Friday Grab Bag: London Olympics will be on YouTube

YouTube and NBC to team on Summer Olympics
NBC will be taking advantage of YouTube’s huge online popularity to help drive traffic to NBC’s home page during the upcoming Summer Olympics in a move that looks to benefit both players according to reports from Sports Business Daily.

The deal calls for YouTube to promote on its home page and to direct visitors to live and highlight videos of the London Games. YouTube will be providing the player that users will need to view the video.

For YouTube it is a further step up into the big leagues as it is replacing Microsoft’s MSN portal as the player of choice. MSN had the 2008 and 2010 Olympics. For NBC it gains a huge presence on the Internet.

According to comScores Media Matrix NBC Sports is currently 6th for the US audience online with 14.7 million unique visitors in February 2012. While it will undoubtedly get a huge boost regardless of any deal due to the Olympics it still trails market leader Yahoo Sports by a significant amount- Yahoo with 50 million users.

US to insist on digital app security?
“Oops your data was stolen again-my bad” may not be the correct response to all of the constant leaking of data from smartphones and other devices. At least one US Senator, Charles Schumer, has taken up the call and has asked the FTC to see if the manner that Google and Apple are running their operating systems violates users’ privacy.

While not a big fan of government intervention I have to agree with this statement from him about apps that steal data- “beyond what a reasonable user understands himself to be consenting to when he allows an app to access data on the phone for purposes of the app’s functionality.”

He is asking that the government agency to force smartphone developers to add safeguards that require expressed consent before allowing access to personal information. It seems that more than these two are guilty and usually all we get are crocodile tears from them when caught. I wonder if this FTC effort will get out of the noise stage?

Apple drops Google Maps
Apple has dropped support for Google Maps in its iPhoto for iOS technology. The move is most likely partly caused by the company’s lawsuits against Google and leading Android users and Google’s fighting back via lawsuits filed my Motorola Mobility, soon to be a part of Google.

However Apple has also purchased mapping technology via its acquisitions of Placebase, Poly9, and C3 Technologies. Apple still offers Google in a number of other ways in its OS and platform offerings so be careful reading too much into this.

Is this a major win for Apple in its Patent battles?
A Google and Motorola Mobility have been ordered by Circuit Judge Richard Posner to disclose details of the development of the Android operating system to rival Apple as part of Apple’s ongoing patent lawsuit over the development of Android.

The case has been ongoing since 2010 and has resulted in a satellite of additional suits by all involved. This will probably add fuel to the fire but not clear if it will have a meaningful impact as there are a number of rumors that Apple may be looking to settle.

What are the best baseball books?
This is always a topic that incites my baseball loving friends- what are the best books on baseball? Well Jeff Polman is the latest to tackle the topic in a blog post found in the Huffington Post. He positions it as the 25 Baseball books that you would want if you were stranded on a desert island.

I really enjoyed the list but like most fans feel that there were favorites that he omitted, some that are worthy and at least one that is a favorite for immature reasons (Seasons in Hell). I do think that Ball Four cannot be omitted no matter what the reason. There is a good conversation on the topic ongoing at Baseball Think Factory at this time. Drop in and make yourself known.

E-Reader use continues to grow
According to a recent Harris poll the growth in e-reader ownership and usage portends good news for those in both markets. Just seven months ago 15% of Americans had one of these devices and now that number has almost doubled to 28%.
What is very good news for companies in this market is that the growth does not appear to be constrained to any one particular age segment with users in the ages 18-35 and 36-47 categories slightly ahead at 30% currently and that number just drops slightly to 28% among ages 67 and older and 24% of those in the 48-66 age category. Typical users read more than non-users as well.

Red Sox Tap Meru for Fenway Wi-Fi Network

Wireless network gear provider Meru Networks has scored a big hit in the connected-stadium race by inking a deal with the Boston Red Sox to build out a Wi-Fi network inside of historic Fenway Park.

While Meru actually worked with the BoSox to install a prototype network before last baseball season, the new deal will officially tap the upstart gear vendor as the offical supplier of a full-bore Wi-Fi network designed to address the mobile broadband needs of the 37,000-plus fans who might file in on game days.

