October 23, 2014

NCAA/Turner Alliance to expand its Football Presence

The alliance between NCAA and Turner Sports will be showing increased activity this Fall

With the start of college football just days away the NCAA and its partner Turner Sports have stepped up with a range of programs for fans and followers of NCAA football including a 30 minute preview show every week.

The show will be hosted by Vince Cellini and SEC college analyst Dave Archer and will cover not only the Football Bowl Subdivision but also the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), Division II and Division III, which should make for a very busy 30 minutes.

The move is just one of many as the two partners start to move forward in a joint effort to expand the NCAA’s on-line and broadcast presence. Last year the NCAA singed a pair of deals with Turner Sports, one of which included CBS as well.

The first deal called for a 14-year television, Internet and wireless rights agreement with CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting. It gave the two the rights to present the Division I Men’s Basketball Championship beginning in 2011 and continuing through 2024 for more than $10.8 billion. This includes all the games being broadcast live, over a combination of four networks-CBS, TBS, TNT and truTV.

Included in the deal are joint marketing effort between the NCAA , CBS Sports and Turner Broadcasting. At the time this was labeled the start of a new partnership and so it was as a second deal was cut soon after.

The second deal was just between Turner and the NCAA and it called for Turner create and mange NCAA Digital and which also covers 14 years. No terms of this deal were made available. NCAA Digital will cover all 88 NCAA championships and is designed to heighten awareness and interest in them, including running NCAA.com, the primary web site for all of the championships.

Included in the Fall football push will a number of expected features including a live scoreboard, power rankings and game recaps. There will be live statistics from ongoing games and a Heisman Watch as well as the ability to call up video highlights and watch features produced for the site.

It will be interesting to see how this impacts ESPN who currently is the unchallenged king of on-line and broadcast sports. I expect that will raise the bar for much of the channels analyst, much as the Baseball Network seems to have done, in my opinion. However the 30 minute show has a tough hill to climb to surpass the very popular ESPN College Gameday program.

Mobile Devices Catching on with Wider Audience

The makeup of the owners of tablets and eReaders is undergoing a major change in the United States, according to the latest report from nielsonwire. Just a year ago it was dominated by young males but that is quickly changing as the technology is finding acceptance on a much broader scale.

Among other things that the survey found was that women went from 47% of eReader users in Q3 2010 to 61% in Q2 2011, however the growth in tablets was slower, moving from 39% to 41% in the same time frame.

Also an older crowd is moving it this market as well. Tablet users in the combined 45-55 year old and 55+ space grew from 23% in Q3 2010 to 37% market share in Q2 20111 while in the eReader space it grew from 40% to 51% in the same time frame.

Not surprisingly the two categories, eReaders and Tablets, are used for much different purposes, according to an earlier survey by Neilson. Tablets find a great deal of acceptance as device used to accompany watching television, while not surprisingly eReaders are most often found used as a bedside book.

It will be very interesting to see how this market continues to grow, both in customer base and usage, but also in product offerings. While Hewlett-Packard departed this space that made its tablet offering an instant sensation, selling out. While in part this was driven by the opportunity to get a bargain, I think that it also shows the pent up demand for lower cost devices, tablets in particular.

While lower cost ones are starting to hit the market, with Pandigital’s just introduced lineup just weeks ago being one of the first, I think offerings in this space could have issues with quality, and since that will be hard to uphold with a lower price point, it could be a while until one catches on with customers. Pandigital’s Nova did not fare well in the first review I read.

“In-running” future of sports betting, newspaper says

Imagine a Super Bowl Sunday in the near future. You are sitting in the stands with 70,000 or more hardcore fans. Your team’s star wide receiver goes into the slot. On your smartphone, a betting proposition comes up. Do you take three-to-one odds that there will be a completion to your team’s stud?

