The Force Awakens ABC and ESPN; Star Wars By the Numbers

By Brian Flood 

If you’ve watched anything on ABC or ESPN in the past few weeks, you’ve been inundated with cross promotion for Disney’s upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Why? Corporate synergy, of course.

Since the premiere of the last trailer during halftime of ESPN’s Monday Night Football on October 19, The Force Awakens has been mentioned 449 times on ABC, 111 times on ESPN and 93 times on ESPN2. Disney, the parent company of ABC and ESPN, produced Star Wars through its LucasFilm division which it acquired in 2012.

ABC’s Good Morning America has gone all out in promoting the film. Director J.J. Abrams and cast members Harrison Ford, John Boyega, Daisy Ridley and Carrie Fisher have appeared as guests over the last few weeks. Lupita Nyong’o is scheduled to appear this morning. Fisher, who played Princess Leia in the first films in the late 1970s, returns as Gen. Leia. In addition to the hilarious interview with Amy Robach (below) Fisher has also appeared on ABC’s Live! with Kelly and Michael.


The majority of the cast has also appeared on ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live to promote the film, with Abrams judging a Star Wars-themed game show segment.

ESPN’s SportsCenter is airing a 30 minute special examining the athleticism behind the training that went into the film’s lightsaber duels. Seriously.

Star Wars: Evolution of the Lightsaber Duel, hosted by Luke Skywalker (AKA Mark Hamill) air Tuesday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. ET. It includes interviews from the 2015 Kendo World Championships in Japan to explain the genesis of kendo and how it applies to Star Wars. “Lightsaber duels from the Star Wars films are some of cinema’s most recognized battles and an iconic part of the most popular movie franchise of all time,” ESPN vp Craig Lazarus said.

Fusion, a joint venture between ABC and Univision, didn’t miss a chance to partake in the corporate synergy, airing Star Wars: A New Gaming Era last month.

“Whether you’ve been playing games for decades, or you’re just jumping into them today, it’s never been a better time to be a fan of Star Wars video games than right now,” said Fusion’s chief programming officer Wade Beckett.

Star Wars will undoubtedly have the biggest opening of the year–if not ever. In the first month of pre-sale, ending Nov. 19, more than $50 million in tickets was sold. Star Wars: The Force Awakens hits theaters a week from today.