Limits To Rights

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


I’ve written a lot about cord-cutting and the sports fan on this site. I see it as an inevitability that at some point, probably during the re-upping of rights for the major sports leagues, that we will a significant change in how fans can access the games they want to see. The Wall Street Journal article on the YES Network’s negotiations with Comcast only magnify this point.

This past week Joe Flint and Matthew Futterman put together an outstanding article on the cost of sports rights with the regional sports networks. It’s a microcosm of the overall issue. What it really comes down to is different parts of major corporations trying to extract a whole bunch of money from one another.

Sports Rights RSNThis is a very high profile case because it involves the preeminent brand name in all of sports, the New York Yankees. Right now, if you live in the Yankees media footprint and have Comcast, you are not getting Yankees games next week.

Rut Roh.

The writers take it even further by point to this as a case of ‘how much further can this go?’ The consensus seems to be that people are not willing to pay anymore of their cable or satellite bundles even if it means missing the games they want to see. With costs rising and incomes staying flat, people have officially cut back.

This is a very interesting story with the public reaction right around the corner. Flint and Futterman did a great job and this is an article worth reading.

Cost Of Sports TV Raises Stakes in Yankees – Comcast Fight

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Divide and Conquer

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


One high quality, unscripted show about an NFL franchise wasn’t enough so now we’ll have two.

This week the NFL announced that the Los Angeles Rams will be featured on the 2016 edition of HBO’s “Hard Knocks”. Meanwhile the NFL also announced a new original series on Amazon.com called “All or Nothing”. This show will feature the Arizona Cardinals and run the length of the season.
Gurley RAMS vs CardsBoth teams are logical choices and offer up a bunch of storylines for the producers to use. It is interesting that the NFL is going with an over-the-top (OTT) provider like Amazon because it begs the question, is Amazon the leading candidate to stream live NFL games? It was only a few weeks ago that SI reported that Facebook was in the fray for live streaming the Thursday Night games this fall.

Regardless if this is an indicator of who will stream live NFL games this season, this new show with Amazon only leads credence to the fact that OTT outlets are becoming more and more important. The NFL knows that OTT is going to be an important space for them and they better get some original content there sooner rather than later.

Launching a 20 plus week documentary is not an endeavor to be taken on lightly but the NFL is showing some caution in doing so. Let’s face it, it’s the Cardinals and they are not the Denver Broncos, Pittsburgh Steelers or New England Patriots. It’s a quality football team with good storylines but not one of the marquee NFL franchises. This shows that the league is going into this with some caution and if some things don’t come off and views aren’t great, it is only the Cardinals after all.

You want more NFL? Well you got it.

 

The Local Darkside of Cord-Cutting

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


A few months ago I wrote about how cord-cutting has become a real option for sports fan with the introduction of Sling.tv and other OTT services. A few months into the switch I have uncovered one downfall of cord-cutting, not being able to watch local teams.

If you live in a region where there is no local sports team foot print (and good luck finding one) then you should be fine. If you live in Colorado Springs and cut the cord then also say goodbye to Avalanche, Nuggets, Rapids and Rockies games while sitting in the comfort of your own home.

Penguins Map
Pittsburgh Penguins Regional Sports Network Map. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The current setup stipulates that if you live in a teams broadcast footprint then you have to watch those teams over their regional sports network (RSN). This is done for good reason too. The RSN’s have paid an absurd amount of money for the rights to these games. For example, the Dodgers received $8.35 billion from Time Warner for their deal and the Padres got $50 million a year from Fox and they haven’t been close to the playoffs since 1999. The last thing these big cable folks would want is to have MLB.tv or NHL.tv jump in and offer  much lower prices for the cord-cutters.

The downside of course is that the local fan who is not seeing their wage increase in this economy (which is a pretty common event) is left out on the cold. The options are to go to the game (not economically practical), spend the money for cable or satellite or go old school, listen to it on the radio.

Is there a viable alternative? Not right now. The facts are this, the costs of sports rights have gone up while incomes have gone sideways. Until RSN’s see a bigger decline in viewership which forces them to seek other profit generators like live streaming then cord-cutters are out of luck. It’s also good to remember that the digital rights of these games are probably still held by the league and the vast majority of these deals are locked up for a large period of time.

Needless to say, cord-cutters…break out the radio. An actual one too because the online radio rights are held by the leagues.

Dollars And Madness

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


As you fill out your bracket for that office pool you fully intend to win, it’s also a good time to stop and examine the money behind the NCAA Tournament. FRONTLINE looked into this several years ago in an episode called ‘Money and March Madness’.

Money and March MadnessThe revenue generated from the TV rights and the tickets and concession accounts for 90% of the NCAA budget. So this is truly the most important thing for the NCAA. It is the preverbal cash cow.

