Twitter Jumps Into Live Streaming Sports Fray

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Twitter, very smartly, did a dry run Thursday night of it’s live streaming platform. They streamed the Weber State at Utah State football game. It was a small, off the radar kind of game that gave twitter a chance to do a live test of their platform before the real test comes next week when they do the first of their 10 NFL games. From a user perspective, the test was a success but hard to find.

CampusTwitterWeber State at Utah State started at 6pm MST. It was streamed on CampusInsiders.com and on the Mountain West Conference website as well as twitter. The twitter feeds of both CampusInsiders and the Mountain West Conference promoted the event continuously during the stream in case you were not aware. Overall the stream was clear and stable over an LTE network in a crowded location.

There were some drawbacks of course. The first being that if you didn’t know the game was on it was hard to find, at least on the app on a phone. If you jumped out of the app and went to say Facebook and then wanted to come back to the game, it was even harder to find. Pretty sure twitter has a bigger marketing plan and in app advertising for the NFL games once they start.

Photo Sep 01, 6 19 57 PMThe other drawback was the latency. While watching another game live on ESPN, you would see the score of the Utah State game on the lower third crawl and then not see the scoring play on the twitter live stream for a good three to five minutes. There isn’t much twitter can do about that. There are too many variables involved from the transcode speed to the speed of the network you are on so while it sucks for the user, it isn’t a hurdle easily overcome.

Overall twitter had a successful test run. Being able to find the game, especially for new twitter users, is going to improve. The tougher challenge will be the backend work of compression, stability and decreasing the delay. That’s easier than it looks due to the variables out of twitter’s control but it is something that will get better over time and with better technology.

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NFL To Sling TV

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


SLING TVSling TV just did a mic drop today for cord cutting sports fans. They added NFL Network and NFL RedZone to their list of channels. Let that sink in for a moment. NFL RedZone is now available for an extra $5 a month and you can truly watch it anywhere on any device. Sling TV just hip-checked AT&T/DirecTV into the boards right in time for football season.

A few months ago the NFL Network was off of DISH (Sling TV’s parent company). Like many DISH negotiations, this one ended up being fought in public. The two sides settled and you can bet that part of that settlement was getting the NFL Network and NFL RedZone onto Sling TV.

NFL is not new to the OTT game. They have NFL Now (which I honestly can’t tell you what it’s supposed to be) on various devices but no NFL RedZone and no NFL Network. RedZone is really the key here. That is 17 weeks of live game footage without commercials during the season without having to spend a car payment for NFL Sunday Ticket on DirecTV.

Sling TV OptionsSling TV will continue to add channels but bagging the NFL is a game changer for the cord cutting sports fan. It’s an economical choice and one that they can take everywhere. This should force AT&T to make NFL Sunday Ticket a stand alone service (they already do in some place). Make no mistake, this is a game changer in the OTT-land of sports.

The Trend Is The New Normal

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Last March I wrote a blog at the rash of younger players retiring from the NFL. The most notable of which being San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis. Well as training camps get under way there have been another slew of quality players (if not Hall of Fame candidates) 30 and under who have decided that another season on the gridiron just isn’t worth it.

We all know about the high profile retirements this off-season of Peyton Manning and Charles Woodson. Those were expected but Charles Johnson, aka Megatron, hanging it up along with Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch came as a shock to some. They were joined by wide receiver Greg Jennings, linebackers Jerod Mayo and AJ Tarpley, defensive backs Walter Thurmond and Husain Abdullah, offensive linemen Phil Loadholt and Eugene Monroe just to name a few.

The oldest member of the group listed outside of Manning and Woodson, was just 30 years old. As the video above shows, some people just can’t believe that 30 years olds like Lynch and Johnson are walking away from millions of dollars.

Everyone has a reason but as Tarpley stated in his piece with MMQB, it was about concussions. It is a reasonable conclusion to make that with all of the publicity surrounding CTE that it is influencing players in their late 20’s, veterans, to take the money and run.

Last March I said that we will have to wait and see if this was a trend. Over a year later I would say that it isn’t a trend but a fact of life moving forward. Yes players like Manning and Woodson will still be around but overall NFL teams should expect players to give them between five to seven years of service before they hang it up.

While this seems like a ‘crisis’ for the NFL it really isn’t. Back in 2011 an NFL study said that the average NFL career was around seven years. The league and teams should plan on players pushing very hard for a bigger and bigger signing bonus after their rookie contracts are up and that in all reality shouldn’t be coming as a great shock to anyone in the NFL.

The NFL is smart. They will adjust salary caps and such to fit what is going to be the ‘new normal’ for the sport.

EXTRA READING:

What it’s like to retire from the NFL

From Sports To Tech

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


I came across an uplifting article on Mashable this week about former San Francisco 49ers Pro Bowl linebacker Patrick Willis. Willis retired from the sport a year ago and now works for storage company in Silicon Valley. Not exactly what you were expecting from the former linebacker was it? Funny thing, he won’t be the only former athlete in tech.

Patrick Willis LinkedIN

Sam Laird’s article touched on how Willis went from gridiron to boardroom and it’s really refreshing to see. There are so many stories about players having health and financial issues after their playing days are done. To see a man go from the poorest of the poor in the deep south to first round draft pick and now Executive Vice President of a tech company. Pretty impressive stuff.

Willis isn’t going to be the exception. Golden State Warriors forward and 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala signed with Warriors a few years ago in part because of the tech industry. He works closely with Andreessen Horowitz, invests heavily in tech and it’s pretty clear that he will join the industry after his playing days are over.

