers are eyeing various spinoffs to appeal to different age groups, the NHL sees the comicbook characters as a way to reach out to younger audiences and turn them into new hockey fans." NHL Exec VP/Marketing Brian Jennings: "We're starting a conversation with the next generation of NHL fans and NBCUniversal'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." AHL Connecticut Whale President & COO Howard Baldwin, a longtime film producer, "brokered the deal with NBCU" (DAILY VARIETY, 6/16).

KING OF THIS SATELLITE CASTLE: Universal Sports Network and DirecTV yesterday announced a multiyear distribution agreement, the first between the two companies. Universal Sports will launch on a free preview basis to all DirecTV customers in August, before moving to DirecTV's Sports Pack and other select packages on October 1 (THE DAILY). DirecTV also "acquires full digital rights to Universal Sports content, meaning DirecTV will be able to distribute the net's programming across all its Web and mobile services, including those still in development" (VARIETY.com, 6/15).
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