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Miracle Without Synergy

Behold the (non) Miracle of corporate synergy!

I am ridiculously excited about seeing the new hockey flick Miracle, in part because the food at the movie theatre will probably be cheaper than the food at actual hockey arenas, and in part because I am curious to see how an already-stunning real life story can be made any more fabulous by Disney. However, I am the kind of filmgoer who is nerdy enough to want supplemental reading and viewing material. If there's a comic-book movie, I usually re-read the books in anticipation; if there's a book, I usually try to read it first. This is why I saw Last of the Mohicans four years after everyone else: it took me that long to get through the book. Mark Twain knew of what he wrote.

In the case of Miracle, you'd think checking out the event that caps the movie -- i.e. an Olympic hockey game -- would be no sweat. The Miracle on Ice occasionally airs on ESPN Classic. ESPN Classic, like all ESPN properties, is part of Disney's vast media empire. What better way to drive sports fans to the movie than to show the Miracle on Ice repeatedly all weekend? What better way to capture new viewers coming home from the movie all excited about hockey than to give them the chance to find ESPN Classic on the cable box, turn to it, and shriek, "There's the game!" What better way to perk up the traffic figures on any ESPN.com property than to pull out a special section on the Miracle of Ice and its aftermath?

Except that ESPN apparently went for the baffling minimalist approach instead. There's an ad on the ESPN website redirecting you to the official movie site, but there's nothing on ESPN.com that would pique the interest of the would-be filmgoer, or satisfy the curiosity of the viewer fresh from the cinema. I understand that they have to devote time to the NBA or else they'll be forced to sacrifice Trey Wingo or something, so what about their other channels? ESPN-2 is looking at the Pro Bo -zzzzzzzzzzzz. Sorry. I drifted off there. And a look at ESNP Classic's schedule shows that they aired the game once on Thursday night (when I couldn't TiVo it, owing to other obligations) The channel evidently has better things to do this weekend than show the Miracle on Ice again -- like show The Karate Kid twice in a row.

It's times like these, I really wonder if I should actually worry about media monopolization and corporate synergy, because it seems like the companies best positioned to stride across the entertainment landscape like Colossus are tripping over their own feet. I expect media consumers not to benefit from cross-media synergy most of the time: most TV networks and production companies have completely dropped the ball when it comes to using the Web to enhance their TV shows, and they really have no motivation to change their ways now since fans have demonstrated that they'll happily pick up that ball for free.

But in this instance, when a company really could have benefitted from using one medium (TV) to promote another (film), they elected to do nothing. There are no miracles at Disney, at least not when it comes to capitalizing on the potential to broadening the appeal Miracle could have had to TV viewers.


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