NFL playoff expansion on hold

Playoff games will be a bit more spread around this post season in the NFL as NBC will be adding a divisional round game and ESPN will be getting a Wild Card game. The ESPN game will be also broadcast over the air in the cities of the two teams that are playing.

Meanwhile the talk of expansion of the playoffs looks like it has been delayed, at least in the near term. NY Giants team president John Mara spoke to Newsday and said that he believed that the earliest additional post season games would be added would be in 2015. Commissioner Goodell had been pushing for this year.

NFL Players to land Tweet deal
Fans quite often follow their favorite athletes on Twitter, or at least ones that might make outspoken or interesting statements. Well now they may say something along the lines of “This Tweet brought to you by…”

A deal between the NFL Players Inc. and digital marketing company Opendorse will work to get endorsement deals for players who will be paid to tout the products via Twitter. According to Sports Business Journal Opendorse has already signed 200 players.

Top NFL Draft misses?
One of the byproducts of the huge NFL mock draft industry is that it sometimes makes some glaring mistakes. I think that most fans have a love/hate relationship with top online and broadcast mock drafters and really enjoy bringing up this topic.

Awful Announcing has complied just that type of list and leads off a historcial gem with Mel Kiper saying that JaMarcus Russell, the Oakland Raiders top draft selection in 2007 is the next John Elway. It just gets better after that but a few I was hoping to see did not make the cut, which may say something about the number of mock draft failures.

World Cup teams have needs too
Who knew that World Cup teams had demands that will most likely force rock stars to improve their game when it comes to making demands from the hotels where the teams stay. Kosher meat, fresh bananas from your native country and only liquid soap, none of that old fashion bar soap, which is apparently not good enough for the French.

According to SB Nation many are demanding the televisions carry broadcasts from home with Honduras demanding six Spanish speaking stations. Japan needs a Jacuzzi in every room. And I thought that Van Halen was demanding because they did not want brown M&Ms.

Olympics great for NBCSN; Are mock NFL drafts worthwhile?

The Sochi Winter Olympics are now in the rear view mirror as the sporting world now looks to the next major event, the World Cup, yet NBCSN is ready to continue basking in the winter event’s limelight for just a bit longer.

The network reported its best ratings quarter ever with a 215,000 average viewership daily for the live events that it broadcast during the two-week run. This represents a 231% increase over its 2013 numbers. Even subtracting the Olympics it saw a 58% increase and may indicate that the little-known channel may finally be getting traction with viewers.

Dodger fans can’t watch Dodgers games
With the huge growth of regional sports networks it seems that every MLB team has its own, dedicated network to bring its games to its fans. Somehow it does not always work that way, as New Yorkers can attest from a few years ago.

Now it appears that the fans of the Los Angeles Dodgers are facing viewing issues as its RSN, SportsNet LA, has had issues getting cable players to air the games, causing as much as 70% of greater LA to be blacked out.

Unconscious bias by umpires?
An interesting piece from fivethrityeight.com looks at strike zones but importantly how it can change, and change dramatically in important situations as umpires striving to ensure that they are not a part of the game instead do alter the outcome.

The article can be a bit confusing for some when looking at the graphs but it has some interesting conclusions including that umpires seem happier to call a strike on a borderline pitch with three balls than ball four. Head over and give it a read.

WatchESPN on Amazon TV Fire
Amazon has recently entered the broadcast delivery business with its Amazon Fire TV, a platform that will vie against Apple TV, Roku and others, but sports fans need not worry because ESPN will be there ready and waiting if you adopt the platform.

WatchESPN is available on the Fire TV and using it fans can access a huge amount of live and recorded sporting events along with ESPN’s select offerings of the channels original sports programming such as E:60 and Outside The Lines.


Mock NFL Drafts

The NFL draft is less than two months away and so now is the silly season for a growing industry — NFL mock drafts. You know, when an athlete who has not played in months magically goes from a first rounder to a third rounder on someone’s big board for no apparent reason.

The good folks at Kissing Suzy Kolber have taken the industry to task and show why you should pay little attention to the mock drafts. They point out the inanity of the event and it has always seemed to be that the local beat writer for a team has a much better feel for what your team will do than some talking head in a studio will — that is unless the talking head is using other peoples’ work without recognizing it and we know that never happens!

NFL Network has Broad Digital Coverage for 2013 Draft

draft

As any fan knows the 2013 NFL Draft starts on Thursday and while there has been a great deal of coverage leading up to the event, it looks like that will pale in comparison to the massive coverage the league’s network plans.

Most fans I know switch between networks on draft day, checking to see what the experts at ESPN, the NFL Network and elsewhere have to say about each choice. Yet an issue can arise since the draft starts on a Thursday night and even with a prime time start there are many that have to work or have other engagements that might make it impossible to be in front of the television. There is online coverage as well as a mobile app for these types of problems.