Andrew Zimbalist appeared on the Nightly Business Report to talk the numbers. Zimbalist is an economist at Smith College and has written several books on finance and sports. Zimbalist points out that the NCAA will bring in about $900 million and distribute about $200 million back to the schools that are in the tournament. While that is an absurd amount a money, the majority goes back to the 1100 schools that make up the NCAA and the 85 other championships that the NCAA helps put on. (The College Football Playoff is not run by the NCAA.)

Go to the 20:27 mark. 

Some would argue that this opening weekend of the tournament is the best sports weekend of the year. So while you are pretending to work and really secretly streaming the games on your computer or desperately trying to figure out what channel TRU TV is on, just remember the enormous amount of money that is brought in by the tournament.

 

 

That Didn’t Work

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


In case you weren’t watching (thank God I wasn’t) the NCAA Selection Show on CBS was successful in pissing off about every college basketball fan in the country.

Barkley with EJAwful Announcing did a great recap of why it was so horrible. In short, Charles Barkley can’t work a touch screen and the bracket was leaked on twitter before CBS could reveal it all. This lead to the lowest ratings in 20 years for the selection show.

SI’s Richard Dietsch tweeted,

We can only hope that’s true because social media was the equivalent of a forrest fire during the show. Probably a good idea to cut it back to an hour and never again let Charles Barkley near technology.

What to Watch: Fri. 3/11 – Sun. 3/13

All times are Pacific.

Friday March 11th

Baylor vs Kansas – 4pm ESPN2: The Big 12 tournament kicks into high gear.

Philadelphia Flyers at Tampa Bay Lightning – 4:30pm NHL.TV: Flyers are agonizingly close to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference while the Lightning are battling it out for one of the top seeds.

Miami Heat at Chicago Bulls – 5pm NBA.TV: The Heat lead the Southeastern division while the Bulls have fallen off a bit but are still a dangerous group.

DUCKS V BLUESAnaheim Ducks at St Louis Blues – 5pm NHL.TV: The Ducks have been come down to Earth after winning something like 10 in a row. Both are playoff bound. Expect some excellent hockey in this one.


Chicago Blackhawks at Dallas Stars – 5:30pm NHLN:
These two are tied for the top spot in the Western Conference and on top of the Central. Both are two of the top teams in the entire league.

Oklahoma vs West Virginia – 6pm ESPN2: OU may have the Big 12 player of the year (Buddy Hield) and swept the season series but pay no mind to that. Bob Huggins will have his team ready to play and they are still a top 10 team mind you.

Arizona vs Oregon – 6pm PAC12: Oregon is trying to lock up a number one seed in the NCAA Tournament but Arizona needs a win to improve their seeding too.

Portland Trailblazers at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm NBA League Pass: You want to watch this one just to see what Steph Curry and Damian Lillard are going to do to one up each other.

 

Saturday March 12th

NY Islanders at Boston Bruins – 10am NHL.TV: A little morning hockey with two playoff bound teams.

New England Revolution vs DC United – Noon MLS.TV: These two were at the top of the Eastern Conference standings last season. Good early season matchup.

Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors – 4pm NBA League Pass: Talk about tough back-to-back road games for the Heat. First Chicago and then up to the Great White North. That’s just mean.

Sporting KC vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 5:30pm MLS.TV: SKC looks to lay out the unwelcome mat for the Caps. Both should be a force in the Western Conference again.

Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs – 5:30pm ABC: Probably the only two teams who have a legit chance of knocking off the Warriors when it comes playoff time. Durant, Duncan, Westbrook, Parker and of course the media mogul Poppovich.

BLUES V STARS FIGHTSt Louis Blues at Dallas Stars – 6pm NHLN: Both are looking to unseat the Blackhawks in the Central and claim the top spot. They should both be pretty sick and tired of each other by this point of the season. Sprinkle in the back side of back-to-back games and it could get nasty out there.

Washington Capitals at San Jose Sharks – 7:30pm NHL.TV: The Caps look to close out the brutal west coast road trip with a win in the shark tank.

 

Sunday March 13th

LUNDQVISTPittsburgh Penguins at NY Rangers – 9:30am NBC: Sidney Crosby and the Pens look to give themselves some breathing room when it comes to the playoff race. The Rangers are strong and will be strong once Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash return.

Cleveland Cavaliers at LA Clippers – 12:30pm ABC: Enough talent on display to make you stop you Sunday yard work and camp out in front of the TV.

NYCFC vs Toronto FC – 2pm ESPN2: Lot of star power on display and hopefully that means goals a plenty.

NCAA Selection Show – 2:30pm CBS: Who is in and who is out. Let the second phase of March Madness begin!

And….They’re That Good.

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


People can say what they want but Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors are making the NBA a whole lot of fun again.

How? Because he puts up shots like this and fully expects to make them.

