Backwards we go: cable subscription required for non-CBS games on NCAA Tournament app

For a while there, it felt like the future. All it took was one incredibly-reasonable payment and you could have access to every single NCAA Tournament game, and you could watch them on your computer or your tablet or your phone. It was remarkable: one of the biggest sporting events of the year had the most forward-thinking broadcast model. Above all, it felt like an inspiring example of the sports industry as a whole moving forward.

As it turns out, it was too good to last:

Unlike last year, when iOS viewers could make a $3.99 in-app purchase to watch all 67 games, for 2013 they are required to authenticate with their pay-tv provider logins before they can watch games that air on TBS, TNT and truTV. Games aired on CBS will not need authentication. However, users will get a four-hour 'preview' window to watch games without authenticating. Live streaming will be available over 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi.

My first thought: "OH COME ON—WHY?!?!" But then I calmed slightly, my second: "But seriously. Why?"

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A la carte digital content could've been a powerful weapon in FOX Sports 1's battle with ESPN

For as long as the recently-announced FOX Sports 1 has even been rumored to exist, it's been widely assumed its ultimate success would be determined by one thing: can it topple ESPN? Ad spending, subscriber count and ratings are all mile-markers along the road to the eventual goal of providing a viable alternative to ESPN and, in an ideal world, supplanting it.

In the press release accompanying the extravagant event announcing the channel—which joins CBS and NBC in the competition to challenge ESPN—Fox Sorts Media Group co-President and co-Chief Operating Officer Eric Shanks was as clear as as one could be in a medium as manufactured as this one. Emphasis is my own.

Fans are ready for an alternative to the establishment, and our goal for FS1 is to provide the best in-game experience possible, complemented by informative news, entertaining studio shows and provocative original programming.”

Though what I'm most interested in here isn't the channel as a whole, but a particular product that's launching along with it—one that could've been much more and sent The WorldWide Leader a message it couldn't ignore. I'm referring to FOX Sports Go, mentioned way down in the very last paragraph of the press release. Again, emphasis added:

 

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NCAA figures out what everyone else knows: Twitter improves television viewership

I don't know why it took them this long.

Yes, Twitter can drive higher television ratings and increased fan engagement. For this reason, the NCAA has rescinded its previously-instated limits on how many times members of the press can tweet during a live sporting event.

Though there are other reasons for the change—including enforceability—the biggest one is its impact on broadcast viewership. See, the restrictions were put in place so those tweeting updates wouldn't be infringing on broadcasters' exclusive rights to reproduce depictions of the game. Well, the broadcasters wised up and realized they didn't at all. Taylor Soper of GeekWire has the story

 "The NCAA (agreed) that broadcast rights holders would actually love to have people Tweeting about the game,” [Associated Press Sports Editors President Bruce Ahern] said. “That’s not going to get people to turn the TV off. That’s going to get people to watch the game and actually turn the TV on. [Tweeting] is a good thing for the broadcast partner."

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Everyone knows about ATDHE.NET, right? Watch live sports online for free

ESPN recently released a study saying that everyone is really overreacting to the notion that people might start going without cable television. According to their study, only 0.28% of American households have cut their cable cords in the past three months. This seems lower than it should be.

Plain and simple, I watch sports as much as anyone I know and I've gotten by just fine for more than a year without paying for cable. That said, I don't not pay for TV. Of the things I pay for, there's MLB.tv, NBA League Pass Broadband and an XBox Live subscription so I can watch ESPN3. I get what I want (aside from in-market MLB games), and nothing I don't. Taking all that away one can see quite a lot of sports for free.

"How?" you ask: ATDHE.net.

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FOX's in-game music: what the hell was that?

Part of my job at LexBlog, a company that works with lawyers and law firms on social media, includes communicating with attorneys on blog designs. As anyone who's worked in web design knows, it's not the easiest process. I've never designed a site myself, but simply managed the project and acted as an intermediary between our creative team and the client. It's an odd process because, while they are coming to you for your expertise, they also have an idea of what they want. Attorneys, being very strong-willed, often times end up getting what they want. So, often times, ideas will be pushed that aren't necessarily the best ideas, or ones with even a consensus agreement behind them, but just because of certain interpersonal dynamics at play.

Now, I've seen some odd ideas and requests, often-times derived from things viewed on other sites. That said, none of ideas I've come across were as bizarre and unnecessary as FOX's decision to add in-game music to their Seahawks - 49ers broadcast. Why do I relate the two? Because running cheesy over-dramaticized music came out of nowhere and the over/under on how many people thought was a good idea is right at 1.5. This, as I said, is much worse than anything I've seen.

