Extending its TV-sports marketing efforts, Stan Lee's "The Guardian Project," a bunch of comic-book hockey-theme superheroes, has struck a marketing and equity deal with NBC Universal.
Lee's comic-animation story, which focuses superheroes representing each of the National Hockey League's 30 teams, launched in October around a deal with the NHL. "The Guardian Project" is owned by Guardian Media Entertainment, a company formed by SLG Entertainment led by Stan Lee of POW! Entertainment and NHL Enterprises.
NBC is the broadcast partner of the NHL and most recently extended the arrangement, striking a 10-year deal with the league to air games on the NBC network and its cable network Versus.
Both the NHL and NBC see these characters as a way to reach out to younger audiences.
Already, NHL teams have been using the "Guardian" characters in local markets promotions, selling apparel and other merchandise featuring the animated athletes. Comic books and a novel are in development, as well as social and gaming options. In January, the first characters started rolling out during the 2011 NHL All-Star Game.
Though the deal is only marketing-based right now, NBC Universal, with a minority equity stake in the property, could be involved in developing TV series, films, comic books, games, licensed merchandise and theme park attractions. The deal allows Guardian Media Entertainment to also develop entertainment extensions with other TV producers.
"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," stated Mark Terry, COO of GME.