They Are Not Role Models Nor Should They Be

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


While the media (social and otherwise) chimes in and/or freaks out about Ryan Lochte and the swimming funky bunch and their robbery/non robbery/guns drawn/payoff story, it’s important to remember that the average age of the Olympians is 26 years old. That doesn’t excuse moronic behavior by any means but it should, in some small way, give people pause before putting these athletes on pedestals that they can’t in anyway balance on.

Breaking news: drunk Americans do dumb things while abroad. 

Ryan LochteThe Lochte story isn’t new. Back at the Seoul games in 1988, two US Swimmers were arrested for stealing a marble lion head from a hotel. Of course we are all aware of Michael Phelps transgressions outside of the games but somehow NBC spun that into story of redemption. The fact is that things like this are going to happen even thought they shouldn’t. And guess what? They are going to happen again.

Why do they happen? Well you put a bunch of youngsters in high pressure situations that they have been training for for years, put them on a pedestal and then it’s done. The moment has passed. The people at NBC have stopped calling you. Yeah, these folks are  going to blow off steam and there is a helluva lot of it. Does it excuse their behavior? No. But it’s not like they are the first ones to do something stupid while overseas.

Along the same lines, it’s also why they are handing out bags of condoms to athletes and tinder usage is through the roof.

In Lochte’s case, he should know better. He is 32 years old and unless you are a member of congress, you shouldn’t be acting like this.

NBC made these athletes role models to sell ad’s. Money which non of these athletes see. Not many of them asked to be on this pedestal to begin with. So everyone, take a breath along with a step back and relax.

The Fear Of The New

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

One thing that sports organizations don’t well is embrace new technology. Not many companies do for that matter. Most of the time companies have this knee jerk reaction to new technologies or methodologies and that reaction usually involves lawyers. This is the case with Periscope (and a similar service called Meerkat). Instead of freaking out they should be generating ideas on how to integrate this application as opposed to trying to shut it down.

Periscope at work

The Mayweather v Pacquiao fight has brought in close to $500 million. That’s half a billion dollars which is revenue than some publicly traded companies generate in a year. Yet the winner of the fight may have been Periscope. Not only was it it’s coming out party but the promoters of the fight are threatening legal action which always means you did something right.

While Periscope may seem like a threat on the surface it really isn’t much of one. So some people watched the fight through the app and didn’t pay for it. That number didn’t effect the overall number of buys (which was around 4.4 million) and those people were either at the fight or watching the fight where someone had already paid for it.

While Periscope is a very cool app, it still lacks the video and audio quality that an HD broadcast can deliver. Not to mention the fact that you are relying on someone on the other end to have a steady hand while shooting a TV screen or being at the event.

The PGA and NHL have already banned it’s use. The PGA went as far as pulling the credentials of prominent Golf blogger Stephanie Wei then later streamed content through their Periscope PGA account (read Stephanie’s blog post here). The NHL has banned the use in NHL arenas ‘before, during and after the game’. Oh, the NHL, several of their teams and the owner of their American broadcasting rights (NBC) all have their own Periscope accounts.

Really?

First, if you make a half billion dollars on a fight that went the distance and then it is revealed afterward that one of the fighters had an injured shoulder….you’re not going to find a whole lot of sympathy in the court of public opinion. Second, pulling the credentials of a popular blogger in a slowly dying sport, not the kind of promotion you’re looking for. Besides, she made a conscious effort not to show anything that may have been used in the national broadcast.

Is Periscope and Meerkat a threat? Not really. It’s a video version of Twitter which is why Twitter owns it. The fact is people will watch a sporting event on their iPhone however the quality has to be there and you are not going to get solid quality watching from someone shooting a TV screen on their iPhone.

Are their uses for this technology, yes! Most of them we haven’t even thought of yet so why take drastic steps now to limit the technology? Let it grow, support it and find out how it can help your business vs trying to play whack-a-mole. As far as the ‘piracy’ aspect is concerned, how about not charging a $100 for a pay-per-view? How bout charging half that and making up the difference in volume? It was, after all, the ‘Fight of the Century’.

Periscope and Meerkat are here to stay. How they evolve is the question. That evolution should not be left to entities that see it as a threat. If that were the case then we wouldn’t have airplanes or the internet. Give these technologies a chance to grow and see how they can help vs hurt sports.

‘Change is inevitable, growth is optional’

 

Super Bowl Live Stream: Looks Great But Nothing Innovative

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It’s 2015 and you can watch the Super Bowl on just about any device you wanted to. Streaming technology has gotten to a place where people now expect great quality. While all this should be expected, what is new is the fact that you can watch the game without confirming your cable or satellite subscription. 

Super Bowl 49  Live Stream

As you can imagine, the video stream did some big numbers as Streaming Media’s EVP Dan Rayburn tweeted out after the game.

Dan Rayburn Tweet about live stream

Even with that many people, the stream quality was top notch. While this is a lot of people, it is well behind the 5.3 million who watched the USA vs Belgium World Cup match this past summer.