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MLB.tv, NBA League Pass Broadband leaving more than money on table with local blackouts

I've been to approximately 20 Mariners games so far this year and as much the hydroplane races annoy me, there's one jumbotron regular I find even more irritating. That'd be the constant barrage of ads for MLB.tv. While the ads are dumb, this isn't what annoys me, it's the fact that they're lying in the face of everyone there.

You know what the 2010 slogan is for MLB.tv? Go ahead and Google it. Yeah, that's right: Baseball Everywhere. For those who have used the service—and I have for the past two years—it's easy to see this is untrue. Now, I knew full-well about the MLB's blackout restrictions going in, and everyone else should as well, but for Major League Baseball and those affiliated to continue to tout the product as a premier or perfect platform for fans is wrong.

As an anecdote, I can watch the Seattle Mariners anywhere...as long as 'anywhere' isn't home in downtown Seattle. Or all of Washington State. Or when I was at school in Missoula, MT. I could travel to as far away as Fairview, Montana (1,100 miles) and still not be able to watch the Mariners.

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Five reasons why the 2010 NCAA Tournament is the biggest event in the history of social media

 

Everyone has their own unique preferences when determining which sporting event is the greatest. Many people prefer the Super Bowl, other traditionalists believe the Fall Classic is the best event in sport while I'm sure there's more than a few odd individuals who think that title should go to the Daytona 500. The debate is impossible to settle but it'd be difficult for anyone to refute the uniqueness and spectacle of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament. 65 teams, single elimination, an endless number of storylines.

Going beyond all of that: the Big Dance is tailor-made for the era of Twitter, Facebook and blogging, much more than any other sport. That, combined with the timing, will make this year's Dance the biggest event in the history of social media. Quite the claim, I know, but here's five reasons why it could be.

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Oscars, live events, illustrate why sports broadcasts have most to gain from social media

Once again, the conversation on Twitter is dominated by a single item. Even if it isn't even completely true, social media and Twitter in particular can make one feel like everyone else is doing the same thing they are. But isn't that the point of social media, to find, network and converse with people who share similar interests? That is never more obvious than with an instance like The Oscars. Or, well, the Super Bowl.

In a story I've been meaning to highlight for sometime, and couldn't agree with more, The New York Times points out that it appears as though social media has created a virtual live 'water cooler' for major televised events and have a major impact on television ratings.

The Nielsen Company, which measures television viewership and Web traffic, noticed this month that one in seven people who were watching the Super Bowl and the Olympics opening ceremony were surfing the Web at the same time.

“The Internet is our friend, not our enemy,” said Leslie Moonves, chief executive of the CBS Corporation, which broadcast both the Super Bowl and the Grammy Awards this year. “People want to be attached to each other.”

This is something I've been trying to harp on for some time, going back to the NBA's rise in ratings. Of course, it could have something to do with the fact that my timeline is dominated by snarky sports bloggers and sarcastic beat writers. A look-in:

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Building smarter baseball fans starts in the broadcast booth

Living in Seattle and being a Mariners fan is growing more and more enjoyable. Yes, there's Jack Z and all the great moves he's made turning 100-loss team into a much buzzed-about contender. But on top of that, Mariners fans are blessed (yes, blessed) with a wealth of phenomenal reading material via what has to be the best blogosphere in the majors. There's Lookout LandingUSS Mariner, Pro Ball NW and even ASW's own Northwest Diamond Notes. It isn't mindless stuff either, these are intelligent baseball writers. As great as their content is, if I come across a post a bit too heavy with Sabermetrics and advanced statistics, I just can't do it. Like hitting an old 50 Cent song on shuffle, I roll right past.

It's not that I think they're wrong, I don't understand them. I read about sports for pleasure and haven't invested the time in doing 'homework' (see: LL's Sabermetrics 101 series) so I can understand some of the blog posts I read. These are the statists the best and most accurate baseball writers/bloggers use. They're the best evaluator on why one ball-player is better than another. And yet, a majority of baseball fans do not understand them, So, how does this change?

In a guest column on Baseball Prospectus, ESPN broadcaster Jon Sciambi says it starts in the booth:

Let's not forget "it's the search for objective knowledge about baseball." The goal is not unveiling newfangled stats; it's about getting people to understand basic ideas and concepts. To achieve that, we can't just slap stats up on the screen and explain them. Understanding has to come in the form of analysis. We have to use the stat and explain it. Sometimes it needs to be the [play-by-play] guy playing analyst and getting the color guy to react [...]

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