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Where Will In-Market Streaming Take Sports?

Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Thursday, July 2, 2009

This week the SportsBusiness Journal reported that Major League Baseball’s Commissioner, Bud Selig, sent a memo to all 30 teams outlining details for live in-market streaming in response to new deals from the New York Yankees and San Diego Padres. Selig detailed that revenue from such deals would be split between MLB Advanced Media and local interests.

While each streaming deal will be different, in large part because of how the local half of the revenue is divided, Selig noted “the same relative terms” will be used in all future in-market streaming agreements.

MLB’s acceptance of live in-market streaming will revolutionize the way we watch sports the same way Hulu has changed how we watch television.

Thanks to Hulu there is no reason to be a cable/satellite subscriber. South Park is free online, so why should I pay for Comedy Central? Ditto for viewers of FX’s Rescue Me, MTV’s The Real World, USA’s Burn Notice, and hundreds of other shows streaming free online and with limited commercial interruption. The same could hold true for sports.

All mediums are merging with the internet and the expected progress is that televisions will be wired to the internet over traditional cable and satellite hook-ups. Leagues and teams could then bypass network mediators to sell their games directly to consumers the same way Twitter bypasses traditional media to report news.

Wouldn’t some out-of-market subscribers to league packages rather pay for just their team? How many YES Network subscriptions would be cancelled if fans could pay less for just Yankees games? Is it too presumptuous to think that buffet-style subscriptions could be more profitable?

Of course all this is just speculation.

If leagues began to sell directly to individuals over networks they could be taken to court for violating antitrust laws. More importantly, the economics of selling directly to the consumer may not be fiscally sound.

What need not be speculated is how important this is for the future of sports broadcasts.


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It Ain’t Sosa

Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sammy Sosa in Congress - March 17, 2005

Sammy Sosa in Congress - March 17, 2005

Yesterday it was reported in the New York Times that Sammy Sosa tested positive for PEDs in 2003. Media members keep throwing out Sosa’s 2005 Congressional quote:

I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs. I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything.

Regardless of your take on any drug, he very well could have been telling the truth.

On March 17, 2005 Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mark McGwire took the stand and answered questions alongside their Judas, Jose Canseco. Nearly a month earlier Canseco published Juiced: Wild Times, ‘Rampant Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big.

Sosa was not listed as one of the many users Canseco named but wrote:

I can’t say for a fact he took steroids — but he gained 30 pounds just like that — you could see the bloating in his face and neck. It seemed so obvious. It was a joke.

At the time of the Congressional Hearing there were no laws or rules against any drugs or narcotics in Major League Baseball.

Regardless of if Sosa took the drugs is irrelevant. He need now either affirm or refute these recent allegations. If he did use drugs of any kind he should admit to it but maintain that there were no guidelines for drug use in the MLB at the time. He did not lie.

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Posted by GM/VP of Fan Operations on Monday, May 18, 2009

ShaqensteinLike every other social networking site, people continue to wonder how Twitter will be monetized. While Twitter may continue to find difficulty creating revenue, advertisers and athletes could develop a working relationship where their brands are marketed to their followers each day.

For those of us that spent Sunday watching the NBA playoffs, we saw one commercial that featured “Shaqenstein,” an advertisement starring Shaquille O’Neal and Ben Stein for Comcast and its new deal for an HBO service. While Comcast likely reached many consumers through advertising with the NBA on TNT, it could have reached over a million more fans that are directly connected to, and are a fan of, Shaq.

THE_REAL_SHAQ is Shaquille O’Neal’s Twitter page and he is followed by over a million users. An opportunity was missed by Comcast to reach these prospects by having Shaq endorse the commercial right on his page. The closest he came was a TwitPic presumably taken from the filming and posted on April 16th. A more effective means of advertising would have been Comcast asking Shaq to tell his fans to check-out the commercial he just made and link to the video.

Twitter is great for self-promotion, and with the athletes now on board, advertisers should use the medium to market directly to people that have an interest in the star. Twitter is used by many as a means of personal branding, that brand can then be used to promote other brands. This model will create more promotional opportunities for athletes and help advertisers connect with prospects that are likely to pay attention.

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