The Super Bowl is a free, over the air event. It would make sense that if the event was streamed (which is was) and that anyone would be able to watch the game online.  NBC thought so too and did not require you to have a cable or satellite subscription to watch the game through NBCSports.com which was a first.

NBC didn’t take full advantage of the live stream though.

There was only a stream of the game. There wasn’t a ’22’ angle or a ‘skycam’ angle. The experience lacked in a lot of ways. They could have done a lot more like ESPN did during the College Football National Championship game but chose not to.

Not only was it a great Super Bowl but it was also a well executed one by NBC. The live stream was of quality, was stable and served the cord cutters. While NBC could have done more with the medium, it at least allowed fans to watch a great event for free.

Great On Air But Terrible Online

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Without a doubt ESPN’s 30 for 30 series is some of the best storytelling/entertainment for sports fans on TV. Problem is that if you miss one and did not DVR it then watching it online is not a user friendly experience.

Boz

If you haven’t seen one of the many ESPN 30 for 30’s then you are missing out. They are creative, insightful and very entertaining. They cover a wide variety of subjects like the University of Miami football team to the earthquake that postponed the World Series. If you missed the episode on TV then watching it online becomes a real challenge.

The website for 30 for 30 is pretty. It has a summary of every episode, comments and a nice big image. What it doesn’t have is video. Yes they may have one or two but no archive. You have to do a search and maybe you will find the an episode on YouTube or on ESPN’s website buried somewhere beyond comprehension. Pretty much they’re saying, ‘here is this awesome feature we did and here is what it’s about but go watch it on TV.’ It’s a backwards way of thinking.This is backward thinking creates a bad online user experience and negates all of the online claims that ESPN makes with every PR release.

30 for 30 VIDEO

ESPN needs to make the 30 for 30 more accessible for online viewing. It can do this in two ways: First, build out the YouTube page. The current versions are not what we’d expect from ESPN. Second, build out the 30 for 30 site itself. Add video and build and searchable archive. Do it now before the series backlog becomes too big of a mountain to climb and you cannot do something truly innovative.

30 for 30 on YouTube

ESPN my be the 800lb gorilla in sports but it is vulnerable when it rests on it’s laurels. Not providing replays of original features like 30 for 30 online and making it easy to find shows that it is resting on its laurels. It also provides competitors like NBC and FOX avenues to start chipping away at ESPN’s lead. ESPN needs to actually get on the new media train and stop with the lip service.

There’s a Subscription For That

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Every game of the NBA Finals will be televised on ABC which is available without a cable or satellite subscription. Five of the seven games of the Stanley Cup Final will be broadcast on NBC which is also available without a cable or satellite subscription. Does it matter anymore if a game is televised on broadcast or cable/satellite? Yes and not for the reasons you think.

The Finals

Even with the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup Final available on over-the-air television channels, you still need either an internet provider subscription or a cable/satellite subscription in order to watch online. Yes. Even though the games are available over-the-air for FREE, you have to pay somebody to watch on your laptop or tablet.

This is not new. NBC does this during the Olympics and while the number of people who don’t pay for either a cable/satellite or internet subscription is small it is still a point of concern.

Why should you have to have a subscription if the game is on FREE TV? That’s almost like saying, ‘well you have to have a monitor in order to watch the game so you have to type in the serial number on the TV before you can watch.’

Just because you have a cable/satellite and/or an internet subscription doesn’t even guarantee you the ability to watch a game online. It all depends on the provider and the network. So if DirecTV doesn’t have an online agreement with ESPN then good luck watching something on the much promoted Watch ESPN app.

If you go back a decade ago when streaming live sports was just getting up and running, you could watch just about anything without so much as a log-in. ESPN Gameplan was free if you were watching online but almost $100 to watch on television.

Last season though, it got to the point that if a college football game is being shown on any of ESPN networks you cannot watch it online at all.

What about the fans? What about the promise of watching anything you want, anywhere you want on any device? You almost can. Just make sure you have a cable or satellite subscription.

 

 

 

What to Watch Fri. 5/23 – Mon. 5/26

Friday May 23rd

Sporting KC vs Toronto FC – 5:30pm MLS LIVE (Free Stream on MLSsoccer.com): Yeah there is no Michael Bradley, Graham Zusi or Matt Besler. However there is still Jermaine Defoe, Dom Dwyer and Claudio Bieler.

Saturday May 24th

Champions League Final – 11:30am FOX: The All-Star team that is Real Madrid will face off against Madrid neighbor and La Liga Champs Atletico Madrid. You’re welcome.

Seattle Sounders vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 4pm MLS Live: A Cascadia Cup match up is always fun to watch.

New England Revolution vs DC United – 4:30pm MLS Live: Battle of two of the top teams in the East. Who saw that coming?

Chicago Blackhawks @ LA Kings – 5pm NBC: Game 3 in LA. ‘Nuff said.

Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat – 5:30pm ESPN: Paul George may or may not play for the Pacers. Without him it could be tough to steal a win in Miami.