In a designed-for-an-IT-audience press release quote, the Red Sox’s IT director waxes poetically about Meru’s capabilities:

“The sheer number of devices trying to access the network was dizzying – and that number has continued to grow,” said Steve Conley, IT Director, Boston Red Sox. “Our old network simply wasn’t capable of handling the influx of devices or meeting the demand for high-performance connectivity. Meru brought stability, reliability and simplicity to our wireless infrastructure. We can now not only tune the network for optimal performance and avoid outages, we can also scale to meet network demands and reduce management costs.”

The connected-stadium marketplace is expected to heat up in 2012, with networking giant Cisco Systems already having established a separate business unit to focus on the opportunity. Investors previously thought highly of Meru’s chances to stake a claim in the wireless-access market, as the company was able to go public last year in an IPO that netted almost $66 million. However, the company’s stock price has declined since the offering, trading now in the $3-per-share range after hitting highs in the 20s.

Twitter Loves ESPN Loving Twitter

This is very meta-meta, but: A screen shot of a picture taken by Twitter of ESPN showing live Tweets on a TV broadcast:

I think it’s safe to say we’ll see more folks on Twitter tonight. Go Game 7!

How-To Twitter: 5 Winning Sports-Biz Game Plans

Editor’s note: While some people still think there is room to debate whether Twitter matters or not, many participants in the sports arena have already fully embraced the microblogging service and are already using it to a business advantage. Here are five sports-business outlets MSR editors already see using Twitter to a great advantage, for self-promotion, fan engagement and as a way to stay in the front of the competition.

1. Jim Rome (@jimrome) and The Jim Rome Show: Clone input, Sports Bro-mance and a quick way to follow

Jim Rome, host of radio's The Jim Rome Show and ESPN's Rome is Burning

To the “clones” who call in to his popular radio show, Jim Rome is known by handles like Van Smack, Romey, and many other permutations. But the one trending in popularity is @jimrome, the official Twitter address for both Rome and his show, due to both Rome’s adept adoption of Twitter culture as well as an out-front business decision to use Twitter to drive traffic and increase audience engagement.

As someone whose show has a motto of “have a take, don’t suck,” it is probably no surprise that Rome & Co. excel at Twitter’s short-message format. Even when he’s not on the air Rome brings his brand of “smack” to sports via @jimrome, typically best when there is a big nighttime TV event where he can chime in on Twitter with a Rome-flavored take second after it happens.

Rome also uses Twitter actively to promote the show, tweeting links to audio clips from guest visits, a great way to engage an audience outside of those who listen live. Rome also salutes, links to and promotes guests and other sports figures on Twitter, especially relevant as more and more professional athletes use Twitter as a sort of public/private communication channel.

And both the radio show and the ESPN show encourage listeners and viewers to engage with Rome via Twitter, reading tweets on the air and using them to help select topics to cover each day. True to the confrontational nature of the program you can get “run” if your take happens to suck but in sports and Twitter that is part of the fun of playing. By fully embracing Twitter as just another way to take “a call,” Rome and the Jim Rome Show are giving themselves an excellent chance to ride the Twitter bandwagon to bigger audiences and better business. With just more than a half-million Twitter followers, @jimrome is clearly out in front.

2. ESPN: Everyone in the Twitter Pool

While it’s no surprise that ESPN is all in when it comes to Twitter, we have to say that there are two surprising uses of the service that might seem at odds with ESPN’s overall business plan: First, the network apparently has few restrictions on what its reporters can post on Twitter, which can raise questions about where ESPN breaks news — on its own site, or on Twitter? Second, ESPN has fully embraced Twitter as a way to bring viewer comments into its shows, even broadcasting Tweets with Twitter handles — which could seem at odds with ESPN’s own user registration system, which conceivably drives business by getting people to consume more ESPN content.

