Diary of a Sports Cord Cutter: Carnage and Opportunity

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 5.23.2017


It’s what they call in Washington a ‘True Fact’ that cord cutting is affecting the sports world in a major way. North America’s biggest sport rights holder, ESPN, is front and center in this battle of the cord cutting and the traditional way things have been done.  Subscribers are fleeing at a rapid rate (down 12% since 2010) and ESPN along with the sports leagues are trying to figure out how to stop the bleeding or profit from the change. While the traditional powers are nervous, small leagues and up and coming sports are rejoicing.

ESPN has spent billions on sports rights between the NFL, NBA, MLB, college football and others. To give you an idea of how much they do spend a year, they spend over a billion dollars on the NFL alone and they only get one game a week! With the old cable and satellite model being blown up, the network and the leagues are looking at every option available to them which is partially why ESPN’s parent company, Disney, bought into MLB Advanced Media last summer.

The NFL, MLB, MLS, PGA and NBA are already reaching out in different ways to get their live programing to their fans. Whether it is the NFL cutting a deal with Amazon or MLB and MLS signing deals with Facebook, the sports leagues are already preparing for the day when they see a decrease in the value of their sports rights. Gone are the days of multi-billion dollar deals for the exclusive right to show a sport. In the near future the leagues and big time college conferences will have to spread the costs among several outlets.

ESPN is approaching this transition a little discombobulated. The fact is that live streaming on platforms like Amazon, Facebook and Twitter will not replace the loss of dollars from the traditional cable/satellite/TV world. However, these new platforms are a life saver to niche or relatively new entities like eSports, MMA and others.

ESports were born online and are thriving on platforms like Twitch, YouTube and even Facebook. These OTT platforms are also paying a whole lot less for the sports rights than ESPN, NBCSports and Fox Sports are paying for traditional sports like the NFL and NBA. These new platforms also provide these niche or newer sports the right demographic and a ton of exposure.

What does this mean? A lot more exposure for League or Legends, Overwatch and even the UFC if they play their cards right.

Remember, these niche and newer sports and starting from scratch in a way. An mid eight figure deal for an eSports league or new MMA organization is a windfall for them. The same can be said for a non-power five conference like the Mountain West who floated the idea earlier this year of going to straight OTT model.

The fact is that Disney, Comcast, and Fox are unlikely to retract the amount of cable outlets they have. And if they are unwilling to play these huge amounts for the rights to the NFL, NBA and others then they’ll have to fill the hours on their networks somehow. That could give newer, cheaper sports entities like Riot Games League or Legends or the UFC an opportunity to swoop in provide quality content that pull desirable demos for a reasonable price.

The winds of change are upon the sports networks and leagues. You are already seeing layoffs because of these changes and you are going to see more. But these changes are inevitable and disrupting but not the end all be all. Opportunity does exist for the traditional sports networks and leagues but the have to accept the fact their options may not be as beneficial to them as things were in the past. For the newcomers, get ready for a windfall of money and a lot more exposure. Here’s to hoping that you know how to scale.

The Sunday – Walking, Raising and Amazing

Compiled by Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 1.22.2017

What?

Russell Westbrook was snubbed as a starter for the All-Star team. Shortly thereafter in a game against Golden State, Westbrook clearly had something else on his mind during this travel.

Youth

A lot of collegiate coaches call their players their ‘children’. Partially because there is a lot of teaching to do. Indiana’s coach Tom Crean let some of his players know that showboating at the end of a blowout win was not ok.

Youth can also be something amazing to see.

 

But youth and competitiveness can also lead to some ugly incidents like what happened at the Siena vs Rider game this past week. It got so heated that the opposing coaches were at each others throat. 

So afterwards what do you do? Well one team walked off the court and the other team’s head coach went and had imaginary handshakes.

 

 

Selfies,  Shut Down & Score

 

Extrordinary

If you are going to become the all time goal scoring leader in Manchester United history, you might as well do it with some panache…..and boy did he. Congrats Wayne Rooney.

Fellow Englishman Paul Daley put in the first knockout performance of the year with his flying knee KO of Brennan Ward.

Steph Curry Moment of the Week

To go into the half….

What to Watch Fri. 5/29 – Sun. 5/31

All times are Pacific

Friday May 29th

Tampa Bay Lightning at NY Rangers – 5pm NBCSN: Game seven in New York for a chance to go to the Stanley Cup Final. Yeah, probably a tough ticket to get.