Willis and Iguodala are showing other athletes how it can be done especially if you live in the Bay Area. You don’t have to be a megastar to be able to pivot and find success in another industry. While you will always hear the story about the athlete who lost it all, you will also be hearing, I hope, more stories like the one about Willis and Igoudala.

That Didn’t Last Long

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Jaryyd Hayne’s venture into the NFL didn’t last long. In fact it lasted only one full season. Hayne ‘retired’ this past week to return to the world of rugby. Specifically he is playing with Fiji Rugby Sevens team in the Olympics this summer. Does this effect future non-football athletes from getting a shot in the NFL?

When Hayne left the Parramatta Eels he said, ‘I’m always telling people to chase their dreams and follow their hearts, if I don’t live by that I’m not being honest with myself.’ Now instead of sticking to that dream he is giving up on it to pursue another one.

While his circumstances have changed with the San Francisco 49ers as they changed out head coaches this off-season (Jim Tomsula is out and Chip Kelly is in). Kelly said that he was ‘surprised’ by Hayne’s decision but that he understood it. This leads one to believe that Hayne did have a shot at the 49ers roster with the new coach and that continuing his dream of playing the NFL was still a viable option.

It was less than a week a go that the 49ers were talking about how they expected Hayne to make a ‘major impact’ with the team in 2016.

Hayne could have been a solid NFL player. A great player? Maybe but the percentages of that were probably low and maybe that was a deciding factor is his decision to leave and pursue yet another dream. The fact is is that only Hayne knows for sure. What we do know is that Hayne had a legitimate shot at becoming a solid NFL player and I wish him the best of luck in the Olympics.

Winners of the Draft

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


The 2016 NFL Draft is finally over and the Cleveland Browns came out on top. No I am not kidding. The Browns traded out of the second slot in the first round, accumulated draft picks and then snagged former PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year Scooby Wright III with the 250th pick in the seventh round. Yes, they won but they were not the only winners.

The Browns need a lot of help on the field and while there seems to finally be some direction in the front office, only time will tell if they got the help they needed. The front office did send all of the right signals by moving out of the number two slot in the first and ending up with 14 picks overall.

Their first round pick, Corey Coleman, may be the best wide receiver in the draft while third round pick Carl Nassib was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and has a lot of room to grow. Throw in former USC quarterback Cody Kessler, Colorado State wide receiver Rashard Higgins and the aforementioned Wright and that is a heck of a draft.

The Browns were not the only winners. Many feel that the Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams and Denver Broncos all had outstanding drafts.

The Jags walk away with arguably two top 10 picks with cornerback Jalen Ramsey and linebacker Myles Jack. Jack fell into the second round due to health concerns but even with those concerns, he’s still one of the better athletes in the draft.

The Rams traded up to get Cal quarterback Jared Goff with the first overall pick but then took South Carolina wideout Pharoh Cooper in the fourth round and signed all time PAC-12 receptions leader Nelson Spruce as a free agent. Talk about surrounding your new QB with weapons.

Eddie YarbroughDenver traded up to get their QB of the future in Paxton Lynch. Add in former Utah running back Devontae Booker along with free agents wide receiver Bralon Addison of Oregon and defensive end Eddie Yarbrough of Wyoming. The defending Super Bowl champs proved to be shrewd and calculated.

We won’t really know what teams did well and what teams didn’t do well for a few years. At first glance the Browns, Jags, Rams and Broncos seem to be headed in the right direction. He chose well, filled needs and didn’t over stretch. Now let’s see if it pans out.

Twitter Winner

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Twitter beat out Amazon and Verizon among others for the right to stream 10 Thursday Night Football games this fall. It comes as a surprise to many but in the end it may be the right move by both the NFL and Twitter.

The deal is interesting for many reasons, one of which is how is Twitter going to pull this off? MLB Advanced Media President and CEO Bob Bowman was at the Code/Media conference a few months talking about how much of a technological challenge it would be to pull off weekly streams of an NFL game. Possible yes but dicey at best.

Maybe the fact that Twitter is primarily a mobile application means that the video will be limited in Mbps and screen size. The games will after all be available via traditional broadcasters (CBS and NBC respectfully) so you would logically think that these live streams would not see the same usage as say a game that was only live streamed and not on TV.

nfl on yahooThe second interesting fact is that it only cost Twitter $10 million or a million dollars a game. Last year Yahoo paid almost $20 million for the Buffalo Bills vs Jacksonville Jaguars. Granted Yahoo was the only place you could see the game and had control over the advertising which is probably why the rights cost them more. Twitter is getting none of that.

One more reason why this deal probably got done, Twitter’s CFO Anthony Noto was once the CFO of the NFL. You can’t say that that didn’t play a part.

When you think about it, this deal seems to help both parties. It shows that the NFL is serious about cord-cutting because you don’t have to be a Twitter user to watch the game (which makes sense since you don’t have to have a cable or satellite subscription to get NBC or CBS). It also helps Twitter who has hard a hard time of it lately with flat user numbers and a lack of advertisers.

See SBNation’s Matt Ufford on Nightly Business Report. 

No doubt that there will be a lot of eyes on Twitter come the fall when they begin streaming games. Will the quality of the stream be there? How much strain will be put on mobile carriers and CDN’s? Interesting questions indeed. Almost more interesting than some of the games will be.

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 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: 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.