The technology is already available to make that experience a reality, and the future of the $2.76 billion legal sports betting industry in the United States may depend it becoming a reality, according to a Sunday August 28 report in the Las Vegas Review-Journal

Already, smartphones are being used in Nevada to make the sports experience better for fans. Cantor Fitzgerald, a Wall Street investment firm that was devastated by the 9-11 attacks, has taken over the sports books of The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, The Palm and a host of other casinos. It uses the same technology it uses manage Wall Street hedge funds to provide “in-running” betting services to customers with smart phones, offering proposition betting throughout the game. The only reason ”in-running” is not offered to your smart phone, unless you are in the State of Nevada, is because state and federal laws prohibit it. Global Positioning Systems are used to detect whether consumers are attempting “in-running” bets, and someone straddling the state line between California and Nevada, Utah and Nevada, Arizona and Nevada and Oregon and Nevada, can literally see their bet go through or be declined depending on whether they move six meters inside the State of Nevada or move into a state where the practice is banned.

Las Vegas-based American Wagering, which already produces BlackBerry, Android and iPhone betting applications is currently developing similar technology for iPad and Android tablet, the Review-Journal said. And U.K.-based William Hill recently shelled out $53 million to acquire American Wagering and Club Cal Neva Satellite Race and Sports Division, bringing a company known for pushing for reform in gaming regulations to the United States sports gambling scene.

Write your Congressman.

Sports Media Pages Load Too Slow, Researcher Says

Technology performance company Gomez Benchmarks said Friday Aug. 26 that only one in 12 sports media websites can load pages in five seconds or less, disappointing millions of sports fans every time they use their smartphones to get news and buzz.

A division of Compuware Corporation, Gomez Benchmarks measured four carrier/device combinations — AT&T/iPhone, Sprint/HTC Hero, T-Mobile/HTC Dream and Verizon/Droid — against 12 popular sports media websites. While the website of the WWE averaged an acceptable 4.5 seconds per page, such media outlets as ESPN.com, NFL.com and CBS Sports.com were way too slow to satisfy sports fans.

See how your favorite fan sites did:

NHL.com — 8.3 seconds average response time

NBA.com — 10.68 second average response time   

NASCAR.com — 13.16 second average response time

 NBC Sports — 14.04 second average response time

ESPN.com — 14.06 second average response time

MLB.com – 14.33 second average response time

NFL.com — 14.93 second average response time

CBS Sports — 15.41 second average response time

About.com Sports — 20.11 second average response time

 

 

Can We Just Kill the Tim Tebow News for a bit?

Is a third string QB really worth a daily update?

There seems to be one story that is dominating the preseason NFL news this year. It is not the question of if Green Bay can repeat, if the Eagles will play in the Superbowl, or will an NFC West team make the playoffs again with a losing record. No it revolves around a backup quarterback and where he will end up in the depth charts.

Poor Tim Tebow, everybody seems to be kicking him, and he does not even appear to be down. Highly successful and highly praised in college, things are different now that he is in the NFL and the drumbeat of negativity seems to be picking up as he prepares to start his second season in Denver.

His problems started before he was drafted, as most fans know, with industry experts claiming that he had a poor throwing motion, took too long to throw, could not really walk on water, the whole nine yards. They boldly predicted that he would be a mid second to third round draft choice and quickly moved to a running back position.

Josh McDaniels, then head coach for the Denver Broncos boldly proved everyone wrong, at least in regards to draft position, by taking Tebow in the first round. The draft position, his obvious display of his beliefs, his autobiography, his ESPN documentary, the rumor that the Broncos were going to move Orton so he could start etc… all seems to have created a backlash against him.

Maybe I should have waited a few years.

It seems that on a daily basis someone is saying that he cannot make it, that he is failing, and taking great joy in it. The latest is Boomer Esiason, former NFL quarterback who bluntly said that Tebow is not an NFL quarterback, “he can’t play, he can’t throw.” Even the comedy site The Onion has gotten in on the fun, saying that Jesus Christ claims that Tebow is not ready to start in the NFL.