LA Dodgers at St Louis Cardinals – 5:15pm MLB.TV: Two good baseball teams in a great baseball town.

 

Saturday May 30th

FA Cup Final – Noon FOX: Aston Villa vs Arsenal. Last chance for both clubs to walk away with hardware for this season.

Orlando City vs Columbus Crew – 4:30pm MLS LIVE: Not one that jumps off the schedule at you but a solid game.

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks  – 5pm NBC: The second half of the Stanley Cup Final gets decided.

UFC Fight Night – 7pm FS1: Carlos Condit vs Thiago Alves. When these two are healthy (which it’s been a while for both guys) they have been know to put on a show and this one should be no different.

 

Sunday May 31st

Seattle Sounders vs NY Red Bulls – 2pm ESPN2: East meets West in a battle of top teams from each conference.

NE Revolution vs LA Galaxy – 4pm FS1: Rematch of last years MLS Cup. You can bet that the Revs want some payback.

What To Watch Fri. 2/13 – Sun. 2/15

All times are Pacific.

 

Friday February 13th

Arizona Wildcats at Washington Huskies – 6pm ESPN: This is a good basketball game for a Friday night. It’s no gimmie either for the #7 ranked Wildcats.

Boston Bruins at Vancouver Canucks – 7pm NHL GameCenter: Two teams battling to stay in the playoff picture in their respective conferences.

 

Saturday February 14th

Baylor Bears at Kansas Jayhawks – 10am CBS: Not many top 25 match ups but this should be the best of the bunch.

Villanova at Butler – 3pm CBS Sports Network: This is the other top 25 match up worth watching.

Toronto Maple Leafs at Montreal Canadiens – 4pm NHL Network: Well the Leafs aren’t very good this year but the Habs are.

Washington Capitals at LA Kings – 7pm NHL GameCenter: Alex Ovechkin and the Caps head out west to take on the defending Stanley Cup champs.

UFC Fight Night – 7pm FS1: Either Benson Henderson is going to grind out Brandon Thatch for 5 rounds or Thatch catches Henderson early. Take your pick.

 

Sunday February 15th

Pittsburgh Penguins at Chicago Blackhawks – 9:30am NBC: It’s on national TV for a reason. You get to see some of the biggest names in the NHL.

Tampa Bay Lightning at San Jose Sharks – 5pm NHL GameCenter: The Lightning hit that tough west coast swing coming off two hard fought games against Nashville and St Louis.

 

What To Watch Fri. 1/30- Sun. 2/1

All times are Pacific

Friday January 30th

Portland TrailBlazers at Atlanta Hawks – 4:30pm NBA League Pass: The Hawks have been unreal but the Blazers are no joke themselves.

Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks – 7pm NHL GameCenter: The Blackhawks head west to take on the best team in the NHL as far as points are concerned.

 

Saturday January 31st

Chelsea vs Manchester City – 8:30am NBC: Five points separate Chelsea and Manchester City at the top of the Premier League. Yeah, it’s a big game.

Washington Capitals at Montreal Canadiens – 10am NHL Network: Two quality teams in one of the best venues in all of hockey.

North Carolina at Louisville – 1pm ESPN: It was fun when they played a few weeks ago. This should be too.

Los Angeles Kings at Boston Bruins – 4pm NHL Network: An east coast vs west coast showdown.

Duke at Virginia – 4pm ESPN: Duke is ranked in the top 5 but have to have this game is they want any shot of winning the ACC regular season title. UVA looks to keep their unbeaten season alive.

LA Clippers at San Antonio Spurs – 6pm ESPN: Lob City heads deep into the heart of Texas to take on the defending champs.

UFC 183: Silva vs Diaz – 7pm PPV: As long as Nick Diaz shows up we should have a fun fight. Even a 39 year old Anderson Silva coming off an extended layoff is something to marvel at.

 

 

Sunday February 1st

St Louis Blues at Washington Capitals – 10am NBCSN: The Blues have to be the most underrated team in the NHL. See how good they really are. Tough back to back stretch for the Caps too.

Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins – 11am NHL GameCenter: Predators have been one of the best teams in the NHL this season. Pittsburgh is a tough place to steal three points though.

Super Bowl XLIX – Seattle Seahawks vs New England Patriots – 3:30pm NBC: This should be an amazing game. We did think that last year too.

What To Watch Sat. 3/22-Sun. 3/23

Be advised, March Madness is in full swing. See it on TV and online throughout the weekend via CBS and Turner.

