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ESPN to Debut Marvel-Themed Broadcast for Warriors vs. Pelicans

Sports Illustrated logo Sports Illustrated 4/23/2021 Ben Pickman
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ESPN and Marvel are teaming up to debut a Marvel-inspired game broadcast.

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ESPN and Marvel are teaming up to debut the first-ever Marvel-inspired broadcast of an NBA game. 

The two brands announced Friday they will be collaborating on the themed telecast for the Warriors vs. Pelicans game on May 3. The special-edition broadcast will air on ESPN2, ESPN+ and ESPN Deportes, with the traditional game telecast airing on ESPN.

“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,” Mike Pasciullo, Marvel Entertainment's vice president of marketing and communications said in a statement.

According to ESPN's official release, "the telecast will integrate elements from an original Marvel story and iconic characters including Iron Man, Black Panther, Captain Marvel, Captain America, Black Widow, and Doctor Strange throughout the live game, including 3D virtual characters, custom graphics and animation packages."

Some of the game's stars will also achieve "Marvel Hero points" for their on-court achievements. The player on the winning team who records the most Marvel Hero points will be crowned as Marvel’s first champion.

ESPN commentators Ryan Ruocco and Richard Jefferson will broadcast the game from a custom, Marvel-themed studio.

The partnership between ESPN and Marvel comes as broadcast partners test various alternate broadcasts to try and engage fans in new ways. 

ViacomCBS aired an NFL playoff game between the Saints and the Bears on Nickelodeon in January. The broadcast featuring animated graphic overlays and some of the network's signature green slime.

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