What To Watch Thurs. 12/5 – Sun. 12/8

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It might not be as festive as last weekend but the next four days have no shortage of sports drama.

THURSDAY 12/5

San Jose Sharks @ Pittsburgh Penguins – 4pm Regional Broadcast: Believe it or not this is a very dynamic match up of leaders in their divisions. The Sharks head east with 43 points to their name while the Pens have 39 points and have yet to hit on all cylinders.

Louisville @ Cincinnati – 4:30pm ESPN: One of the final times (probably) to see Teddy Bridgewater as a collegiate QB. He and the Cardinals have to win if they want a chance at another BCS Game. Cincy still has a chance at a BCS berth but this game is really for the Keg of Nails and a piece of the conference championship.

FRIDAY 12/6

MAC Title Game: Bowling Green State vs Northern Illinois – 5pm ESPN 2: Time for the MAC title game and it’s usually really, really good. Northern Illinois escaped last year beating #18 ranked Kent State in 2 OTs. The goal this year, DO THE SAME THING. NIU wins and they get into the BCS for the second straight year. QB Jordan Lynch also gets to improve his Heisman Trophy chances. Bowling Green and Head Coach Dave Clawson look to get to a 10 win season. Something even Urban Meyer couldn’t do at BGSU.

SATURDAY 12/7

Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State – 9am ABC: Bedlam. They call it that for a reason and both teams had two weeks to get ready for this one. OU can spoil the Cowboys possible Big 12 title and BCS Berth. OU owns the overall series but Oklahoma State won in Stillwater two years ago and last years game went into OT. Again, Bedlam.

Texas @ Baylor – 12:30pm FOX: Baylor wins and they get the Big 12 title and a spot in the BCS along with Texas Head Coach Mack Brown possibly losing his job. Texas wins and they can go to the BCS with a Big 12 title if their old rival Oklahoma can bring home another Bedlam victory.

Sporting KC welcome Jason Kries and Real Salt Lake to Blue Hell

Sporting KC welcome Jason Kries and Real Salt Lake to Blue Hell

MLS CUP: Real Salt Lake @ Sporting KC – 1pm ESPN: It’s MLS Cup in one of the best venues in all of MLS. It’s two of the best teams led by two of the best coaches representing two of the best run organizations. Should be an absolute dandy. WELCOME TO BLUE HELL.

Big Ten Title Game: Ohio State vs Michigan State – 5:15pm FOX: It’s for all the marbles. Ohio State wins and they’re in the National Title game. Easier said then done as they have to go through one of the best defenses the Big Ten has ever seen in Michigan State.

Mountain West Title Game: Utah State @ Fresno State – 7pm CBS: Laugh all you want. Two amazing coaching jobs and two of the best teams you haven’t seen all year. End your night with what promises to be a good ole fashion wild west shootout.

SUNDAY 12/8

Detroit Lions @ Philadelphia Eagles – 10am FOX: The Eagles found their wings with QB Nick Foles. The man has yet to throw in interception this season. But the Lions find the end zone like kids finding candy on Halloween.

Seattle Seahawks @ San Francisco 49ers – 1pm FOX: Seattle wrapped up a playoff berth with their dismantling of the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. They win this and they pretty much lock up the NFC West and get home field advantage throughout the playoffs. But it’s the Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll vs the 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. This rivalry goes back to their USC vs Stanford days. Harbaugh is not going down without a fight and the 49ers have looked really good over the last two weeks.

Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints – 5:15pm NBC:  It’s a fight for supremacy in the NFC South. This is the first of two games between two potential playoff teams over the next three weeks. Get ready.

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“Traditional” Beats “New” When It Comes to Live Sports (Despite Red Bull)

This past fall the Red Bull Stratos jump had at its peak 8 million concurrent views on YouTube. That annihilated the streaming of last years Super Bowl which had 2.1 million uniques which was on NBCSports.com. No one knew what would happen when the streams hit that 8 million mark and there was some genuine concern among the engineers but the system held up. A major part of the system though hasn’t held up well this past year.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is rapidly becoming a leader in the cloud space. According to a Bloomberg report by Cory Johnson AWS will generate $1.6 billion in revenue in 2012. It’s not all fun and games for AWS though. Christmas Eve saw Netflix go down. According a Wall Street Journal article 95% of Netflix computational and storage needs are handled by AWS. Netflix in turn accounts for 33% of peak downstream residential internet traffic in North America so if AWS goes down, which it’s done a few times this year, it’s a problem.

If YouTube (who’s parent company is Google) would have failed during the Red Bull Stratos jump one could argue about the level of consumer outrage it would have received from the public. If YouTube was hosting the Super Bowl or the BCS National TItle Game on the other hand and the stream fails then there is a pretty good chance that the level of consumer outrage would be significantly higher.

SNF-DALvWSH

For all of the the mocking and criticism that goes toward broadcast television, cable and satellite providers they have something that people will continue to pay for, reliability. If the Super Bowl is on you can bet that you are going to be able to find a reliable “old school” way to watch it. The broadcast, cable or satellite signal does not get weighed down by the amount of people using it. It does not need to be ‘throttled down’ just to be able to continue showing you the game or event.

Strip away the economics of this argument and just look at the stability of the platforms and on that alone it is easy to see why live sports will continue to be the lifeblood of “traditional” outlets like broadcast, cable and satellite. While leagues like the NFL, MLB, NBA, MLS and UFC will continue to offer live streams of games and events they will not be able to deliver the same experience or reliability night in and night out like the “traditional” outlets can.

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Food for Thought: On The Media

Bowl-ed Over: The plethora of bowls and why there should be less of them.

It’s Bowl season in College Football and we do mean season. Between Saturday December 15, 2012 and Monday January 6, 2013 there will be a total of 35 bowl games with a grand total payout of $260,673,125.

That’s right, over $260 million is going to the teams that play in the bowl games and their conferences. The biggest payout is the BCS National Championship game which pays out $18 million to each team and the cheapest is the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl which pays $325,000 to each team. In any event, this is big money.

But should there be so many games? When this kind of money is on the table the response is usually an unequivocal YES! Yet if you remove the dollar amounts think about this; in some cases they are rewarding mediocrity.

12 .500 teams will play in bowl games (2 games will actually feature .500 teams against one another) and 1 sub-.500 team. Georgia Tech will get paid $2,000,000 to play USC in the SUN Bowl on New Years Eve Day. A team with a 6-7 record is getting $2,000,000.

Virginia Tech by all accounts had a down year. They have played in 5 BCS Games (which have multimillion dollar payouts) in the last 10 years. With high preseason expectations they find themselves at 6-6 and heading to the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Florida. While a 6-6 season is a down year for Va Tech it is an exceptional year for their conference rivals Duke. Duke is going bowling for the 1st time since 1994 (the game was played on January 2, 1995) in which they lost to Wisconsin. So a 6-6 season to Duke is a success.

Even with this perspective is it appropriate to award a post season game and in some cases millions of dollars to a team that didn’t even have a winning record? If the answer is ‘no’ then there should be less bowl games. If the argument is for the current system then please this Bloomberg article from 2010. Just because you go to a bowl game doesn’t guarantee a financial windfall for the teams or the conference. It also doesn’t teach college athletes to strive to be better.

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