Saturday March 22nd

Chelsea vs Arsenal – 5:45am NBCSN: All aboard for some top flight soccer on a Saturday morning!

Tampa Bay Lightning @ Pittsburgh Penguins – 10am NHLN:  If ice, sticks and some of the world’s best players is more your thing then the NHL Network has you set on Saturday morning.

Montreal Canadiens @ Toronto Maple Leafs – 4pm NHLN: It’s the Habs vs the Leafs. They are both in playoff contention at the end of March. You’re welcome.

LA Galaxy @ Real Salt Lake – 1pm NBCSN: RSL has been nothing but good over the last four or five years. But so have the Galaxy. It’s a display of some of the leagues best players and two teams that don’t seem to like each other very much.

San Jose Earthquakes @ Sporting KC – 5:30pm MLS LIVE: Both teams are coming off of tough Champions League losses during the week. SKC is a tough place to play but San Jose is a tough team. Or as they say in Quakes territory, ‘Goonies never say die!’

Sunday March 23rd

St. Louis Blues @ Pittsburgh Penguins – 10am NHLN: Two of the best teams in the east face off in Pittsburgh.

Real Madrid  v Barcelona – Noon beIN Sports: El Clasico is on. Messi, Ronaldo, Bale, Fabregas and then some. See two of the best clubs square off with some of the best players on the planet.

Dan Henderson vs Shogun Rua – 4pm FS1: The last fight between the two was, in some circles, the best MMA fight…ever. So don’t miss rounds 6-10.

What to Watch Sat. 2/1-Mon. 2/3

Saturday February 2nd

Ohio State @ Wisconsin – 9am ESPN: Both teams need this win in probably the toughest conference in college basketball.

Michigan State @ Georgetown – Noon FOX Sports 1: A rare February out of conference game for both teams. G’town isn’t what it was but a win against a top 10 team could do wonders for their tourney chances.

Philadelphia Flyers at Los Angeles Kings – 1pm NHLN:  Flyers on a West Coast road swing with a matinee in LA. Could be a battle of styles.

Duke at Syracuse – 3:30pm ESPN: It’s big game and now it’s a big conference game. Two legendary coaches in primetime. The Carrier Dome will be one rocking joint.

UFC 169 – 7pm PPV: Two title fights and then two heavyweights who both need a win. Both champions, Renan Barao and Jose Aldo have ridiculous unbeaten streaks going on but if anyone stands a chance it’s Urijah Faber and Ricardo Lamas.

Sunday February 3rd

Michigan @ Indiana – 10am CBS: A little Big 10 basketball as an appetizer for the Super Bowl.

Seattle Seahawks vs Denver Broncos – 3:30pm FOX: Don’t be fooled with the right hour pre game FOX is putting on. Either way, enough story lines in this game to write a best seller. Weather shouldn’t be a factor, enjoy.

Monday February 4th

Chelsea @ Manchester City – Noon NBCSN: A Super Bowl desert. Chelsea wins and they tie Man City for first place (barring an Arsenal draw or loss).

Defining “Great”

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Certain terms and phrases are thrown around in the sports hemisphere without out any structure or foundation. ‘Of all time’, ‘in history’, ‘the best’ and ‘great’ or ‘greatest’. While the term ‘great’ can be thrown out prematurely it can also be thrown out appropriately. This past weekend the term seemed to raise it’s head more than a few times.

Sunday night football and Cris Collinsworth throws out the term at towards the end of the 2nd qtr calling both Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck ‘great’. He didn’t say it specifically about each QB, but he implied it. ‘Great quarterbacks’ was the exact term. Is Luck a ‘great’ NFL QB? No doubt he’s good but ‘great’? He’s not even through his second season. Manning, most would agree that he is either ‘great’ or on the cusp of being ‘great’. Most would say that there are only a few who have been ‘great’ at the position. Those would probably include Joe Montana and John Elway among others.

Gilbert Melendez and Diego Sanchez had a very memorable fight on Saturday night at UFC 166. Some called it the ‘greatest fight’ they’ve ever seen. Others called the entire card the ‘greatest’ in UFC history. Why?
Is it the amount of finishes that were on the card (eight) or something else. Most would point to the fact that just about every fight was exciting regardless if it was a finish or not.

Almost two years ago people called the Shogun Rua vs Dan Henderson fight the ‘greatest’. A week before that was Benson Henderson vs Clay Guida.

