Diary of a Cord Cutter: March Madness Opens The Doors For OTT

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 3.27.2017


March Madness Live was for several years the pinnacle of giving customers what they want. Then they powers that be got greedy. Those powers being CBS and TBS Sports who will spend a combined $19.6 billion to broadcast the NCAA Tournament through 2032decided that a good user experience was just wrong. So they looked backward through the looking glass and forced people to sign in to their cable or satellite provider to watch games online. It wasn’t always like this but the move is a huge opportunity for OTT providers.

When March Madness was first streamed online, for free and without a cable or satellite subscription, it blew the doors off all of the predictions. People asked for it for years and when they finally got it, they responded in spades.

Over the last few years, i.e. since signing this massive deal, CBS and TBS Sports now allow you 3 hours of live streaming until you are forced to sign in with your cable or satellite subscription which of course more and more people do not have. You are allowed to watch the game that is on CBS broadcast channel (which they did stream for free without having to sign in unlike some other NBC does with Sunday Night Football) if you are a cord cutter but you miss out on the games on TBS, TNT and TrueTV.

This is music to the ears of OTT providers like Sling TV, PlaystationVUE and DirecTV Now. All of which offer TBS, TNT and TrueTV with prices ranging from  $25 to $35. A cord cutter could literally sign up for a month, spend $25 and watch all of the games without every having to go to the March Madness streaming website or app. Bonus, they can watch these channels anywhere they want too.

PlaystationVUE was advertising heavily on the March Madness streaming site. They even sponsored the ‘Boss Button’. So while they paid for advertising, they probably got a lot more people to sign up to their service taking people away from March Madness Live.

While these may not sound cheap options they are certainly cheaper than the typical cable and satellite subscription that CBS and TBS Sports are pushing you to.

This was an event cornered by March Madness Live and the logic must have been that since CBS and TBS Sports spent so much on the broadcasting rights that they felt compelled to push people back to a place where their margins are better. This in the end is short sighted thinking and shows that CBS and TBS Sports are not concerned about the end user in the slightest.

And it’s not like CBS and TBS Sports are not making their money on March Madness Live. They have plastered the sites with enough ad’s to make a Nascar fan dizzy and force you to watch a commercial every time you switched games. March Madness Live went from one of the best user experiences to one of the worst in matter of a few years.

It doesn’t matter now if March Madness Live changes its ways and reverts back to when all of the games where free. They have already lost and the OTT providers are coming on hard and welcoming users with open arms.  It is sad to see such a good thing shoot itself in the front due to backwards thinking but on the other hand, there are better options out there.

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Bowl Mania Guide

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.16.2016

With the Holiday’s comes college football bowl season. Yes, there are too many bowl games (42 in all) and too many undeserving teams (19 teams are .500 or worse ). Yet we will still watch a vast majority of them if no other reason than to escape arguments about this year’s Presidential election. So here are the best bets when it comes to which games to watch.

*All times are Pacific

December 17th

Donnel PumphreyLas Vegas Bowl | Houston vs San Diego State | 12:30pM ABC: Yes Houston lost their head coach to Texas but the OC and DC are still there and the OC, Major Applewhite, is the new head coach and they still have Greg Ward at QB. The Aztecs count with senior running back Donnel Pumphrey who with a solid rushing game could become the nation’s #2 all-time leading rusher.

Camellia Bowl | Appalachian State vs Toledo | 2:30pm ESPN:  Seriously, this is a good game. App State is better than their 9-3 record would indicate and so is Toledo. App State won their first ever bowl game a year ago on a last second field goal after being down 24-7 at halftime.

December 20th

Boca Raton Bowl | Memphis vs Western Kentucky | 4pm ESPN:  Offense, offense and more offense. Western Kentucky averages 517 yards per game while Memphis averages 461. Did we mention offense?

December 21st

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl | BYU vs Wyoming | 6pm ESPN: This is a rivalry game renewed. These two haven’t played each other since 2010 when BYU left the Mountain West Conference and BYU leads the all-time series 44-30-3. Be ready for old school football here.

December 27th

National Funding Holiday Bowl | Minnesota vs Washington State | 4pm ESPN:  Two teams that kind of tripped up towards the end of the season but two solid teams none the less. Wazzu’s Luke Falk is something to see. He was 4th in the country with 4204 passing yards this season. Of course this is only a game if  Minnesota players actually play. 

December 28th

Russell Athletic Bowl | West Virginia vs Miami | 2:30pm ESPN: These two can light up the scoreboard if things go right. West Virginia probably deserves a better bowl game and Miami has junior QB Brad Kaaya and is playing closer to home than the Mountaineers are.

December 29th

Valero Alamo Bowl | Oklahoma State vs Colorado | 6pm ESPN: This might be the best game of bowl season not to mention the fact that this bowl game always seems to be high scoring shootout every year.

