BAM is for Billions

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


BAMIt wasn’t a secret that Disney was looking to take a stake in MLBAM (BAM) but the end number may surprise some folks. According to Bloomberg Disney is buying 33% of BAM for $3.5 billion with an option to buy more in a few years. That is a valuation of over $10 billion. Not bad for an entity that doesn’t even turn a profit yet.

A few years ago Fast Company did a profile on BAM and within that article there was an estimated IPO price for BAM in 2005. That number was $2.5 billion so the company has essentially increased around $8 billion over the last 11 years. If you did some loose math based on that article you could see that BAM was more or less breaking even.

That’s not to say that MLBAM isn’t worth a $10 billion valuation. They are a white label solution as their CEO Bob Bowman would say. They are the streaming backend for MLB, WWE, NHL, Watch ESPN and have even done the Super Bowl. They made bets that paid off and with this purchase by Disney, it puts them in a position to stay in the lead when it comes to live video streaming.

Disney for it’s part made another shrewd investment. It’s no secret that their cash cow, ESPN, is having to adjust to the new realities of cord cutting. Enter an investment by it’s parent company and Disney has created an A to Z revenue stream when it comes to over the top video. It’s like selling the car and the gas that goes in it.

This is a very smart purchase by Disney. They have the cash to do it and it’s very well timed. It’s no wonder that the Disney board wants Bob Iger to stick around a bit longer. It will be interesting to see if BAM competitors like NeuLion look to cut deals or merge with CDN or network. In the meantime the only one doing better in this space is probably Amazon.com.

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Digital Dugout

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


Normally Major League Baseball (MLB) is the last sports league to adopt change much less technological change when it involves the game itself. Tradition is very important to the gatekeepers of baseball which is why a partnership with Apple to allow iPads in the dugout during games is all the more shocking. This change is a quantum leap in a lot regards and puts MLB in front of the other major sports when it comes to using technology during a game.

Apple’s iPad Pro and an app called Dugout will allow each team to access their own proprietary data during a game. This is includes video if the player or coach so desires. Now think about this for a second, the NFL and their much ballyhooed deal with Microsoft to allow Surface tablets on the sidelines only allow pictures and even those are limited. Meanwhile, the old school MLB is going to allow actual video and hopes to get to a point where it’s real time sometime in the near future.

The handoff  is going to be key. As Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon pointed out, until you have AI moving at the speed of thought there is going to be limit to the technology. The anticipation, preparation, etc will eventually come but Maddon makes the same point that Bill Gates made years ago which is that the computer needs to be as easy as a piece of paper.

There must have been some hesitation in the offices of general managers and mangers across the league when this idea was initially floated. Why? Well there is always the old school fear that the other team will ‘steal your signals’ but the most recent technological example is when the Houston Astros were ‘hacked’ by the St Louis Cardinals.

Regardless of the past, come Opening Day players and coaches can ditch the binders (if they want) and grab the iPad to access information. A massive leap indeed for MLB and a move that will have other leagues monitoring the move closely.

 

 

What To Watch: 4/1 – 4/3

All times Pacific.

Friday April 1st

New England Revolution vs NY Red Bulls – 4pm UniMas: These two were the cream of the crop last year in the east and should be again this year.

Minnesota Wild at Detroit Red Wings – 4:30pm NHLN: The Wild are holding on to the last playoff spot in the west while the Red Wings are two points out of the last spot in the east. So yes, there is a lot on the line.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks – 5pm ESPN: Two of the top teams in the east look to fine tune things before the playoffs.

Washington Capitals at Colorado Avalanche – 6pm NHL.TV: The Avs are playoff hopes are fading fast but whatever glimmer of hope they do have Ovi and the crew look to crush it.

Boston Celtics at Golden State Warriors – 7:30 ESPN: Warriors are zeroing in on the best season in NBA history. To get to 73 wins, they have to beat a solid Celtics team.

 

Saturday April 2nd

Liverpool vs Tottenham – 9:30am NBC: Liverpool looks to give the high flying Spurs a reality check with only a few games left in the season.

Pittsburgh Penguins at NY Islanders – 10am NHL.TV: The Isles are in hot pursuit of the Pens playoff spot. Seeding could be all the difference when it comes to the chase for Lord Stanley.

FC Barcelona vs Real MadridBarcelona vs Real Madrid – 11:30am beIN Sports: Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar, Bale, Rodriguez, Neymar, Suarez…yeah, there is some world class talent on the pitch.