There many ‘great’ fights just like there are many ‘great’ quarterbacks. But what makes someone or something ‘great’? Is it how many trophies they win? How many Super Bowls? How many punches they delivered vs how many they took? How long their winning streak was?

It is a combination of things boiled down to one simple point, standard. ‘Great’ can be associated to someone if they redefine they way we look at the sport, position or profession. They set the standard to which others will compare and judge.

Peyton Manning is a good example. He has the trophies to prove his worth but also set the standard at which others will be judged in how he prepares and operates on the field of play.

The Melendez vs Sanchez fight is ‘great’ because we will become the standard which other fights will be measured. The Chicago Bulls team of the 1995-1996 season and the 1989 San Francisco 49ers teams are a standard on their respective sports arenas.

‘Great’ is a term we should use. Just do not use it lightly.

What To Watch For

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

This weekend brings a lot of intriguing match ups from the NFL to MLB to Boxing. Here is a look at what you should be watching this weekend. To alleviate some of your anxiety about how you’ll get it all in we made a schedule, based on West Coast time of course. You may want to hit the grocery store now since you may not have time to over the next 60 hours.

Friday Sept. 13th

5pm-Regional: A’s at Rangers (It’s a battle for the AL West. Should be a good series.)

6pm-ESPN3: Hamilton at Calgary (Yeah we’re getting some CFL action in on a Friday night.)

7:25pm-NBCSN: Real Salt Lake @ Seattle (Seattle is 2 points back of 1st place RSL.)

7:30pm-Regional: SF Giants @ LA Dodgers (The game has no playoff implications except to get the Dodgers one step closer to the NL West crown. However, the pitching match up is great with the Giants Madison Bumgarner going against Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.)

6pm-Spike & AxsTV: MMA (If you need your fight fix check out either Bellator or a little later Legacy FC.)

Saturday Sept. 14th

9am-CBSSN: Stanford at Army and UCLA at Nebraska (Pac-12 teams get early kick offs. While UCLA should out score Nebraska, don’t be surprised if Stanford has some trouble early against Army.)

12:30pm-CBS: Alabama at Texas A&M (This week’s ‘game of the century’.)

3pm-BigTenNetwork: Washington at Illinois (Washington is good but this may be closer than the experts think.)

4pm-ESPN & FOX: Vandy at South Carolina and Ohio St at Cal (Both of these should be worth watching for totally different reasons.)

7:30pm-ESPN: Wisconsin at Arizona St (Neither team has given up a point this season.)

7:30pm-MLSLIVE: Vancouver at San Jose (Both teams are fighting to remain in the  playoff picture.)

8:45pm-ish-PPV: Mayweather v Canelo (It’s Floyd Mayweather….you usually end up watching.)

Sunday Sept. 15

If you’ve recovered from Friday and Saturday’s binge Sunday is a bit lighter.

1:30pm-CBS: Denver at New York (It’s Manning Bowl III.)

5:00pm-ESPN: New York at Boston (If you need a baseball fix, the Yankees vs Red Sox on Sunday Night Baseball is the way to go.)

5:45pm-NBC: San Francisco at Seattle (It’s really the only game worth making an appointment for. Arguably the two best teams in the NFC and it’s Harbaugh vs Carroll.)

 

When It All Goes Wrong Again

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

No one likes to lose especially in sports. Those in sports love to compete plain and simple. Whether it’s on the field, on the ice or in the Octagon. Being a competitor means two things, you like to win and you hate to lose.

The July 4th weekend saw a lot of streaks come to an end and some bad ones continue. Competitors who have been so use to winning finally lost. UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva lost his belt to the undefeated Chris Weidman. It’s the first loss for Silva in his 17 fight UFC career and his first since January 2006.

A streak of a lesser note came to end in MLS where the Portland Timbers lost to the Columbus Crew 1-0. This ended a 15 game unbeaten streak for the Timbers who have been the surprise team of MLS so far this year.

On a bad continuing note, the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants continued their losing ways. They have not won a series since mid May and since June 1st they are 11-25.

Winning is contagious but so is losing. When things are going well, they go really well and vice versa. Baseballs find the gaps, punches find their mark, and passes are crisper. But all streaks eventually come to an end and bad streaks can begin if you’re not careful.

The Timbers and Giants have immediate opportunities to turn it around while Silva will have to wait a while for another chance at the first man to defeat him in over 7 years.