 

December 30th

dobbsFranklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl | Nebraska vs Tennessee | 12:30pm ESPN: These two couldn’t stop a nose bleed in their last game of the season. They do have multifaceted QB’s who can hurt you with their arm or their legs. Josh Dobbs for Tennessee and Tommy Armstrong JR for Nebraska. One player to watch is Tennessee’s Derek Barnett. He’ll be a top 5 NFL draft pick if he decides to forgo his senior season.

Capital One Orange Bowl | Michigan vs Florida State | 5pm ESPN: Two teams with loads of talent on both sides of the football. This game will be all about the offensive and defensive lines.

December 31st

College Football Playoff Semifinal | Washington vs Alabama | Noon ESPN:  Look, this playoff is Alabama’s to lose but UW head coach Chris Pederson is known for having a trick or two up his sleeve.

College Football Playoff Semifinal | Ohio State vs Clemson | 4pm ESPN:  All about the QB’s in this one. Ohio State has been here before and it’s hard to bet against Urban Meyer. Then again Clemson was here a year ago and dominated.

January 2nd

Rose Bowl | USC vs Penn State | 2pm ESPN: Two head coaches who were on the hot seat over the last 12 months have their teams in one of the biggest bowl games of all. Not bad. Let’s just hope it’s better than last years blowout of Iowa delivered at the hands of Christian McCaffery and Stanford.

The Best

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Pat Summitt has died at the age of 64. The trailblazing coach roamed the sidelines at Tennessee for 38 years, won eight national championships and 1,098 games. She has gone down as not only one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time but as one of the greatest coaches in all of sports.

“The word icon and the word legend is probably used too much in today’s sports society, but it is certainly appropriate when describing Pat Summitt,”

– Peyton Manning

Summitt was an innovator. Her teams practiced against men, played in your face defense and were famous for playing anybody, anywhere at anytime. She was once offered the Tennessee men’s basketball job where she replied, “Why is that considered a step up?” Years later while watching a men’s practice, she got so fired up at what she was seeing that she took over practice from then men’s coach Bruce Pearl.

She was renowned for her toughness. It was on full display when she went on a recruiting trip to Allentown, PA to convince future star Michelle Marciniak to come to Knoxville. Her water broke as she walked in the door and refused to let the pilots land anywhere but Tennessee where she gave birth to her only child Tyler. Yes, she epitomized ‘Tennessee Tough.’

That toughness was reflected in her team. Year in and year out, the Lady Vols were always among the country’s elite making 18 trips to the Women’s Final Four. They practiced hard, played hard and studied harder. I can remember a friend telling me how blown away he was by the fact that three members of the Lady Vols were in the front row of his 9am class the day after playing a late night game in Ames, IA during the NCAA Tournament.

While there are many great coaches in basketball, Pat Summitt is among the top. She is in the same class as Mike Krzyzewski, Bobby Knight, Phil Jackson and John Wooden. Heck, you have to put her in the same class as Bill Belichick, Bill Walsh, Knute Rockne, Casey Stengel and Joe Torre. She was one of the greats and will be sorely missed not just in Knoxville but around the world.

Tribute to Pat Summitt

More Steps Forward

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


The Big Sky Conference (that’s FBS for those of you playing at home) recently announced that Andrea Williams will become it’s new commissioner. She will be the 10th female commissioner at the Division 1 level and while that may seem like a lot it isn’t but it’s a start.

As “open minded” as college’s like to claim they are, they are some of the oldest institutions in America and some old habits die hard. While Williams has never set foot in Ogden, Greeley, Bozeman or Grand Forks she is incredibly qualified for the role of commissioner. She served as associate commissioner for the Big Ten conference for the last decade so her hiring makes sense on a lot of levels but it does beg the question, why are their not more female commissioners or athletic directors across the country?

MacLeodIt was only last year where a female was given the reins of a non-power five school (Judy MacLeod at Conference USA) and there are zero in charge of a power five conference. MacLeod is the only female commissioner at a conference where football brings in major dollars (although the Big Sky is nothing to shake a stick at). It took until 2015 for this to happen? Really?

The major football conferences (SEC, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, PAC-12) may never have a female commissioner. In fact it would be a major coup for them to have an African-American as a commissioner. We’re not talking associate or assistant commissioners here, we’re talking about the big cheese who is in charge of the whole shebang.

Why?

These are some old school organizations and football is king. It is, let’s face it, a good ole boys club. With all due respect, this may be fine most of the time but it can also be a hinderance and lead to a lack of perspective.

Look at the overall picture of current issues facing athletic conferences. There is the issue of concussions in football which is the sport that brings in most of the revenue and paying of players. Wouldn’t a different perspective on these issues lead to solutions that we could all agree on?

Williams is a great choice for the role of commissioner of the underrated Big Sky Conference. She represents another step in getting more diverse leadership at the top of collegiate conferences.

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.

 

 

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!

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.

The Sunday: Shots, Saves & Scene

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


One And Done

Greg Hardy’s time with the Dallas Cowboys is at an end. He didn’t play a full season due to his suspension, fought with teammates on the sidelines and generally lost the backing of everyone in the organization.