I say, so what? There is no doubt in my mind that he brought some of this on himself, but you look at press stories on him in school were almost all positive, and now the opposite. I neither like nor dislike Tebow. Until he starts for the Broncos and beats a team I am rooting for, or possibly the point spread, I really do not care. Is it really that important to breathlessly talk about every preseason pass? I can barely stand to watch preseason games, and now I am inundated with this crap? Get a life for goodness sake.

I know that this is the NFL silly season, when real storylines are few and far between but I have heard more about him that the Colt’s quarterback situation, the 49ers quarterback situation, the Seahawks quarterback situation etc.. all of which seems to be a a bit more important in the overall scheme of things. There have been plenty of NFL QBs that failed with all of the tools-JaMarcus Russell anyone?-and ones that threw funny, were too short etc.. that succeeded. So lets just wait and see.

A Fluffy Friday Roundup

Big Changes at Apple with Jobs out

As by now every geek in the Western world knows, Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, chairman and CEO has stepped down as CEO due to health reasons. Many are praising him as possibly one of the greatest CEOs of modern times and say that he has performed the greatest corporate turnaround in history. Hard to argue with this and in any case I am not well enough informed on overall corporate history in America to dispute or support the claim. But to play a game of what if- what if John Sculley had not relieved Jobs of his position as head of the Macintosh division in 1985? I believe that Jobs learned a great deal about focus and proper product development in his years at NeXT Computer and Pixar.
Jobs returned to Apple when it purchased NeXT and he began running the company after the ouster of then-CEO Gil Amelio in 1996. At the time Apple’s stock was stuck trading below $10. He quickly killed a number of products and honed the company’s focus. One of the complaints about Jobs prior to his ousting at Apple had been that he was unpredictable and chaotic managing the Macintosh division. Those traits were now gone. Now it remains to be seen if Tim Cook, his hand picked successor, can successfully follow in his footsteps.

An athlete who does not go to the highest bidder?

I think that Jered Weaver is my new favorite baseball player. No I have not started rooting for American league teams but his reasoning for signing his latest contract really struck a chord with me. Rather than wait until next season ended and let his agent, Scott Boras get the Yankees and Red Sox engage in a bidding war for his services, he instead signed an $85 million extension with the Angels. Now of course $85 million is a lot of money, but how many of us would leave additional millions on the table when it could be ours for the taking? He said “If 85’s not enough to take care of my family and generations to come then I’m pretty stupid.” A refreshingly honest comment IMHO.

Do you really need an HP Touchpad, even at $100?

The Samsung Galaxy

A funny thing happened on the way to leaving consumer electronics for Hewlett-Packard, its Touchpad became an overnight sensation. Stores are posting signs proclaiming they have no more, people are following HP execs on Twitter to find out when and if more will be available. There are lines at some stores and people are purchasing extras in the hopes of reselling them for expected profits. Still why buy a poorly reviewed product with a now obsolete OS, even if it is at the sale price of $99? A friend of mine who is self employed admitted to me that if he had spent the time working and gaining billable hours rather than fruitlessly waiting in line, he could have purchased a Samsung Galaxy or Apple iPad rather than a tablet that he had not even considered purchasing a week ago.

Can NBC Sports Challenge ESPN? NBC has Sports?

Is NBC Sports trying to go head to head with ESPN? That is the topic of an interesting piece at Sports Business Daily. The idea seems to be establishing a honed, professional approach to the sports it has, Major League Soccer and the NHL. I had not realized that the Versus channel was part of the NBC sports empire. The network has worked hard in the last few months to rid itself of the junk sports programming it had and has lured, if that is the word, MLS from Fox. Still it has quite an uphill battle and I wish it the best. I think that ESPN would really benefit from some stiff competition in sports broadcasting, and maybe force it to deliver a more focused, professional product rather than simply running its talking heads by us at every conceivable moment. I believe that the MLB and NFL networks are also putting pressure on the World Wide Leader.