How is this possible? Shots like this are are for a game of HORSE for the rest of us. For Curry they are an everyday occurrence.

But how good are the Warriors…Really? Well they set an NBA record with 45 straight home victories.

What? Excuse me?

Yes, 45 straight.

If that wasn’t enough let’s not forget that Curry’s Splash Brother (Klay Thompson) once scored an NBA record 37 points….in a quarter!

Yes, Curry, Thompson and the Warriors are that good and that much fun to watch.

 

The End of a Football Career

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Say what you want. Call him this or call him that but what you can call him is one of the best quarterbacks to play the game of football. He is a first ballot hall of famer and no one prepared harder for games than he did.

Hhe set the standard on and off the field for what an NFL player should be like.

The saddest part about Peyton’s retirement is that we will get less funny TV ads. All the more reason to get NFL Redzone.

The Sunday: Quiet Time and Going Overboard

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Quiet Time

Conor McGregor had to eat his humble pie. He was choked out by the fast talking Nate Diaz at UFC 196. His voice is now lower, bravado toned down and lessons learned.

 

First Base

Michigan Head Coach Jim Harbaugh has been just about everywhere….even first base.

It will almost be a disappointment when the off-season is over and he actually has to coach football and not climb trees, hang out at the State of the Union or just Netflix and Chill.

 

Angry Lundqvist

Henrik Lundqvist is one of, if not the best goalie in the NHL. And just like you and I, he can have a bad day and want to flip something over that is near him. For Lundqvist that was a net.

 

Capsized

Team Oracle capsized their catamaran. There is really nothing more to be said. It’s a boat flipping over.

 

Blades of a Remake

Yep. This actually happened. 

 

Steph Curry Moment of the Week

Brought to you this week by Damian Lillard.

What To Watch: Fri. 3/4 – Sun. 3/6

All times are Pacific.

Friday March 4th

NY Rangers at Washington Capitals – 4pm NHLN: One of the best scoring teams in the league (Caps) go against one of the best defensive teams in the league (Rangers).

LillardPortland Trail Blazers at Toronto Raptors – 4:30pm NBA League Pass: Portland is coming on strong led by Damian Lillard but Toronto on a Friday night is very tough place to play.

 

Saturday March 5th

Tottenham vs Arsenal – 4:45am NBCSN: Great rivalry and it means a lot to who plays European soccer next year.

Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund – 9am FX: Last minute addition by FOX. Now people can watch probably the best matchup of the Bundesliga this season. Oh, Bayern has stumbled as of late too.

Nashville Predators at Colorado Avalanche – 12pm NHL.TV: These two are in a battle for the two wild card slots in the Western Conference.

Anaheim Ducks at LA Kings – 1pm NHL.TV: These two are neck and neck in the Pacific division…oh and they hate each other.

Iowa State at Kansas – 1pm ESPN: Kansas already has the Big 12 sown up but this one is all about seeding in the NCAA Tournament.

UNC at Duke – 3pm ESPN: Heck the last one they played came down to the last shot. This one should too.

Washington Capitals at Boston Bruins – 4pm NHLN: These two could meet in the first round of the playoffs as it stands right now.

Louisville at Virginia – 5:30pm ESPN: The Cards aren’t going to the NCAA Tournament due to a self imposed suspension so they are looking to trip up UVA on their way to a high seed.

UFC 196 – 7pm PPV: Conor McGregor vs Nate Diaz and Holly Holm vs Miesha Tate. Good fights made even better by the fact none of these people really like each other.

 

Atlanta Hawks at LA Clippers – 7:30pm NBA League Pass: Forget for a second that both these teams are very, very good and think about Steve Ballmer dunking.

 

Sunday March 6th

Kobalt 400 – 12:30pm FOX: NASCAR heads to Las Vegas which is always a fun race to watch.

Timbers MLS CupPortland Timbers vs Columbus Crew -1:30pm ESPN: First game of the year and it is a rematch of 2015 MLS Cup. You can only imagine how much the Crew want to return the favor to the Timbers. Expect them to come out hard and fast and try to snag an early goal.

Maryland at Indiana – 1:30pm CBS: Indiana has a share of the Big Ten title and look to wrap up the whole enchilada.

NY Islanders at NY Rangers – 2pm NHL.TV: These two are within striking distance of each other and a win here could have dramatic consequences come playoff time.

Sporting KC vs Seattle Sounders – 4pm FS1:  Two of the better teams in MLS over the last few years and both have gone through some serious player overhauls. We’ll see what happens.

LA Galaxy vs DC United – 7pm UNIMAS: The Galaxy have some big superstars like Keene, Gerrard and Cole. But DC United is has some outstanding talent as well.

St Louis Blues at Minnesota Wild – 5pm NBCSN: The Wild are fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot and the Blues have struggled a little lately. They need to turn it around to keep their spot.