We live in the age of the impossibly big corporation. Mammoth entities with a complex web of departments allotting hundreds of wildly divergent tasks, all designed to catch as many profit flies as possible. Take media, for instance, where, under the command of CEO Bob Iger, the Walt Disney Company has claimed all the intellectual property their tendrils can touch, packaging it together in a content hydra that dominates the box office and swings a giant axe in the streaming wars. Marvel, Pixar, The Muppets, Star Wars: if a broad audience has any fondness for it, Disney will buy it—and they’ll wring as much marketable content out of it as possible.
And so, on Monday night, in pursuit of the glory of pure corporate synergy, Disney’s popular sports network, ESPN, hosted a Marvel superhero-themed broadcast of the Golden State Warriors and New Orleans Pelicans game on ESPN2. It was called “The Arena of Heroes.” It is an unprecedented event in the history of sport/comic book-superhero crossovers, I guess. It was a singular product of corporate monoculture, and, according to this person who writes about sports business for The Athletic from time to time, a brilliant gambit hatched from the mind of Bob Iger, the world’s great visionary “genius.”
It’s true: only Bob Iger could have made this happen, and not only because no one else would have been interested in making it happen in the first place. Look, you own properties, you gotta smush them together and see if any magic comes out. That’s just business 101, baby. Why else would you even hire a cadre of antitrust lawyers if not for the opportunity to air themed broadcasts of late-season NBA games between two teams struggling to make the playoffs?