Sunday May 25th (RACE DAY!)

F1 in Monaco – 5am NBC: Start the day with one of the coolest races in the World as Formula 1 heads to Monaco.

Indianapolis 500 – 9am ABC: It’s tradition like burgers on the grill this time of year. Indy gets center stage for a few hours.

Coca-Cola 600 – 3pm FOX: Finish off the race day with some NASCAR. See if Kurt Busch can complete the ‘Double’.

Montreal Canadiens @ NY Rangers – 5pm NBCSN: If the Canadiens can steal this game then this series could go the full 7.

Monday May 26th

NY Yankees @ St Louis Cardinals – 1pm ESPN: Memorial Day is for BBQ’s and baseball. Two of the most historic clubs in MLB history get center stage.

Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat – 5:30pm ESPN: This is probably going to be the best series in the NBA Playoffs this year.

Chicago Blackhawks @ LA Kings – 6pm NBCSN: The last two Stanley Cup Champs head into Game 4.

 

 

What to Watch For This Weekend

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Thursday Sept. 26

5:30pm-NFL Network: Rams @ 49ers (Both teams really need a win and there is a lot of adversity for the 49ers right now not to mention an offense that has only scored 10 points in the last 2 games.)

Friday Sept. 27

5:25pm-NBCSN: Philadelphia @ Sporting KC (Sporting is in the Playoffs and Philly is on the outside looking in. Philly needs this bad.)

Saturday Sept. 28

4:45am-NBCSN: Chelsea @ Tottenham (It’s a good early season matchup. Chelsea is not looking all that great and Spurs look to stay unbeaten.)

9:00am-ABC: South Carolina @ UCF (A surprisingly tough out of conference road game for the Gamecocks. UCF is no joke. Most of the experts are pointing to this as a possible upset.)

9:00am-ESPN2: Northern Illinois @ Purdue (Could Purdue be NIU’s second Big Ten victim this year?)

12:30pm-CBS: LSU @ Georgia (Watch this game. It will not suck.)

5:00pm-ESPN3: Calgary @ Hamilton (Calgary had Hamilton’s number two weeks ago but now have to travel east and rebound from a heartbreaking loss last week to Toronto.)

3:30pm-ESPN: Ole Miss @ Alabama (Another upset alert game. Bama is not the same team they were a year ago and Ole Miss is much improved.)

4:00pm- FOX: Arizona @ Washington (There could be a 100 points total in this game.)

5:00pm-ABC: Wisconsin @ Ohio St (An actual game for Ohio St.)

5:30pm- Regional: Montreal @ Chicago (Chicago can make a run at the playoffs again but they have to get past Montreal who sits 6 points ahead of them.)

7:30pm-ESPN2: USC @ Arizona St (Lane Kiffin takes the underperforming Trojans into the desert to face a pretty solid Sun Devil team that is coming off a loss.)

Sunday Sept. 29

10:00am-FOX: Seahawks @ Texans: Probably the best team in the league goes on the road to face a possible Super Bowl contender.)

12:50pm-NBC: LA Galaxy @ Portland: Big NBC heads to the Rose City and future playoff teams square off in front of the Timbers Army. If you want to know what a soccer crowd looks and sounds like, watch this match.

5:20pm-NBC Patriots @ Falcons: Can Tom Brady take this young group of receivers and get past the Falcons in the dome? Only one way to find out.

The Fans Came Back to the NHL. Sort of.

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

With the 2nd round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs rapidly approaching we thought it would be a good time to look and see if the fans came back to the NHL. There was lot of concern in January when the lockout shortened season got underway that the fans would not return but it appears that those fears where all for not.

Many teams enticed fans to return with special promotions as we pointed out in a post earlier this year. Now we have some actual numbers to back up the consensus out there that hockey really is back, especially locally. According to Sports Media Watch some big hockey towns like Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, and New York have seen fans return to their TV’s in droves. NBC Sports Network has also seen an increase in it’s ratings with seven of the eight highest rated games coming this season.

Attendance appears to not have suffered as it was once feared. While nothing can make up for the business that was lost last fall when the lockout was in full swing, fans do appear to have returned.

It’s not all wine and roses however. NBC has seen a decline and surprisingly enough the Boston Bruins 1st round playoff battle against the Toronto Maple Leafs is down in the ratings compared to a year ago. That’s right, the Bruins TV partner NESN has seen a decline in the TV ratings.

There is still a long way to go for the NHL. The Phoenix Coyotes are still run by the league, Vancouver and Montreal were knocked out in the 1st round of the playoffs (not much the league can do about that though) and there is now the extraordinary challenge of putting on a hockey game outside in LA.

That’s right, the LA Kings will play the Anaheim Ducks outside at Dodger stadium next January. It’s one of several outdoor games planned for next season in the newly created Stadium Series. These stadium games do well ratings wise and attendance wise. It’s another way the NHL is trying to get fans back to hockey. Although, as we pointed out earlier, hockey fans apparently haven’t gone anywhere.