ULSP publishes & markets collectible entertainment built around
the personalities of famous professional athletes through comic
books & its own Internet broadcasting company. ULSP is linking its
intellectual properties & markets outside of conventional arenas
with the tried-and-true comic book format. Other potential markets
being targeted include everything from an animated television program
& home videos to action figures & video games. Since its formation
in 1996, three comic books have been created & published with high
profile athletes from the National Basketball Association & Major
League Baseball. It is extending the scope of its efforts to include
other professional sports leagues & personalities. This ensures
a competitive barrier. It has the potential to lock down a long-term
recurring revenue stream due to the winning combination of popular
sports, well-known athletes, & collectibles.
ULSP is also creating an Internet broadcasting channel based on
its comic book properties. It intends to leverage its print creations,
translating them into Internet content & programming for its web
site. It plans to generate revenue with its Internet site by selling
advertising, comic books, player fan club & ULSP related merchandise.
Incorporated 6/28/96 in CA, ULSP commenced operations as a publisher
of comic books featuring superstar athletes in action & adventure
stories. It's goal: To be the biggest & best provider of sports-related
During its first two years, it published two comic books: "Webber's
World," starring Sacramento Kings forward Cris Webber, & "Karl Malone:
The Mailman," staring the Utah Jazz's Karl Malone.
In 3/99, it published its first Major League Baseball Players'
Association-licensed comic book, "Cosmic Slam," featuring Mark McGwire,
Sammy Sosa, Dave Justice, & Jeff Bagwell. It will be sold in toy
stores, newsstands, comic book stores, stadiums, & arenas. ULSP
will also initiate direct-marking & Internet sales campaigns. It
is negotiating a distribution deal with home shopping entities.
The efforts behind "Cosmic Slam" represent Ultimate Sports' strategy
of finding new distribution channels & aggressive marketing. Being
smaller than competitors, management elected to pursue a strategy
to strengthen its competitive position & defend itself from new
market entrants & larger, well-financed competitors. The three-element
strategy: (1) Aggressive publishing schedule; (2) Internet marketing,
promotion, & retailing; & (3) Film & television production.
Currently ULSP has no competitors in its market niche of sports-related
entertainment, but on a more general level, it competes with other
comic book publishers & animation producers. It believes its focus
on easily recog-nized, popular athletes will distinguish its product
from that of its competitors.
On 6/22/99, ULSP announced it signed a licensing contract (one
year with an option on two more) with NFL Properties & The NFL Quarterback
Club to publish a series of comic books based on NFL superstars
as animated cartoon superheroes.
"To be partners with NFL Properties, the leader of the $12
billion sports licensing industry along with the NFL Quarterback
Club is very exciting," said CEO Frederick R. Licht. "Making the
NFL an integral part of our project is another goal we've achieved
with the overall objective being the ability to have a strong presence
in the four major professional sports leagues. If the success we're
experiencing with Major League Baseball is any indication, NFL fans,
especially kids, will be ecstatic after seeing the quality products
we plan to deliver to them."
Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Terrell Davis, Dan Marino, Brett Favre,
& many other well-known NFL players will have their likenesses enhanced
with everything from superhuman strength to lightning fast speed
to x-ray vision to take on evil villains.
As part of the agreement, NFL Properties will give ULSP access
to NFL team names & logos while The NFL Quarterback Club will make
their roster of over 60 players accessible to the company for superhero
status. Tentative plans call for the comic books to be in the stadiums
of all 31 NFL teams. An additional license covering merchandise
& home video is being negotiated.
ULSP products have garnered acclaim from athletes, fans, entertainment
executives, & most importantly, the distributors that sell them.
Based on this positive response, ULSP plans to aggressively move
forward in its four areas of publishing, Internet, film & TV, &
Publishing: ULSP holds publishing licenses for:
1. Major League Baseball Players Association (likenesses of all
MLB players) 2. NFL Properties
3. NFL Quarterback Club
4. Karl Malone
5. Tim Hardaway
6. Chris Webber
It is aggressively pursing licenses with:
1. NBA (basketball)
2. WNBA (basketball)
3. NHL (hockey)
4. NASCAR (stock car racing)
5. WWF/WCW (wrestling)
Internet: ULSP believes its editorial content & material are ideal
for exploitation on the Internet. Comic book characters are easily
animated, & the simple, linear format of adventure stories is easily
encapsulated & serialized to produce cliffhanger-style animated
shorts. The Internet gives ULSP an opportunity to provide its fan
base (primarily younger sports fans) with other useful information
& such entertainment opportunities as:
1. Customizable sports tickers with professional, college, little
league, jr. high, & high school sports scores.