For the online user, be it as a second screen or a user watching at work there is the NFL.com Live Presented by Courtyard. Coverage begins at 8:00 pm ET for the online effort and will be hosted by Matt Smith and will include former NFL players LaDainian Tomlinson, Kurt Warner and Akbar Gbajabiamila, as well as former NFL general manager Charley Casserly. The online show will occasionally join with the NFL Network’s broadcast of the event.

Coverage will continue over the weekend with Friday’s starting at 6:30 pm ET for rounds 2-3 and Saturday’s coverage of rounds 4-7 will start at noon ET. Much of Saturday’s proceedings will be simulcast.

For Verizon subscribers there is the option of using NFL Mobile from Verizon that will be streaming the NFL Network’s entire 2013 draft coverage. The network has also added a live draft tracker feature and video on-demand featuring draft and team analysis. NFL Mobile, however, costs $5 a month and you must have a Verizon phone and data plan.

For users of the NFL ’13 app, a free app for both iOS and Android owners, there is now a feature called Draft Xtra that can serve as a companion or second screen to both broadcast NFL Network coverage or the coverage that is available on NFL.Com. It will include both on-demand and live video as well as a range of interactive features.

Of course there has been a great deal of coverage both online and on the broadcast arm of the NFL and that will increase as the draft nears and will include predraft predictions and post draft analysis. Look here for a complete listing.

The NBA Draft is Tomorrow but ESPN Starts Tonight

The NBA draft is upon us once again and in some ways it has not achieved the overall hype level that the NFL has achieved, but it also often makes for a much better viewing spectacle as there is often a host of wildcards.

The official draft begins Thursday night at 7 pm ET and will be hosted, as it has for the last decade, by ESPN. A predraft show will be aired tonight at 7 pm ET for those of you that want to get an advanced look and see if you should despair or be elated over your following day prospects.

ESPN’ has said that it will have a specific focus for part of its broadcast that will be on the themes of determination and achievement and “climbing the ladder” to success. I think that this could be very interesting. It often seems to me that players that were stars in school and then disappear in the NBA, and NFL for that matter, are often the victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Getting stuck with a coach that does not use a players skill in his offense or defense, and yet when traded seem to bloom as their supporting cast improves, or their skills are used in a much better manner by the team.

The NBA’s 66th annual draft, held at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J., will feature a horde of ESPN personnel and is hosted by Rece Davis along with and college basketball analyst Jay Bilas, NBA analyst Jeff Van Gundy, NBA Insider Chris Broussard, college basketball reporter Andy Katz and NBA reporter Ric Bucher.

It does not appear that the network is taking its arguers in chief Skip Bayless and Stephen A. Smith on the road for the event, something they did do for the NBA Finals. I was hoping to once again hear the chants of ‘cheese doodles’ ringing from the rafters.

However ESPN is pulling out all of the stops with live news feeds from 15 cities to get head coaches and general managers’ feedback on selections, with live reporting from New Orleans, where the league owned team has the #1 choice and a reporter in Charlotte where the #2 pick resides.

ESPN will also be providing coverage over a wide range of its other media properties including ESPN Radio, ESPN Mobile TV and streaming live via WatchESPN on ESPN3.com. You can also look for NBA on ESPN Facebook page for updates of you are so inclined.

Looks like the USFL is for Real

We reported a few months back, on April Fool’s Day to be exact, that there were rumors that the United States Football League was about to resurrect itself as a spring football league and it now appears that the rumors were not a joke and that you can expect to hear more about the league in the coming months according to a piece at NBC Sports.

At the time of the report there was a web site for the league as well as at least one news story that claimed it was true and that they had interviewed the new owner of the league. Now we have seen a second piece that said that the league was for real.

It has now started to fill out a bit of its top management with the reported hiring for ex Oakland Raider great Fred Biletnikoff as an advisor for the league. The league also has James Bailey, a former executive for the Cleveland Browns and then the Baltimore Ravens for 21 years, on the USFL’s board of advisors.

The league intends to model itself after Major League Soccer and that it will have the players and coaches under contract to the league, rather than individual teams and said that it views itself as a minor league source for the NFL.

It has no plans to try and steal away, or even sign, players that are drafted by the NFL and will instead look to fill its ranks with both undrafted players and those that did not make the grade in their first try with NFL teams.

It has said that there have been no talks yet with the NFL but that it expects to have talks within the next 60 days and said that it will keep all of its practices and games open to NFL personnel. It is the process of gaining owners with ties to the areas where t hopes to locate teams and is creating a board of directors.

