Acting On The Data

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 10.1.2016

Dustin Johnson finally broke through in 2016. After years of finishing second or third he finally won a major and was the 2016 PGA of America Player of the Year.  It wasn’t a new coach or club but use of analytics that apparently made the difference.

dustin-johnsonAccording to an article by GeekWire.com, Johnson’s use of Trackman helped him improve his wedge game from 53rd to 4th among those on tour. That’s a huge jump and it was made because Johnson was exposed to the data and then acted upon it.

This is important not just for athletes but for everyone. Finding the data and analyzing it are steps one and two. But it is step three, what to do about it, is the step that most people screw up on. Johnson didn’t.

Johnson had been so close so many times in major tournaments that it would have been easy for him to pass it off as ‘bad luck’ or ‘it’s not your day’ but he didn’t. Being the competitor that he is, he worked at that part of his game to the point that it put him over the top and made him the 2016 PGA of America Player of the Year.

Golf is in the midst of a youth movement. Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Rickie Fowler, Bubba Watson, Jason Day and Jordan Spieth among others are all under 30. They have come up in a time of massive amounts of instant data ranging from the angle of their swing to information about their health. Acting on that data is proving to be the tipping point between winning a major and having a top 10 finish. That difference is a difference in millions of dollars.

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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’

 

Not Mastering their Domain

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

The Masters is arguably the biggest golfing event of the year. Like March Madness, it is one of the sporting events that crosses over with sports fans and bleeds into the business day during it’s first 2 rounds. The Masters, like March Madness, makes everything available online but The Masters waits to air content on TV.

The Masters

When The Masters started it was immediately available to watch at masters.com. The same content was not available on TV even though DirecTV had been advertising 8 channels of coverage. DirecTV did not begin broadcasting golf until 3pm Eastern when ESPN began their coverage. Golf’s biggest star, Tiger Woods, had already teed off and was several holes into his round by the time The Masters was available on TV. Doesn’t really make a lot of sense especially when you consider that The Masters is not an official PGA event. It is by invitation only. The Masters sells it’s own advertising and makes it’s own TV deals. In other words, they can almost do as they please.

The Masters has limited commercial time. They do have some massive sponsors though in AT&T, ExxonMobile and IBM. One would think that showing more golf would drive up the viewership and the price for ads. The have very subtle and elegant ads online so you know they have thought about this. The revenue on TV vs online is substantial so why not start the broadcast on TV at the same time as online?

Part of the reason maybe the broadcasters themselves. When they have pre and post shows they can sell ad time during this and they get to keep it all. As mush as we hate to hear the so called ‘experts’ yap and over analyze we’re probably stuck with it for now.

The Masters does make the entire event available on virtually every device you can think of so the fans can watch when they want and where they want. Yet The Masters doesn’t go far enough. It doesn’t push the envelope. It is in a position where it has enough credibility to be truly innovative and dictate to the TV folks that every second of every round has live coverage. This is truly a unique position. Time will tell if they ever take advantage of it. Considering that only last August did they finally extend memberships to women I wouldn’t hold my breath.