Diary of a Sports Cord Cutter: Coming True

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 8.7.2017

In a post back in May I pointed out how the little guys were primed for big things when it came to over-the-top (OTT) services. I thought this might be six months off but I was wrong. Two months later The Big Sky Conference signed a deal to have all of their football and basketball games shown on Pluto TV which can be found on just about every OTT device (Roku, Amazon Fire, etc). It’s a trend that will continue and the time for your own private sports channel is finally worth doing.

While the Big Sky Conference isn’t going to bring huge numbers to Pluto TV, it is a niche group. The alumni from Eastern Washington who now lives in Austin,Texas can see their Eagles square off against Portland State. The Montana State Bobcat alum who lives in Sacramento, doesn’t have to make the trek to Bozeman to see them take on Montana in November. It may not seem all that impressive but it’s giving consumers what they want which means they will probably stick around longer which means you can sell more ads and generate more revenue.

The National Lacrosse League (NLL) is showing how to make your own network by using the right combination of platforms to reach your audience. As a recent Bloomberg article pointed out that the NLL is able to charge customers a $35 subscription to watch the league’s OTT channel but it also gives fans a game a week live on Twitter for free.

People are starting to see not just the economic benefit that moving to a straight OTT platform can provide but also the indirect revenue that it can generate.

Mountain West Championship 2016

One of the major topics of discussion that this years Mountain West Conference media days was the possible move away from traditional broadcast partners and to their own OTT channel. Why? Well one of the biggest complaints coming out of the conference the last few years has been the kick off times. Boise State currently has five games scheduled for kick off 8pm or later and three games on week nights. When you get into October and November, it’s not exactly getting any warmer in the mountains when the sun goes down and fans are starting to stay home. That means less revenue from tickets, concessions, parking, etc. Fans have been complaining about this for a few years now and by the sound of it, Commissioner Craig Thompson is listening.

Each conference and league looks at cord cutting a different way but in the end it’s all about one thing, money. Whether it’s about holding on to revenue or if it’s about generating more, each league and conference needs to come up with their own acceptance criteria of what’s best for them. The good news is that there are plenty of platforms and plenty of combinations to try to find out which one is going to suit them the best.

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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.