Dallas Stars at LA Kings – 1pm NHL.TV: Playoff preview. Watch it.

Villanova vs Oklahoma – 3pm TBS: Game one of two to decide who gets to play for all the marbles come Monday. Keep and eye on Buddy Hield from OU. He is probably the best player in the country.

Colorado Rapids vs Toronto FC: 5pm MLS LIVE: The Rapids are worth watching….at least thus far. TFC brings a lot of talent and fire power so the Rapids defense will be tested often.

Detroit Pistons at Chicago Bulls – 5pm NBA.TV: Bulls have got to stop the bleeding if they want to be in the playoffs. It starts with beating the Pistons at home.

Sporting KC vs Real Salt Lake – 5:30pm MLS LIVE: These are played for MLS Cup just two short years ago in KC. They are very different now but it’s still a good one.

Syracuse vs North Carolina – 5:45pm TBS: This is may be an ACC matchup (UNC won the two meetings during the regular season) and UNC has the Cuse out gunned. But Syracuse has nothing to lose and their coach has been here before.

 

Sunday April 3rd

St Louis Cardinals at Pittsburgh Pirates – 10am ESPN: Baseball is back! Two playoff teams from a year ago.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets – 12:30pm ABC: OKC has a playoff spot sown up but the Rockets are desperately trying to get in. This is a tall order for Harden and Co.

Toronto Blue Jays at Tampa Bay Rays – 1pm ESPN2: Division rivals in arguably the toughest division in baseball. Bat flip anyone?

Philadelphia Flyers at Pittsburgh Penguins – 2pm NHL.TV: Flyers are desperately trying to hold on to that last playoff spot in the east.

Orlando City vs Portland Timbers – 5pm FS1: Orlando City is an outpost and no where near Portland, Oregon. Will the travel, atmosphere and weather effect the MLS Cup Champs?

Portland TrailBlazers at Golden State Warriors – 5pm NBA,TV: Both are bound for the playoffs but the thing to keep your eye on here is Damian Lillard. He can provide the Warriors plenty of headaches.

NY Mets at KC Royals – 5:30pm ESPN: Sunday night baseball is a rematch of last years World series.

 

Cord Cutting Is Here For The Sports Fan

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


“Cord Cutting” is one of the hip terms thrown around in the cable, satellite and broadcast world. The real question is, is this a viable option for the true sports fan. The sports fan is, after all, why entities like ESPN, CBS, FOX and NBC write checks with three commas in them to leagues to acquire their rights. So the answer is YES you can cut the cord…almost.

SECN on SLING

SEC Network via Sling TV on an iPad.

Dish Network launched Sling TV earlier this year. They keys for Sling TV are as follows: there is no contract, it is $25 a month with the “sports extra” package that includes the ESPN family of networks and is device agnostic. Yes, it is a viable option for the sports fan. While the speed of your internet connection is a factor in how good your picture quality is, overall it’s an easy to use service that allows you to watch all of the ESPN channels anywhere you want on just about any device.

Outside of the ESPN channels, the sports package isn’t anything to scream about. The package also offers beIN sports, Outdoor Channel, Univision IDN and the now defunct Universal Sports. I am not sure that these really qualify for a “sports package” but you get them none the less. So in reality you are paying $5 a month for ESPN2, ESPNEWS, ESPNU, SEC Network, and ESPN3. ESPN3 is kind of a hidden gem because it can allow you to watch games on ABC which is awesome if you have a bad over the air signal. You can also use ESPN3 and the WATCH ESPN app to watch a second game because your Sling TV account is a single sign on. That means one account, one screen at a time.

Sling TV doesn’t offer rewind functionality or a DVR. These can be annoying but not deal breakers by any stretch of the imagination.

SLING TV

Sling TV on the Roku 3.

If you live out of market then you are still paying for the league apps like MLS Live, NHL Gamecenter, MLB.TV, etc. You can also get NFL Sunday Ticket online in certain markets. The cost is the same as DirecTV but if you have the money it’s an awesome package. All of these apps available on virtually all of the OTT devices, Do your homework though to make sure that the app your looking for is available on the device you are thinking about purchasing.

Twitter

On the positive side, Sling TV’s customer service is pretty awesome especially if you go through Twitter to do it. It’s a pay as you go service but if you pre pay a few months ahead of time then they will give you deal on an OTT player like a Roku or Amazon Fire. I went with the Roku 3 after watching a review by Lon Seidman and despite some minor drawbacks, it’s working out pretty well.