Though we haven’t had the chance to sit down with anyone at ESPN yet to hear whether or not such strategies are debated, it’s pretty clear that ESPN is not letting its own business concerns keep it from also benefiting from Twitter’s groundswell among sports fans. And by allowing its “talent” like Adam Schefter and John Clayton to post volumnous updates on Twitter at the very least ESPN is keeping its brand at the forefront of Twitter simply by letting its reporters do what they do best — deliver breaking news and analysis. Points to ESPN for doing Twitter first and leaving the business stuff to figure out for later.

3. Verizon Wireless: Twitter ‘chats’ Promote NFL Mobile Service

Even if you don’t have a Verizon Wireless cellphone and therefore can’t use the company’s NFL Mobile service, you can still get on the Verizon bandwagon thanks to Twitter, where the company regularly hosts “chats” or live Twitter conversations with NFL athletes as a way to promote the service. No way to tell whether or not Verizon’s Twitter chats are helping sell any more iPhones or HTC Thunderbolts, but at the very least Verizon is doing a perfect job of using Twitter to leverage its exclusive cellphone agreement with the NFL to establish its brand as a fan-enabler. That can’t hurt when it’s time for Twitter followers to upgrade their mobile device.

4. Tour Tracker: Using Technology to Bring Twitter Users Along

For bicycle racing fans who weren’t near a TV there was no better way to follow some of the best action this past summer than via the Tour Tracker application, which was licensed and sponsored for some events by team sponsor Radio Shack. What made the Tour Tracker (or “Shack Tracker”) especially cool during events like the Quizno’s U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge was the app’s ability to incorporate fan tweets on the fly — a great way to use technology to bring fans closer to the event and to bring a layer of community to the coverage that simply hasn’t been available before. At MSR we expect to see more Twitter incorporation during 2012 — perhaps even a live Twitter crawl during a major event? If so pioneers like Tour Tracker will reap rewards for paving the way.

5. San Francisco Giants: A Full Twitter Embrace

@SFGiants & Twitter from TwitterHQ on Vimeo.

There couldn’t have been a better season for the hometown combination of Twitter and the San Francisco Giants than 2010, when the underdogs in orange and black won the World Series. Though the team’s Twitter strategy didn’t help it win any games it’s safe to say that there might not have been a fan base more ready to embrace a full-on Twitter strategy than the folks who fill AT&T Park. The video above is a good recap of how the Giants embraced Twitter fully, and how now its fans expect to be able to see highlights, get news and other information simply by following the Giants on Twitter. And Twitter, likewise, uses the Giants’ plan as the starting point for its list of ways sports organizations can use Twitter to help themselves. Never too late to start!

The Posada Affair: Wife’s Tweets To Make Baseball History?

If the Yankees fall one game short of the playoffs, Laura Posada's distracting in-game Tweets could become baseball history

Veteran New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada's wife Laura Posada in bikini (right) and Yankees short shorts and halter top (left). Photo courtesy of member twentythreeandtwo

Veteran New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada’s decision to sit out the Saturday May 14 game against the Boston Red Sox sparked an after-game press conference, and the faithful at New Yankee Stadium toting mobile devices already had the means to know a much larger story was unfolding.

Calling the game to a nationwide television audience, Fox Network broadcasters dubbed The Posada Affair an unprecedented example of tweets sparking a press conference during a game’s early innings, and an example of the growing importance of mobile applications and wireless access to the Internet at live sports events.

Jorge didn’t quit on team; He has a doctor’s note

Here’s what happened May 14.

Jorge Posada, the 39-year-old switch-hitting New York Yankees catcher, was set to bat No. 9 in the lineup and had a low season batting average coming into the game. Instead of playing, Posada scratched himself from the lineup minutes before Yankee starter C.C. Sabathia threw the first pitch. Amid rumors of Posada’s impeding retirement and clubhouse dissension, Laura Posada, the catcher’s wife, tweeted from the stands several times. Her messages, posted between the first and third innings, included this gem: “Jorge Didn’t Quit on Team; He Has a Doctor’s Note.”

Fast-moving tweets spark makeshift press conference

Among the 48,790 in attendance were followers of Laura Posada’s twitter account. Since her statements did not match retirement speculation or rumors that Posada threw what major media dubbed a “hissy fit” prior to the game, the Yankees scheduled a press conference to clear the air.

