Last year the National Hockey League introduced a series of comic-book superheroes intended to represent each of the 30 NHL teams. The heroes and their stories are part of The Guardian Project, which in turn is overseen by comic artists and legend Stan Lee. A joint group called Guardian Media Entertainment (GME), which comprises Lee's SLG Entertainment and NHL Entertainment, was introduced last fall at the Comic-Con convention in New York.
Each of the superheroes were revealed in a fashion that was determined via a social media campaign early this year, and the 30 were presented at the NHL All-Star Game this year. The league says that game garnered the highest ratings to date for NHL All-Star telecast on Versus, and that the Guardian Project produced more than 2 million visitors and over 13 million page views on the GuardianProject30.com Web site.
Now GME will join in an equity partnership with NBC Universal (NBCU) wherein the latter will give cross-platform media support around content and product launches for the project. The deal, which supplements marketing and promotion from the NHL and clubs, includes a multimillion-dollar commitment. It comes on the heels of Comcast unit NBCU's 10-year deal with the NHL, wherein NBCU's channels will air more regular-season and Stanley Cup Playoff games through the 2020-21 season and stream games online as well.
GME said in a statement that the Guardian Project will involve story lines elaborated in comic book series, and a novel. Lee and producing partner Gill Champion and their POW! venture will oversee story development for the project.
The organization will also add new products to its project portfolio that comprises branded merchandise already on sale at retail, online and at hockey arenas. GME says it will tout the Guardian Project brand in social and mobile gaming platforms starting next year. The company said it is in talks with NBCU about developing a TV series as well. "Long-term plans include the creation of films, games, theme park presence and global extensions," says GME in a release.
The GME deal with NBCU was brokered by Howard Baldwin, former part-owner of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Hartford Whalers, and producer of the Academy Award-winning motion picture "Ray" and chairman of the board of GME.