Friday Grab Bag: Super Bowl prop bets, anyone?

Sure you have purchased a square or two in the office pool and made a friendly wager on the outcome of the game, but that is scratching the surface. Did you know you can bet on how long the National Anthem will be or if the singer will wear gloves? Will the game go overtime?

A look at which are good and bad can be found in a number of places but I liked the ones published in SportsOnEarth and one that was in Football Outsiders as they give some context to what you should and should not do.

Is the Super Bowl a boon on the local economy?
Every year we see a number of time-honored myths rolled out about the Super Bowl. Top day for avocado consumption. No. Top day for spousal abuse. No. That it is a financial boon to the host city/area. Maybe no as well.

A piece in the New York Times points out that since past predictions of prosperity by the NFL were destroyed once the methodology was public the same might be true now. The current estimate, between $550 million and $600 was determined in secret, they will not say who did it or how they arrived at that number. However advertisers are flooding the host city so that they can be seen prior to the event so maybe they know something they are just not telling us.

Winter Olympics broadcast schedule
In case you actually can watch the games from the comfort of your sofa or a cozy corner pub here is a complete viewers’ guide to the events, when they will be broadcast. It should be noted by figure skating fans that the first events take place prior to the opening ceremony.

For a breakdown on what will be interesting as well as the challenges that the broadcaster NBC could face look over to Sports Illustrated and a piece by Richard Deitsch. Will the network let possible bad news from the surrounding area taint its broadcasts?

Why no respect for American soccer players?
With the World Cup now looming on the sports horizon ESPNFC did a piece on why it seems that European based leagues do not value American players and why increasingly that feeling is being reciprocated.

The nice thing about the piece is that it does not jump to a conclusion but points out how different development systems, short earning window and other factors all play in the decisions that players make in where they want to play.

Another black eye for Sochi?
The upcoming Winter Olympics in Russia has received a series of bad news with intolerance, corruption and potential terrorism issues rising to the forefront. Now a recent piece from ABC shows that there could be another piece of bad news on the horizon.

They are saying that one of the key figures in helping Russia win the games over Austria and South Korea was a man named Gafur Rakhimov. The trouble with Rakhimov is that he is considered by U.S. authorities to be one of the top four or five people in the heroin trade and is under indictment in Uzbekistan.

Winter Olympics Online offerings grow with Comcast move


If you are a subscriber to Comcast’s cable service and use its Xfinity TV X1 set top box and are a fan of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, there is great news for you as the carrier has agreed to live stream all of the events.

NBC has been making a great deal of news with its big expansion of streaming Olympic events and extra programming, so this is really no real surprise since Comcast is the majority owner of NBC, but it had not publicly committed to live streaming the events to its customers.

It plays out pretty much as expected based on the previous NBC announcements. 1,000 hours of Olympics competition will be streamed live from the games in Sochi, Russia. The online content will be double that which is broadcast over the air by NBC and its four cable partners.. Then there will be 200 hours available on video on demand.
There are a few interesting wrinkles in the broadcasts. If you come late to watching an event you can get the video on demand to start at the beginning. An interesting social media hook is a feature called ‘SEEiT” that allows a user to tune into events that are generating large amounts of tweets by simply clicking on the SEEiT button embedded in some tweets.

Comcast has said that the streaming video will be available for phones and tablets as well as connected televisions.

While in the short term this is a great fan of Olympic sports, the bigger picture is even better. With a great number of sports broadcasts now handled by regional and national cable networks their ability to broadcast to remote mobile devices is very important.

Comcast has said that it is using this opportunity to both familiarize its customers with these capabilities and as a test bed to see what works well with its established customer base. Hopefully it can start branching out with other sports, but of course that will take some doing for the major ones that already have some sort of streaming services in place, at least for NFL and MLB broadcasts.

NBC continues to ratchet up digital access to Winter Olympics


We reported earlier on NBC’s plans to provide online coverage of all 15 sports during the upcoming Winter Olympics that start Feb. 6 but the network has announced additional features that will likely thrill many online viewers.