The USFL plans to be a summer league with initially eight teams. While no schedule has been announced I wonder how well non-drafted college players will be interested in going here instead of waiting for NFL minicamps and trying to catch on there instead. If the NFL gives its official blessing to the USFL’s role as a minor league that might help draw in these players. Also just a footnote, the web site I listed as the league’s in the first article was incorrect and the correct one is listed in this article. Sorry.

Friday Grab Bag: What Grades Did your Team’s NFL Draft Receive?

A report from ABI Research shows that while tablets such as Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle are constantly in the news as the latest and greatest laptop use is still strong, but does find that tablets are taking sales away from netbooks.

The research found that approximately 1/3 of those surveyed planned to buy a laptop in the next year while 16% planned on purchasing a media tablet in the same time frame. It looks like netbooks are being relegated to emerging markets and out of the US market.

Mustaches making a comeback in baseball?
There was an amusing piece in The Wall Street Journal about a week ago talking about the return of the mustachioed man in baseball. In the modern era it probably reached its peak on the Oakland A’s of the Charles Finley ownership era and has since seemed to fade away.

However just last year John Axford, a reliever with the Milwaukee Brewers won the very coveted ‘Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American’ from the American Mustache Institute, a notable win for a Canadian. No real insights here just kind of an interesting read- also I did not know that they were also known as Lip Sweaters.



Microsoft takes big hit in German court

A German court has ruled that Microsoft cannot sell its Xbox 360 game console and its Windows 7 operating system in the German market. The court, based in Mannheim, said that Microsoft breached an agreement that it had with Motorola Mobility in using certain video compression software in Microsoft products.

However Microsoft is not likely to remove its products from German shelves right away as Microsoft has won a ruling in U.S. District court in Seattle that

Do you have a social media will?
The joke that a friend will clear your browsing history if you die suddenly has some bearing in reality, or so I have heard. But do they know your passwords? The Government seems to understand the issues families of recently deceased trying to gain access to social media and has offered a bit of advice.

Posted here on the USA Gov blog it has a piece entitled “How and why you should write a social media will” that entails you giving passwords to a trusted person to close Facebook, email etc that are open in your name. And clear browsing history.

London Olympics to have world’s largest McDonalds?

I for one have always associated McDonalds with fitness and athletic excellence so this of course does not surprise me. The AP and Christian Science Monitor has reported that a two story McDonalds that can seat 1500 people will be built in Olympic Park.

According to the piece, it is just one of five that will be built for the Olympics, one just for the athletes. Guess who the official food sponsor is for the London Olympics.

Nokia planning tablets and hybrids
Departing Nokia Chairman Jorma Ollila said that the company is looking to expand into tablets and hybrids, but did not give any type of timetable or details on the move. The company just lost its crown as the top handset maker after a 14 year run to rival Samsung.

It has invested heavily in developing for the emerging Microsoft Windows Phone standard and it seems likely that it might expand that partnership to include supporting Windows 8, Microsoft’s tablet OS when that is available.

iPad 4G claims false?
Apple is facing some heat from Australia and the United Kingdom on the claims that the recently released iPad works on 4G networks. The battle about connectivity has been going on for some time down under but now the U.K. has joined the fray, Red Orbit reports.

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) claims that the ads are misleading since the iPad does not connect at the frequency that the fledgling 4G networks in that country operate, the same problem it has in Australia. In Australia Apple simply removed references to 4G and is expected to do the same in the UK.
You would think that something this basic would have already been found bulletproof prior to releasing the device but who knows?

Target boots Amazon’s Kindle
Target, one of Amazon’s largest brick and mortar partners has opted to cease carrying Amazon’s Kindle tablet. The issue is that customers visit the stores and look at the devices and then return home and buy them direct according to the New York Times.

Amazon even encouraged its customers to do so, offering a discount f they purchased a product direct from Amazon after scanning it n a store. So instead Target will increase Apple’s presence and other tablets including Barnes & Noble’s Nook ereader.in its 1,800 stores

Kickstarter favorite Pebble gets first app
Pebble, the watch that connects to your smartphone now has its first app, one from RunKeeper. The details for what exactly the app will do are not available yet but RunKeeper develops programs that track workouts. The company said that when the Pebble is commercially available it will have the RunKeeper app available as well.

Grading the NFL draft graders
Now that the NFL Draft is over and the wait begins for the start of the regular season there is still one NFL stone that appears to be untouched-looking at how all of the major NFL pundits team grades compare.

Now you could arm yourself with a spreadsheet and spend time traveling to all of the various web sites to garner what they said and how it compares to their rivals prognostications, but the good folks at Football Outsiders have taken it upon themselves.

They took the posted grades from nine NFL writers and draft experts and show how they rating each team, how that compares to what the competitors said, and how teams ranked overall. It is well worth a read.