2. Customizable sports news aimed at a younger demographic.
3. Chat rooms where major athletes respond directly to their questions.
4. Screen savers featuring Ultimate Sports characters.
5. Animated shorts featuring ULSP characters.
6. Downloadable video & audio clips of their favorite athletes &
On the revenue side, the Internet allows ULSP to sell products
directly to fans, reap higher sales margins, & expand advertising
sales. The Internet allows ULSP to combine editorial content, merchandis-ing,
licensing, & retail ventures under one roof, & combine them with
a visual & audio "Sports Illustrated for Kids" type magazine. It
pursues its Internet goals as a "virtual broadcasting" opportunity.
Film & TV: ULSP's goal in this area is to align itself with an
animation produc-tion company with resources to produce, develop,
& distribute animation based on ULSP's properties. It is currently
negotiating a TV/film/video animation production deal with a major
animation producer. Under the "Ultimate Sports Force" banner, it
will package separate titles for launch during the appropriate sports
ULSP is pursuing an opportunity to introduce The Ultimate Sports
Force to the mass market through direct-to-video channels. This
allows it to develop recognition for its properties & prove their
viability in the animation arena, while avoiding the usual network
distribution channels. It also believes there is an opportunity
to produce "interstitials" featuring its characters for use on other
sports-related shows such as Fox's Saturday morning program, "In
After securing a niche in the domestic animation market, ULSP
will pursue opportunities in foreign markets. Many of the athletes
it works with are from, & have large fan bases in, foreign countries
(Sammy Sosa's following in Central & South America, for example).
It will also explore opportunities to license & develop comic books
& animation based on internationally popular sports, such as soccer
(an "Ultimate Sports Force" program for air in Europe featuring
Manchester United, for example).
The synergies between the three areas are strong. ULSP plans to
exploit them. It will marshal its publishing, Internet, & TV & film
efforts to keep current fans constantly interested & reach out for
Merchandising: As ULSP's animated productions & comic books achieve
a critical mass of audience recognition, it will introduce toys,
clothing, video games, & other products based on its properties.
ULSP is pursuing opportunities with several major toy manufacturers
to produce a packaged product featuring an Ultimate Sports comic
book & an appropriate action figure.
Publishing Trends: Comic book publishers continue to concentrate
their efforts on their own superhero properties. No publisher currently
produces material similar to ULSP. It expects to enjoy first-to-market
advantage with its fresh approach to publishing, & to keep that
advantage with exclusive licenses.
Internet Trends: (1) The Internet is not just for computer geeks;
a 2/2/99 article on CNN Interactive observed: "On Jan. 14, the Pew
Research Center for the People & the Press published the results
of its latest survey about Internet users. The center's conclusion
is that the Internet is going `ordinary';" (2) As the Internet audience
expands, its demographics become more main-stream. The same CNN
article continues, "The survey showed that about half of current
Internet users started in the past year, & these new users are no
longer as different from the general population as they once were;"
& (3) Users are buying books on the Internet, & are turning to the
Internet to buy toys as well.
Film & Television Trends: Direct-to-video is proving itself as
a viable "reverse launch" opportunity.
Merchandising Trends: (1) Sports action figures are coming into
their own in the toy market. Their performance in a market usually
reserved for superhero- & action-related items featured in feature
films & animated series is remarkable, & indicative of changing
consumer tastes. ULSP plans to package the best of both worlds &
offer action figures that appeal to sports fans & action fans; &
(2) Limited-edition action figures perform well as collectibles.
Even if native only to the collectibles market, limited-edition
action figures have shown incredible performance. ULSP will leverage
the dual appeal of its characters to reach a wider market.
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