In a national telecast of the game, Fox broadcasters said The Posada Affair was believed to be the first time a Major League Baseball team scheduled a press conference to address statements made public during a game by an insider via a mobile device. 

Online “Posada” = onfield “Merkle”? 

The decision by Posada’s wife to Tweet during the game arguably cost the Yankees focus from the task at hand, which was beating Red Sox.

In the game, Posada’s replacement Andruw Jones went one for four with three strikeouts. The listless Yankees, no doubt in part distracted by The Posada Affair, lost to the BoSox 6-0. If the Yankees miss the playoffs by one game, The Posada Affair could become baseball history.

Baseball card depicting Fred Merkle

Fred Merkle on a baseball card; he was tormented by his costly mistake. Image courtesy of

There is precedent, albeit in a time when the only things that mattered happened on the field. In 1908, New York Giants third baseman Fred “Bonehead” Merkle failed to touch second base after the winning run scored with two out in the ninth inning of a tied ballgame against the Chicago Cubs. The game was declared a tie.

After the Giants missed the playoffs by one game, a “Merkle” was widely used to describe a stupid mistake. Could a “Posada” eventually become synonymous with an off-field communication that distracts a team from victory?

Posada and the future of mobile sports viewing

The Posada Affair underscores the growing power of mobile devices as an enhancement to those attending live sporting events. Wired attendees were able to see that Posada’s family considered the situation serious enough to comment, and get perspective that un-wired attendees did not have.

Mobile Sports Report recommends that NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL fans preconfigure their Twitter feeds to access all on-field, on-court and on-ice partipants and insiders, and use guides to know where Wi-Fi is available in stadiums. When live proposition betting on mobile devices is legalized in the United States, mobile sports viewers will have the ability to access information to their advantage, even if that information is a few tweets from a defensive family member.

MLB’s ‘At Bat 11’ Provides Baseball for the Mobile Fan

(By Gregger)

Just in time for baseball’s Opening Day, Major League Baseball has released an updated version of its At Bat 11 app which is available at its MLB.Com site. The program will come in several versions, each tailored to different platforms and offering similar, but not entirely the same features. Platforms supported include Apple’s iPads, the iPod touch and iPhone, as well as Blackberry and Android devices.

The $14.95 app is not a gaming program but is designed to bring a wide range of facets from current games and the season to fans who need to access the games using a their mobile devices. For all platforms it allows favorite team designation, the selection of in-progress game video highlights and the option of home or away broadcast teams.

A free trial period for live streaming of all out of market games via MLB.TV is available, sponsored by Volvo, for the opening month of the season but only for users of Apple devices running its iOS. You can watch streaming video of out of area games on Android devices running at least OS version 2.2 (with Flash support and at least an ARMv7 processor) but you do not get the free one-month trial.

It should be noted that if you are planning to subscribe to MLB.TV, it is for out of area games only and you should check to ensure that you are out of area, because some teams claim an interesting cross-segment of the country as their own, and in some cases more than one team claims an area so you might not be able to see the games that you wish. For instance one segment of Nevada is claimed by Arizona, San Francisco, San Diego and Oakland.

The level of sophistication on what is supported varies by device with Apple coming out on top and the Blackberry coming in last. For Blackberry users running at least OS 5.0 the app offers condensed games, notifications on game time starts and news features on all teams.

For the Android platform a minimum of OS version 2.1 is required and its additional features include a widget for an in-progress scoreboard, a pitch by pitch tracker, a customized home screen, expanded highlights and a video library archive that is searchable by player, team or keyword and the ability to access MLB.TV.

The iPhone and iPod touch are much the same as the Android platform but also include live look-ins at key plays for any game in progress, in area or out, and the ability to watch any archived game from 2011 on demand. The iPad also has an enhanced Gameday feature.

While baseball’s first attempts to control online media were a bit halting such as its consolidation of all teams web sites under a uniform banner in a dull and sometimes confusing site, it seems that it really now understands that fans are seeking multiple options to follow their teams and it has made a great effort to support them with its At Bat 11 and other programs.