So on top of the already announced 1,000 hours of coverage that the network will be live streaming also comes a host of digital-only programming that it will also make available to verified cable, satellite and telco customers.

While NBC has live-streamed Olympic events in the past this is a new feature that the network has never tried before. There will be three main features of the new programming. The program, which will generally stream from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m. ET will be available as an exclusive video channel on and the NBC Sports Live Extra app.

It will focus on the most popular events of the day, and not as a general news service, more on that later. It will be showing events live such as the ice hockey games and various skiing events. There is also a dedicated Twitter handle for fans that enjoy following it from that angle: @NBC_GoldZone.

The second piece of on-line programming is called Olympic Ice. As you can imagine it will cover all of the Olympic Ice Skating events and news, but as a review broadcast. The 30-minute program will also be available on both and the NBC Sports Live Extra app and will start broadcasting each evening at 5:30 p.m. ET on most days, from Feb. 7-21.

The final program is a general news effort entitled Olympic News Desk Updates that plans to stream update cover the course of each day as well as provide breaking news and highlights after each event.

I believe that the additional streaming programs, as well as the previously announced programming, will be met as a very welcome addition to this and hopefully future Olympic broadcasts. One of the joys of an event, even when you are not present, is to see it as it occurs, or to catch news and analysis of the event after it has just concluded. Most will want to watch events that they enjoy at home on big screen tvs even after they know the final score anyway, I suspect.

If you are wondering how to get verified to watch on-line it is very simple

In order to get verified simply:
1. Go to
2. Click the “Verify Now” button
3. Select your cable, satellite or telco provider
4. Enter the username and password that corresponds with your account
5. Upon verification of your subscription to an Olympics-eligible package, you will be signed in throughout the Games on that device.
It would make sense to do so early since NBC expects that it will have the most devices verified to view the Sochi Olympics for any sporting event ever, most likely dwarfing the 9.9 million devices that were verified for the recent London Olympic Games. You can verify for multiple devices, but must go through the process for each device.

Want to interact with Winter Olympians? The IOC has an App for you


It seems hard to believe that in about three months the 2014 Winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia will begin and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has developed and released an app that will enable fans to follow favorite athletes and sports.

The IOC’s app is called the Olympic Athletes’ Hub and it is much more than a one-dimensional portal into a static web site. The IOC has embraced a host of social media and acknowledged that many of the athletes have a major presence in social media.

The basic function of the Hub is pretty simple, it has created a searchable directory of the social media activities of Olympic athletes and brings them to users of mobile devices, a first for the Olympics. Included will be Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Possibly best of all for some fans is that the app makes the posting a two-way street with fans having the ability to post to the athletes social feeds across a wide swath of social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The IOC started down this path 2 years ago with the Summer Olympics that were held in London, allowing chats between fans and athletes, but it has taken that model and greatly expanded it to meet the growing, and changing usage of social media by athletes and fans.

The Hub provides fans with the tools to search for athletes by country, team, and sport as well as ones from previous Olympics that wish to sign up for the program. According to the IOC it already has 5,000 verified Olympians on board the program.

There is much more than just finding and following athletes. Former Olympians will post training tips that can be “Liked” which will earn virtual medals for these athletes such as Stephane Lambiel and Mark Spitz.

The Hub is just now being developed and the IOC said that it will add additional features to it as the games approach. It is also not just about social media. There will be a section that will direct fans to the websites of the IOC’s rights-holding broadcasters, where users can find their coverage of the Games.

You can download the Olympic Athletes’ Hub app at the Google Play Store or iTunes App Store. If you are bookmarking sites there is the IOC YouTube one, here is the Flickr site and here are Twitter and Facebook.

Just in case any athlete forgets their phone at home each will be provided with a Samsung Galaxy 3 with the app preinstalled. The IOC said that 27 million fans have already interacted with it via its social media.