The Digital Middle Ground

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


BallmerConsensus is that Steve Ballmer overpaid for the Los Angeles Clippers back in 2014. Considering that he is worth around $27 billion, spending $2 billion for an NBA franchise in the second largest TV market in the United States seems like a deal for someone in his position. Part of the reason that the NBA was more than happy to allow the former Microsoft CEO into the league was the fresh ideas he would bring. One of those is Ballmer’s push for the Clippers to have their own OTT channel which could open the floodgates for other teams, leagues and conferences.

Back in April the Sports Business Journal (SBJ) did an article about how Ballmer was cutting out the digital rights from the next regional TV package for the Clippers so they could start an Over The Top (OTT) channel where a user would authenticate with their regional TV subscription. This would not be a replacement of the live games but an addition to it.

Ballmer, like his time at Microsoft, is thinking logically but not necessarily radically. He is not refusing to see what is coming but he is unwilling to kill the cash cow and innovate into the next thing. Truth be told, the NBA may not be allowing him to go too far either.

Sound familiar? It should if you’ve read or listen to Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen and dove into his theory of disruptive innovation.

The fact is that sports rights are at their limit when it comes to rising costs and passing on those costs to the consumer. With the wage gap in the United States becoming such a major talking point this political season, it is becoming harder and harder for people to justify the monthly costs of a cable or satellite subscription to watch random games. The price may not be too high for just their local team though.

MLB.tv is doing something similar right now but it is designed for people outside of the TV foot print of the club. In other words, if you live in Seattle and don’t want to pay for cable then good luck trying to watch Mariners games online somewhere.

REMOTESeveral years ago when sports leagues begun creating their own TV channels like the NHL Network and the NFL Network, many people believed that it was only a matter of time before the league’s brought all of their games in house and cut out the traditional partners like NBC, CBS, FOX and ESPN. Well that hasn’t happened because of the billions that can be made by bidding out the rights to these partners. It appears now though that we are at a place where a league or conference can keep their digital rights and sell to a TV partner because that, in the end,is a win-win. It lowers the cost for the traditional TV partner but gives the league, team, or conference an avenue to grow revenue with their most valuable assets.

It’s one step back and possibly three steps forward type of scenario.

The Clippers are not going to walk away from a regional sports deal that pays them upwards of $50 million a year. Even Ballmer isn’t that crazy. However, retaining the digital rights can give him a lot more flexibility even if the Clippers are not going to be live streaming the actual games with their OTT channel. It’s a logical yet still a trailblazing move. Kind of wonder why the Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban didn’t do this already.

 

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.

Dunking Ballmer

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Forbes released their richest owners in the four major sports list. The top dog? LA Clippers owner and former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. Ballmer led the owners of the four major sports leagues with $23.5 billion.

How does he celebrate being at the top of the list? Dunking with the Clippers new creepy mascot.

It shouldn’t be too shocking that Ballmer leads all owners in net worth. Ballmer still owns 4% of Microsoft. How much is that worth? Well Ballmer bought the Clippers for $2 billion….which is the same amount of money he made last year because Microsoft was up 18%.

I’d celebrate by dunking too.

On a side note, Phil Knight of Nike is worth more than Ballmer. He clocked in at $24.4 billion. Think about that for a moment.

What To Watch: Fri. 2/19 – Sun. 2/21

All times are Pacific.

Friday February 19th

Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks – 5pm NBA League Pass: The top two teams in the Southeast go head to head in the ATL.

Toronto Raptors at Chicago Bulls – 5pm NBA League Pass: Bulls have been hurting as of late and the Raptors have been on a roll. Can the Bulls turn it around in the house that Jordan built?

Paul George DunkIndiana Pacers at Oklahoma City Thunder – 5pm ESPN: Inter-conference matchup with Paul George vs Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant which is basically part of the starting lineup for Team USA in the Olympics this summer.

 

Saturday February 20th

Duke at Louisville – 9am ESPN: It’s still strange to think that of this is as a conference game but it is. Duke is coming off a huge win at UNC this past week but they are a depleted bunch and this might be too much for Coach K and his Blue Devils.