There are drawbacks of course to cutting the cord. If you go the Sling TV route and dump your cable or satellite subscription then you do not get FS1, CBS Sports Network, NBCSN, NFL Network. NHLN, NBA TV, MLBN or your regional sports channels. This means that if you live in a market like San Francisco, Phoenix, Houston, Pittsburgh, etc then you won’t be able to see your local teams in baseball, basketball, hockey and so forth. You’ll also be blocked out by the league packages offered by MLB, NBA, NHL and MLS and be forced to head to your local sports bar or the game itself.

The other drawback is that you are back on over the air TV. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because, well, it’s free. However, if you live in a place with a bad signal then you may not get your basic network channels like ABC or CBS which isn’t a problem until Sunday NFL games roll around.

Something that you may not have thought about ( I didn’t) is the ability to switch quickly between games. On a college football Saturday, I will swap between three or four games at a time. That is very difficult to do if you cut the cord. Instead of changing channels, you are jumping in and out of apps and swapping sources on your TV. It can be annoying but not impossible.

There are work arounds for all of these issues of course. First, grab someones log in so that you can stream games from apps like NBCSN and FOX SPORTS GO. Research and invest in a super strong indoor antenna for your local channels. It may sound hokey in 2015 but if you want your local Sunday NFL games then you’ll definitely need one.

Finally you have to address your internet connection. You’ll want the fastest possible speed you can get and no matter what your cable company tells you, you do have a cap. I haven’t hit it yet but even if I do go over it’s a $10 change. That is still significantly cheaper than a $150 cable bill.

The fact is that you can cut the cord and still watch sports. It’s cumbersome but not as impossible as it was say five years ago. It’s cheaper in the long run but the short term costs and hit you pretty good. The fact remains that true sports fans can now be cord cutters too and it’s is only going to get better.

What To Watch Thurs. 8/6 – Sun. 8/9

All times are Pacific.

Thursday August 6th

Edmonton Eskimos at BC Lions – 7pm ESPN2: Edmonton is the best team in the league right now and they are doing it without their opening day starter at QB. BC has yet to find their stride but you have to believe that it is only a matter of time before former Cal coach Jeff Tedford rights the ship.

Eskimos

Friday August 7th

Toronto Blue Jays at NY Yankees – 4pm MLB.TV: Jays are 4.5 games back of the Yankees. This is a huge series for both teams.

Montreal Alouettes at Ottawa Redblacks – 4:30pm ESPN2: Sold out game in the nations capital. The surprising Redblacks square off with the always exciting (win or lose) Al’s. Apparently Michael Sam will make his pro debut at defensive end for the Al’s.

Baltimore Orioles at LA Angels – 7pm MLB.TV: Orioles are a game behind the Angels in the Wild Card race. Big series out west.

Saturday August 8th

Tottenham vs Manchester United – 4:30am NBCSN: The Premier League is back and this isn’t a terrible way to kick off the season.

Chelsea vs Swansea City – 9:30am NBC: Get a look at the defending champs.

LA Dodgers at Pittsburgh Pirates -1pm FS1: Big series for two potential playoff teams.

Toronto FC vs Sporting KC – 1pm MLS LIVE: Two potential playoff teams meet at BMO Field. Too much talent on the field for this to be boring.

UFC Fight Night – 7pm FS1: Glover Teixeira vs Ovince St. Preaux in the main event from Nashville.

Sunday August 9th

Stoke City vs Liverpool – 7:30am NBCSN: No more Captain Fantastic (Steven Gerrard) for Liverpool. It will be a strange thing to see them on the pitch without that man.

LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders – 1pm ESPN: Seattle never plays well against the Galaxy but at least we get to see Steven Gerrard at his new club (LA).

Winnipeg Blue Bombers at Hamilton Tiger-Cats – 2pm ESPNNEWS: The TiCats are pretty gosh darn good at home but the Bombers always come to play.

NY Red Bulls vs NYCFC – 4pm FS1: Well NYCFC is not very good but the Red Bulls are and this is a game that MLS hopes turns into something as compelling as Manchester United vs Liverpool.

Pittsburgh Steelers vs Minnesota Vikings – 5pm NBC: Good news is is that the NFL is back! Bad news is, so is Cris Collinsworth.

What To Watch Fri. 5/8 -Sun. 5/10

All times are Pacific.

REMOTE-contrast

Friday May 8th

KC Royals at Detroit Tigers – 4pm MLB.TV: Yordano Ventura vs David Price. For those of you who don’t know, this is a solid pitching matchup. It’s also a matchup of two playoff teams from a year ago.

