Friday Grab Bag: 14 New ESPN Channels — mainly online

ESPN is launching 15 virtual networks for users of Apple TV and Roku boxes that provide Internet connectivity to their televisions as part of its ongoing WatchESPN initiative. The new channels’ programming will be culled from related conference programming from the network’s existing portfolio that includes ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, ESPNU and others.

Some of the programming will include select live events including college basketball. Others such as college football will only be available via on-demand broadcasting. The channels will feature the ACC, America East, Atlantic Sun, Big South, Big West, Horizon, Mid-American, Metro Atlantic Athletic, Missouri Valley, Northeast, Ohio Valley, Southern, Sun Belt and Southland conferences. In addition there will be a combined channel featuring coverage of historically black colleges and universities (HBCU) and conferences including the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Mid-Eastern Athletic and Central Intercollegiate Athletic conferences.
Fox Sports 1 has new MLB show
Fox Sports will be broadcasting a new slate of games this year, with a preference for teams that have regional Fox broadcast deals, and it will have the opportunity to highlight its games with its new MLB Whiparound show.

Airing Monday-Friday at 10 pm ET (but 12 midnight on Wednesdays) the program will be up against one of ESPN’s flagship programs Baseball Tonight and the MLB Network’s MLB tonight, all of which start at the same hour.

The Raiders to Portland?
There are a few fans in Portland, Ore., who are running a campaign to get the state to encourage the Oakland Raiders to move north to Portland, a city that lost its Single A baseball team a few years ago due to lack of support.

While the Raiders’ owner has said that the team would look to move if Oakland does not solve its stadium issue (it wants a new one) it seems highly unlikely that Portland would be its first choice with Los Angeles open. However the mix between Portland hipsters and die hard Raider fans would be great to watch.

NBC had to provide make-good ads for Olympics

Advertising Age is reporting that the broadcast giant has to provide make-good ads to some of its Olympics customers because while it won the broadcast bragging rights for virtually every night it fell short of the projected ratings.

However the network feels good about the overall results and is optimistic about its next Olympics broadcast, the 2016 Summer games in Rio. It has already started to sell ads for that event.

Minor League Baseball team has selfie promotion
One of the great things about minor league baseball are the interesting promotions that many of the teams engage in. What is possible the first of the upcoming season comes from the Kalamazoo Growlers.

They are having a promotion centered around selfies called the Salute to Selfie Night this season. The event calls for fans to take pictures of themselves and submit them, from which the team will make a jersey with the images reproduced in collage form. So practice your duck face now!

MLB Comes to TiVo-Is there a Player it Does Not support?


One of the advantages of having MLB.TV Premium subscription has always been that you can use a variety of platforms to watch and listen to games, but until MLB added TiVo I never realized how many it actually did support.

TiVo users can now watch MLB games, subject to certain limitations, and the app is designed to take advantage of select features that come with TiVo. MLB integrated TiVo’s standard playback functions into the app, including the ability to pause, fast-forward and rewind or skip game action.

The MLB.TV is set up to deliver game viewing and video stream in a picture-in-graphic (PIG) or an “L bar” window to view the score while watching a game. There are a range of additional features from the relatively mundane ones such as stats and standings, favorite team selection, a choice of home or away broadcasters, and calendar view to one called “Jump to Inning” that permits users to jump back to the beginning of any inning in the game.

The addition of TiVo support is in line with MLB’s approach of delivering its programming and games to its audience in as wide a manner as possible. It has a number of mobile devices supported including Apple’s iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Then there is the huge number of devices that support Google’s Android operating system and most recently added was support for the BlackBerry Z10.

Now I was aware of all of these but the other, more stationary platforms caught me by a bit of a surprise, although I have watched games on two of the platforms. There is the Sony Playstation 3, Samsung TV and Blu-ray Disc Player, Apple TV, Roku Player and Boxee. Then of course there is also Xbox 360, Sony TV and Blu-ray players and Western Digital TV Live.

It is too bad that other sports do not actively follow the lead of MLB, but I guess that the broadcasting contracts most likely prohibit them from doing so. Fans of many teams, say in football, are constantly subjected to a limited number of teams on national broadcasts, and if you live outside of your teams home base you may only see them once or twice on broadcast TV a season.

Sling Media moves to Facebook with new App

The company continues to reach out to new platforms

Sling Media, a provider of streaming media, has once again expanded its reach by developing a Facebook app that has the potential to reach millions of additional potential customers as well as make its make its technology more easily used.

The program is called SlingPlayer for Facebook and the obvious target is its installed customer base. To use the app you need both a Facebook account and more importantly a Slingbox. It provides you with an on screen remote control that enables you to watch and record programs remotely from your home system.

SlingPlayer for Facebook does not require additional hardware, passwords or software. A user that already has an account with the company can now use existing passwords etc to access their DVR or live television. It supports a wide variety of browsers including Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Internet Explorer and works on both PCs and Macs. However only customers with its Pro-HD or Solo devices will be able to use the app.

The app will also enable the company to possibly get into businesses and other sites via a potential backdoor by using Facebook. A company may close many different sites to keep employees focused on work but Facebook tends to be exempt.

I expect that it will provide a secondary boost to the company as customers will likely show friends at work the technology and say on a Thursday night where you have to work late it can show a football game that you might otherwise miss.

Sling Media has been aggressive in moving its technology onto additional platforms. It is also available on Android phones and tablets, iPads, iPod Touch, iPhones Windows Phone 7 and BlackBerrys. In addition it has a Windows app and a Mac OS X app.

The company needs to stay aggressive due to the current competition from players such as Apple TV, Roku, and Boxee as well as a number of similar approaches including Xbox 360 and streaming sites like Netflix that seek to erode Sling Media’s original core space.