Tampa Bay Lightning at Pittsburgh Penguins – 9:30am NHL.TV: These two are currently locked into the last two playoff spots in the Eastern conference.

Miami at UNC – 10am CBS: Huge matchup in the ACC. Carolina has to put the pieces back together after their crushing loss to Duke this past week. The Hurricanes are very, very good and could give the Tar Heels their second loss in a row at home.

Oklahoma at West Virginia – 1pm ESPN: Top 10 matchup with massive implications for tournament seeding and for the Big 12 title. Remember, the Mountaineers beat Kansas earlier this year at home.

LA Kings at Nashville Predators – 5pm NHL.TV: The Kings are atop of the Pacific division but they have some teams hot on their tail. Meanwhile the Predators are at the end of just a nasty swing of games against top teams.

Boston Bruins at Dallas Stars – 5pm NHLN: East meets West in a game of two teams headed for the playoffs.

Purdue at Indiana – 5:30pm ESPN: Purdue may be ranked higher but it’s Indiana that is tied for first in the Big Ten. It’s an in-state matchup with a whole lot riding on it.

Klay ThompsonGolden State Warriors at LA Clippers – 5:30pm ABC: Dub City vs Lob City from LA. Oh and they are first and second in the Pacific division. Seriously, is there something else you needed to do on a Saturday night?

 

 

Sunday February 21st

Chelsea vs Manchester City – 8am FS2: It’s an FA Cup weekend in England and this is one of the better match-ups.

Daytona 500Daytona 500 – 10am FOX: It’s that time of year again. Time for 200 laps and 500 miles of hard nosed racin. Buckle up and see if  Joey Logano can make it two in row. Boogity Boogity Boogity Let’s Go Racin Boys!

Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild – 12:30pm NBC: The division rivals head outside as part of the Coors Light Stadium Series. It won’t be snowing…or below freezing but it should be fun none the less.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Oklahoma City Thunder – 12:30pm ABC: These are two of the best teams in the league with the firepower to win it all.

Calgary Flames at Anaheim Ducks – 4pm NHL.TV: The Ducks are on fire right now and the Flames are looking to claw their way into playoff contention.

Detroit Red Wings at NY Rangers – 4pm NBCSN: You just can’t help but watch a game featuring two of the NHL’s Original 6.

What To Watch Fri. 2/6 – Sun. 2/8

All times are Pacific

Friday February 6th

Anaheim Ducks at Washington Capitals – 4pm NHL GameCenter: It’s a tough road trip for the Ducks who are the best team in the NHL by points. But Nashville one night and then DC the next might be too much.

LA Clippers at Toronto Raptors – 4pm ESPN: Two of the top teams in the NBA face off north of the border.

Golden State Warriors at Atlanta Hawks – 4:30pm NBA League Pass: This is the marquee game of the weekend. The Hawks once reeled off 19 wins in a row and the Warriors are just as good. In fact they only have 17 losses between them.

 

Saturday February 7th

Tottenham vs Arsenal – 4am NBCSN: It’s the North London Derby. Enjoy.

Everton vs Liverpool – 9:30 am NBC: It’s another Derby except this one is north of London and USA National Team Goalkeeper Tim Howard returns for Everton.

Notre Dame at Duke – 10am CBS: Top ten matchup and an ACC matchup which is still crazy to think about. All in one of the best venues in all of sports.

NY Rangers at Nashville Predators – Noon NHL GamerCenter: The Predators are one of the top teams in the NHL and are nearly unbeatable at home. The Rangers are coming off a big win against Boston but goalie Henrik Lundqvist isn’t 100% and they are going to need him against the Preds.

Louisville at Virginia – 4pm ESPN: Man is this a tough stretch for Virginia. They win this one and it’s 2-1 against Duke, UNC and Louisville. Not bad. Now they have to win.

Portland TrailBlazers at Dallas Mavericks – 5:30pm NBA League Pass: This is a playoff preview game. Enjoy.

 

Sunday February 8th

Chicago Blackhawks at St Louis Blues – 9:30am NBC: These two played a playoff series for the ages last year. Get a taste of it here.

LA Clippers at Oklahoma City Thunder – 10am ABC: It’s like watching an All-Star game but different.