Washington Capitals at NY Rangers – 4pm NBCSN: Caps look to close out the NHL’s best team from the regular season.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls – 5pm ESPN: Game 3 in Chicago with the series tied. Can LeBron James and company steal a game or two in the Madhouse without Kevin Love?

 

Saturday May 9th

Tampa Bay Lightning at Montreal Canadiens – 4pm NBCSN: The Habs look to stave off elimination for one more game. You can bet the Bell Centre in Montreal will be rocking.

Golden State Warriors at Memphis Grizzlies – 5pm ABC: Game 3 in Memphis with the series tied 1-1. Two awesome teams and the newly minted NBA MVP (Warriors Stephen Curry).

FC Dallas vs LA Galaxy – 5:30pm MLS LIVE: LA is only three points behind the division leading Hoops. A fun night in Frisco, Texas should be forthcoming.

 

 

Sunday May 10th

F1 Grand Prix of Spain – 4:30am NBCSN: It’s a little early but always a good race to watch.

Chelsea vs Liverpool – 7:30am NBCSN: One of the last times you’ll see Steven Gerrard in a Liverpool jersey.

NY Red Bulls vs NYCFC – 4pm FS1: It’s the rivalry that MLS has told us about for years. Will it live up to the hype?

NY Rangers at Washington Capitals – 4pm NBCSN: Game 6 in DC. The Caps try again to close out the Rangers. Maybe they won’t have a goal disallowed this time.

Houston Rockets at LA Clippers -5:30pm TNT: Game 4 at the Staples Center. Maybe we will see the following from Clippers owner Steve Ballmer again.

 

The Best Day In Sports. Period.

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It may be a cosmic event or maybe just plain old luck. Either way, Saturday May 2, 2015 is shaping up to be one of the greatest days in sports history. Just about every major professional sport will be represented and then some. The only question is, is it too much?

Mayweather vs Pacquiao

Let’s start with the one off, the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. They won’t actually start fighting until around 8:30pm Pacific standard time (PST) on Saturday at which point they will truly begin to split the estimated $300 million in pay-per-view money. 60-40 to Mayweather of course. It’s the biggest fight boxing has seen since Mayweather took on Oscar De La Hoya. It will probably be the last great matchup for a generation.

Before this of course is a smorgasbord of sporting events.

The 141st running of the Kentucky Derby will take place around 3:25pm PST. It’s the one time a year that a wide spectrum of people care about horse racing and women get to wear big hats.

The events that we are use to seeing this time of year are of course Major League Baseball, Major League Soccer, the NBA Playoffs, NHL Playoffs, and the NFL Draft.

The NFL Draft is the only event where there isn’t any actual sporting activity happening. But this is a football nation and people will be glued to the draft (even the later rounds which will be happening on Saturday). It will be the first time that the Draft has been outside of New York City and the second time that it has been held in the month of May.

Yes, this may go down as the greatest day in sports history. Is it too much though? That’s for you to decide for yourself. There certainly won’t be a lack of options on Saturday that’s for sure. Our advice is to pace yourself and try to find a couple of people to split the $100 Mayweather vs Pacquiao ppv.

Business Decision

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The Baltimore Orioles will host the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday afternoon in an empty stadium. It’s nothing either team did but with the current situation in Charm City, the powers that be came to the conclusion to play a day game instead of a night game with no fans in the stadium. While it may seem odd it isn’t the first time a sporting event has been played in an empty stadium.

Baltimore Riots

Major League Baseball (MLB) faced a similar situation over two decades ago in Los Angeles when the Rodney King riots broke out and shut down the city. The LA Dodgers and Montreal Expos made up the games later in the year with three doubleheaders in three days. The Orioles and White Sox will not have to do that but the Orioles will be a “home team” in Tampa this weekend as Major League Baseball moved the weekend series against the Rays from Baltimore to Tampa.

The empty stadium situation is not unprecedented in sports. UEFA, the governing body of soccer in Europe, has played games in empty stadiums before. In just about every case it was a punishment for racist conduct by a team’s supporters. Most recently CSKA Moscow supporters where locked out of Champions League matches against Manchester City and AS Roma after racist chants in precious Champions League matches. While locking fans out of a stadium is punishment in Europe, it is a matter of safety in Baltimore.

Not everyone agrees with the decision by Major League Baseball but it is their decision none the less. The fact is that baseball is a business. As a business you have to make business decisions while also being mindful of your employees and customers safety. MLB and the Orioles are doing that. Hopefully they nor anyone other league or franchise will have to make similar decisions anytime soon.

