Yeah, It’s Not Big In America

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The 2014 World Cup is in full swing. Close games, lots of goals and a USA victory highlighted the first six days of games. What the media outside of the soccer contingent is still talking about is how soccer just hasn’t caught on in America. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

USA vs Ghana Viewing Party in Chicago

The USA vs Ghana game on Monday afternoon (or early evening for those of you on the East Coast) had more than 11 million viewers on ESPN and almost a half million a minute on the Watch ESPN app. The opening match of the World Cup between Brazil and Croatia did over nine million TV viewers between Univision and ESPN.

And that was a random Thursday afternoon.

CBS This Morning ran a story on Tuesday about kids in poor neighborhoods in Rio playing soccer. Gayle King said at the end of the piece, ‘I’m amazed how big this game is except in this country.’ (fast forward to the 2:45 mark to hear it for yourself)

Apparently she has never seen or been to an MLS match in Seattle, Portland, Vancouver or Kansas City much less a US Men’s National Team game.

Cause soccer is not big in America.

Maybe she wasn’t aware of the 5,000 or so people in Grant Park in Chicago watching the match on the big screen. One of many massive viewing parties across the country.

Yeah, nobody in the US watches soccer. It’s not a big deal here.

US Media, what the hell else do you need?

No other country has as many popular professional sports as the US does. From the NBA to MLB to the NHL and of course the NFL and College Football. Let us not forget March Madness and the Masters. England is not packed with this level of sport. Neither is Brazil, Japan, Germany, Russia, or China.

Let’s have a little reality check here for the US news media. Maybe they are not as smart as they think.

 

 

 

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There’s a Subscription For That

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Every game of the NBA Finals will be televised on ABC which is available without a cable or satellite subscription. Five of the seven games of the Stanley Cup Final will be broadcast on NBC which is also available without a cable or satellite subscription. Does it matter anymore if a game is televised on broadcast or cable/satellite? Yes and not for the reasons you think.

The Finals

Even with the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup Final available on over-the-air television channels, you still need either an internet provider subscription or a cable/satellite subscription in order to watch online. Yes. Even though the games are available over-the-air for FREE, you have to pay somebody to watch on your laptop or tablet.

This is not new. NBC does this during the Olympics and while the number of people who don’t pay for either a cable/satellite or internet subscription is small it is still a point of concern.

Why should you have to have a subscription if the game is on FREE TV? That’s almost like saying, ‘well you have to have a monitor in order to watch the game so you have to type in the serial number on the TV before you can watch.’

Just because you have a cable/satellite and/or an internet subscription doesn’t even guarantee you the ability to watch a game online. It all depends on the provider and the network. So if DirecTV doesn’t have an online agreement with ESPN then good luck watching something on the much promoted Watch ESPN app.

If you go back a decade ago when streaming live sports was just getting up and running, you could watch just about anything without so much as a log-in. ESPN Gameplan was free if you were watching online but almost $100 to watch on television.

Last season though, it got to the point that if a college football game is being shown on any of ESPN networks you cannot watch it online at all.

What about the fans? What about the promise of watching anything you want, anywhere you want on any device? You almost can. Just make sure you have a cable or satellite subscription.

 

 

 

Failing Eventualy Does Matter

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Dan Bylsma was let go yesterday by the Pittsburgh Penguins. It marks the end of a tough six months behind the bench for the Penguins and for Team USA in the Winter Olympics.

Bylsma is the winningest coach in Penguins history (252-117-32) and lead them to a Stanley Cup in 2009 (albeit he came on in February of that year.) But blowing a 3-1 series lead to the New York Rangers may have sealed his fate.

Dan Bylsma

The fact is that Bylsma couldn’t get the Penguins back to the Stanley Cup Final even with players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin on the ice. While these players have had injuries over the years (Crosby missed most of the 2010-2012 seasons with concussion type symptoms) the Penguins were still a force to be reckoned with and were always an odds on favorite to win the Cup.

Two other things didn’t help Bylsma the first six months of this year. First was the non-medaling performance by Team USA in the Winter Olympics and then a 5-1 shellacking at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks on national TV during the Stadium Series.

Bylsma probably won’t be out of work for very long since there are three teams besides Pittsburgh looking for head coaches right now.

While the Penguins organization felt that a change needed to be made the move also points out again that sports is a ‘what have you done for me lately’ business. Yes the expectations are high in Pittsburgh and they should be. Look at the team they have now and the history they have. So remember that while you may hear buzzwords like ‘fail fast’ going around right now, you can only fail for so long before you have to pay the piper.

 

Not The TV Ratings You’re Looking For

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Lord Stanley

On Wednesday night the New York Rangers will square off against the Los Angeles Kings in the 121st edition of the Stanley Cup Finals. While on paper this may appear to be a great matchup for the NHL with the teams from the top two TV markets squaring off but it could have been better if neither team was in it.

The Kings defeated the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in a thrilling game 7 overtime game on Sunday night. It would have been better for the NHL if the Blackhawks won because they are a bigger TV market when it comes to hockey. In fact Chicago out did the LA as far as viewers are concerned during game 7 by a wide margin.

The Rangers are the Rangers. New York has a tendency to rally around their teams, and not just in New York City. The Buffalo Sabers actually came in second as far as local TV ratings go in the NHL this seasons despite finishing dead last in the league.

The Rangers will probably hold their own but that doesn’t mean that the countries number one TV market always turns out in droves for a New York area team.

Take 2012 when the Kings won their first Stanley Cup at the expense of the New Jersey Devils (who play in Newark, NJ which is in the New York City TV market.) The highest rated game for that series was the decisive game 6. That game did a 3.1 rating. That only would have been the fifth highest rated game in the 2013 Final when Chicago defeated the Boston Bruins in six games.

If the NHL could pick the two teams in the Stanley Cup Final based on TV ratings in the US, it would be a matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Chicago Blackhawks. Both crush their local TV numbers and have players and brands that transcend the sport.

The fact is the NHL is happy with a Stanley Cup Final featuring teams from the two biggest TV markets in the US. Next time, they should look at their numbers and realize, like the NFL has, that LA isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and it’s better to have a matchup between Original Six teams.