ESPN will have a Star Wars-themed MLB broadcast on May 4th, which is also known as Star Wars Day. That is the day after ESPN will have their special Avengers-themed broadcast of the Warriors-Pelicans game. Just listen to this, via The Wrap:
For the broadcast, ESPN will have its on-air commentators dressed in full costumes: Karl Ravech (play-by-play) as Luke Skywalker, Tim Kurkjian (analyst) as Yoda and Eduardo Perez (analyst) as Poe Dameron. Ravech and Kurkjian will be in ESPN’s Bristol, Conn., studios, while Perez will be at his home in Miami.
Reporter Marly Rivera will report from Yankee Stadium to capture anything being done in-stadium to celebrate “Star Wars,” and the broadcast will also feature custom animation and graphics.
Ignoring for a moment how bleak this sounds, it will be fun to watch Scott Van Pelt make Kurkjian giggle for 10 straight minutes by showing him pictures of himself dressed as Yoda on every 11 p.m SportsCenter for the rest of the year.
Now back into the crevass.
If you have a sneaking suspicion this is here to stay, you are not alone. Maybe this was an inevitability. With declining viewership numbers for everything, content producers have to figure out a way to draw the eyes of content consumers. All it took was someone brave enough to say, "Why don't we make the entire basketball game out of Marvel?" From there it only took days (weeks? minutes?) for someone to say, hey, you know we own Star Wars too, right?
It's not like product tie-ins haven't existed forever. Any network broadcasting the World Series always has the stars of some new show sitting in great seats. Advertisements are everywhere. On the floor. On jerseys. On the sideline. All over the stadium. They even put advertisements in commercials these days.
But this is somehow different. It's a shift. They used to use games to sell trucks and beer and truck insurance. How long until the game takes place inside the extended Coors Genuine Light Extended Universe?
Again, this isn't revelatory. ESPN is just recycling old minor-league baseball promotions. Star Wars night! Marvel night! How long until they're asking fans to stick around after the game for a fireworks show? Can we interest you in a magnetic schedule for PTI? If they sent you a Kurkjian-Yoda bobblehead ahead of a future game, would you sit in front of your computer with it for nine innings just so you could wave for half a second on national television? Just think about the virtual audience for the NBA's bubble games. We have the technology. And we're just a few days from having Kurkjian painted green with pointy ears glued to the side of his head.
There's a very limited number of people who want to go to a meaningless minor-league baseball game in the middle of the summer. There are a million other options. That's literally what television executives are fighting right now. A million other options.
Anytime ESPN broadcasts a game, there's probably some kind of promotion going on at the ballpark or stadium. You know, something the team is using to lure normal people to the game to buy actual tickets and fill the seats unoccupied by actual fans. If it has anything to do with a Disney property, why wouldn't ESPN get involved? How many games into ESPN's new deal with the NHL before we have Frozen night with Josh Gadd showing up to do the Olaf voice?
It all makes too much sense to not happen. If you make a few new fans along the way, great. If you don't, at least people are thinking about streaming the Avengers after the game ends. That's really all that matters. So just let it go. May the product intergortion be with you.