 

What To Watch Thurs. 4/9 – Sun. 4/12

All Times Are Pacific.

Thursday April 9th

The Masters 1st Round – Noon ESPN: A tournament unlike any other….and it’s steaming online at themasters.com.

Frozen Four: Nebraska -Omaha vs Providence – 2pm ESPN2: Well since the hardwood Final Four is finished, let’s get on the ice.

Frozen Four: Boston vs North Dakota – 5:30pm ESPN2: Next!

LA Kings at Calgary Flames – 6pm NHL Gamecenter: The Kings need to win out if they want a chance at the playoffs. They have to win this one against a possible playoff opponent.

Portland TrailBlazers at Golden State Warriors – 7:30pm TNT: Two playoff bound teams just tuning up for the post season.

REMOTE-contrast

Friday April 10th

The Masters 2nd Round – Noon ESPN: It’s the Masters. Even if you hate golf you’ll still know who wins this. And it’s only the second round!

NY Islanders at Pittsburgh Penguins – 4pm NHL Network: The Pens need to get their act together if they want to be in the playoffs.

 

Saturday April 11th

The Masters 3rd Round – Noon CBS: The cut is down and now it’s time to get down to business.

San Jose Sharks at LA Kings – Noon NBC: The Kings have to win out and get some help if they want any chance of defending their title. The Sharks would love nothing more than to prevent that from happening.

DC United vs New York Red Bulls – 4pm MLS Live: The top two teams in the East square off. Oh, and they don’t like each other.

Frozen Four Final – 4:30pm ESPN: Let’s find out who is college hockey’s best team!

 

Sunday April 12th

Manchester United vs Manchester City – 7:55am NBCSN: A Manchester Derby on a Sunday morning.

The Masters Final Round – 11am CBS: It’s the final round of the Masters. It’s usually pretty awesome.

Portland Timbers vs Orlando City FC – 2pm ESPN2: Kaka visits the friendly confines of Providence Park. Sure the Timbers Army will make him feel welcome.

LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders – 4pm FS1: Arguably two of the more entertaining teams in all of MLS. Neither is 100% but it’s still worth tuning in for.

Boston Red Sox at NY Yankees – 5:10pm ESPN: Well if you’re going to watch a baseball game this early in the year it might as well be between these two.

America’s Pastime Returns

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Major League Baseball (MLB) is the oldest professional sports league in North America. It opens up another season on Sunday evening with two of their more legendary teams (St Louis Cardinals vs Chicago Cubs) and a lot of questions to answer as far as where it fits in the modern era.

MLB

The fact is that baseball has it’s fair share of issues. From performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) to the speed of the game (they usually average around three hours) to a lack of diversity on and off the field. Despite all of this the average player salary is now over $4 million a year led by LA Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw who will pull in a record $31 million this season.

While PEDs have been a part of every major sport, baseball seems to be at the forefront as far as use goes. It seems that not a season goes by where a big named player is suspended or accused of using PEDs. The speed of the game is something that is being addressed by the league. Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal wrote a great article about the changes MLB is trying in order to speed up the game and appeal to younger fans.

Diversity in the game, whether on the field or in the front office, has been a topic just below the surface for a while now. White players make up some 27% of the players on the field while African American players make up only around 8%. When it comes to the front office, there has yet to be a female general manager in the history of the game. While there are some ground breakers like Kim Ng, there has yet to be a female in the role of General Manager or President of Baseball operations.

Now it is not all bad news for baseball. 2014 was the seventh best year as far as attendance is concerned. There is a new commissioner in Rob Manfreda new face of the sport in Buster Posey, and last year saw the return of a “small market” team to the World Series (Kansas City Royals).

The biggest change in baseball over the last decade has been the widespread adoption of analytics thanks to Michael Lewis’ book ‘Moneyball’. Released in 2003 and debuting on the big screen in 2011, the book made people aware of sabermetrics and how a small market team like the Oakland A’s could compete year after year with the likes of the New York Yankees and their bottomless bucket of money. Big data has become a major part of the sport and something that both the teams and the fans can dive into.

While the game has it’s flaws it is still ‘America’s Pastime’. A game that has been passed from one generation to the next. Each team starts anew with the hope of reaching the postseason and raising that World Series trophy above their heads. So in preparation we recommend the following this weekend; re-read ‘Moneyball’, watch ‘Bull Durham’ and get yourself ready for moments like the one below.

Let’s play ball!