Unknown at this time if another NFL team will take a chance on a player who threw his girlfriend onto a couch full of guns and threatened to kill her. He is really a stark contrast from another Briarcrest teammate, Michael Oher.

 

And The Save

How do you get noticed when you are minor league hockey players traveling on buses from some low population center to another? You have your name be Bud Halloway and you layout to stop an empty net goal.

 

Steph Curry Moment Of The Week

How about a game winner from 35 feet-ish away after he went to the locker room earlier in the game to get his ankle fixed up after he had it stepped on. The man continues to impress…no, he continues to amaze.

 

For The Win….

Well he wasn’t Steph Curry but he did win $18k by making this half court shot on College GameDay. Beers are on this guy!

 

And Scene

Former Mississippi State defensive lineman Chris Jones probably had better days. Nothing like ripping your skin tight shorts and have your junk fall out during your job interview.

 

Blue Villain

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Mike Krzyzewski and Duke are the standard in college basketball. Year after year they are competing for national championships, putting players into the NBA and Coach K is bringing home Olympic Gold Medals every couple of years. So it comes as a shock that sophomore guard Grayson Allen wasn’t suspended by the team or the conference after tripping an opposing player.

From the video, it seems pretty evident that Allen purposefully tripped Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes. While Duke handled the matter internally and the conference publicly “reprimanded” Allen, it all seems to fall short.

This wasn’t Allen’s first transgression this year either as the Washington Post’s Adam Kilgore points out. Allen is now embolden to be the latest in a long line of hated Duke players.

Now compare Allen’s punishment to that of Oregon State’s Jarmal Reid. Reid tripped a ref earlier this year and was suspended four games by the university and it could have been longer.

There needs to be consistency. Yes these are separate situations, conferences, etc but that shouldn’t matter. The NCAA should step in and suspend Allen for at least a game. Having two similar incidents with different consequences doesn’t make any sense.

All that being said, what’s done is done and the case is closed. So just mark Allen up as the latest Duke Villain.

What To Watch: Fri. 2/26 – Sun. 2/28

All times are Pacific.

Friday February 26th

Minnesota Wild at Washington Capitals – 4pm NHL.TV: The Caps are the top team in the NHL and the Wild are fighting for a playoff spot. And what is a Friday night without Ovi?

Charlotte Hornets at Indiana Pacers – 4pm NBA League Pass: This one will go a long way in determining if and where the Hornets are in the playoff picture.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors – 4:30pm NBA League Pass: LeBron and company head north to take on DeMar DeRozan and the Raptors.

 

Saturday February 27th

Oklahoma at Texas – 11am CBS: When isn’t an OU vs Texas game fun?

Louisville at Miami – 11am ESPN3: Somehow a major ACC and top 15 match up made it’s way to ESPN3. Strange.

Arizona at Utah – 11am ESPN: The Wildcats are coming off a tough loss in Colorado and now have to face the Utes. Tall order.

St. Louis Blues at Nashville Predators – Noon NHL.TV: Divisional battle between two teams looking to improve their playoff position.

NY Rangers at Dallas Stars – 1pm NHLN: Inter-conference battle that features one team that is second in the NHL in goals per game (Dallas) and one that is 12th in goals against (NY).

Maryland at Purdue – 1pm ESPN: Big matchup in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers loss by 11 in Maryland a few weeks ago but things should be different and Mackey Arena will be rocking.

UFC Fight Night – 1pm UFC Fight Pass: Anderson Silva vs Michael Bisping live from London. Too bad this fight didn’t happen three or four years ago.

UNC at Virginia – 3:30pm ESPN: The Tar Heels head north to Charlottesville to take on UVA in a top 10 matchup and massive NCAA Tournament implications.

Detroit Red Wings at Colorado Avalanche – 5pm NBC: It’s not the most ideal conditions for an outdoor game, in fact it should be a balmy 60 degrees when the puck drops. Probably not what the NHL was hoping for when they scheduled this one.

DurantGolden State Warriors at Oklahoma City Thunder – 5:30 ABC: The Splash Brothers invade the house that Durant and Westbrook built. Rumors are swirling that Durant will join the Warriors in the off season but it’s a long time between now and then. This is going to be a stellar game.

 

Sunday February 28th

Manchester United vs Arsenal – 6am NBCSN: So Man U isn’t the team they once were…this is still a helluva soccer game.

Washington Capitals at Chicago Blackhawks – 9:30am: Dude….what an awesome game for a Sunday…or any day for that matter.

Iowa at Ohio State – 1pm CBS: Come for the basketball and stay to see why Iowa is going to make a lot of noise in the tournament.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Boston Bruins – 3pm NBCSN: These two are neck and neck in the Atlantic division.

Paul George DunkPortland Trailblazers at Indiana Pacers – 3pm NBA League Pass: Portland is a long way from home but a Damian Lillard vs Paul George matchup is too good to pass up.

 

 

LA Kings at Anaheim Ducks – 6pm NBCSN: The Ducks have really turned it around and are only two points back of the Kings for the top spot in the Pacific.