Anaheim Ducks at Tampa Bay Lightning – 2pm NHL GameCenter: The best in the west takes on the best in the east.

Atlanta Hawks at Memphis Grizzlies – 3pm NBA League Pass: The Hawks have to play two divisional leaders one weekend. Ouch.

Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins – 4:30pm NBCSN: Original six matchup and one of the oldest rivalries in hockey.

What To Watch Thurs. 11/20 – Sun. 11/23

All times are PST

Thursday November 20th

Kansas St at West Virginia – 4pm FS1: K-ST and WVU may not get into the College Football Playoff but this should still be one heck of a game.

LA Clippers at Miami Heat – 5pm TNT: Still a fun game even without LeBron.

Friday November 21st

Chicago Bulls at Portland TrailBlazers – 7:30pm ESPN: Battle of two of the top teams in NBA.

Saturday November 22nd

Minnesota at Nebraska – 9am ESPN: Key game in the Big Ten West. Both teams coming off of embarrassing losses last weekend.

Arsenal vs Manchester United – 9:30am NBC: The game may not decide the Premier League but it’s still a lot of bad blood between the two.

Yale at Harvard – 9:30am NBCSN: It’s one of the longest running rivalries in College Football. This year the winner walks away with the Ivy League title. It’s also signifies the beginning of the end of the College Football season.

Ole Miss at Arkansas – 12:30pm CBS: Arkansas finally broke through and got their first SEC win in what seems like forever. Now they welcome Ole Miss to town in a must win for both but for different reasons.

Arizona at Utah – 12:30 ESPN: Think the SEC West is tough? Try the Pac 12 South.

Stanford at Cal – 1pm FS1: THE BIG GAME! Winner goes bowling. Cal QB Goff has 4 INT’s all year.

Louisville at Notre Dame – 12:30pm NBC: Notre Dame is reeling and Louisville is no joke.

Montreal Canadiens at Boston Bruins – 4pm NHLN: An original 6 match up for your Saturday night.

Missouri at Tennessee – 4:30pm ESPN: Mizzou is looking to wrap up their second straight SEC East title. Tennessee needs to win one of the next two to go bowling.

USC at UCLA – 5pm ABC: Battle of LA.

Frankie Edgar vs Cub Swanson – 9pm(ish) FS1: This is a heck of a fight in the Featherweight Division.

Sunday November 23rd

Detroit Lions at New England Patriots – 10am FOX: Can anyone stop the Pats?

Montreal Alouettes at Hamilton Tiger-Cats – 10am ESPN: Eastern Conference Final.

NY Red Bulls vs NE Revolution – 10:30pm NBC: Can the Red Bulls get Thierry Henry to an MLS Cup before he retires?

Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks – 1pm FOX: This could decide the NFC West.

Edmonton Eskimos at Calgary Stampeders – 1:30pm ESPN3: Western Conference Final, a chance to get to the Grey Cup and the battle of Alberta all wrapped into one.

LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders – 2pm ESPN: Game 1 of two in the Western Conference Final.

Mother Nature Strikes Again

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

It’s happened again. A weather event has affected the sporting world for the second time in 4 months. This time it was a snow storm in the northeast that dropped almost 25 inches of snow at Logan International Airport in Boston, MA.

TD Garden

What did it effect this time? The Boston Bruins first moved the start time of their game against the Tampa Bay Lightning then postponed it. The Duke University basketball team had to delay their travel from Durham, NC to Boston until Sunday morning for their match up against Boston College (which they won). The New York Knicks stayed an extra night in Minneapolis, MN before heading back home to play the LA Clippers (a game in which they lost). Finally the New England Revolution had to move around some travel so that they could make it to the much sunnier Tucson, AZ for some preseason matches.

It’s high time leagues, organizations, players, and fans come to the realization that this is going to be the norm and not the random. How coaches coach, how players pace themselves are going to be key if they are to compete on the road when travel plans are disrupted. This hiccup to the routine can cause some major issues mentally and physically. Just ask anyone who has had their flight delayed or luggage lost. It trumps everything else and not in the fun way. Teams would be wise to begin to study how last minute travel effects performance. It could mean the difference between a championship and a ‘oh, we almost had it!’

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