The World Wingsuit League Jumps into Action backed by Red Bull China

While the news of a new sports league often seems like old news being just an imitation of an existing sports league, the World Wingsuit League, that leaps into being tomorrow in China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park seems assured of not being another knock off pro league.

The league is kicking off with the Tianmen Mountain Grand Prix Wingsuit Race where contestants will start the race by jumping off a 900-foot cliff, which you have to say is very different than how most sporting events begin.

The event is brought to us, not surprisingly, by Red Bull China, and will feature 16 athletes dressed in wingsuit who will not just leap off of a cliff but then complete a three quarter mile long obstacle course while flying. While maybe not quite the Red Bull Stratos experiment this looks like a real thrilling and exciting event.

They will fly around a course marker platform on the ground below that is roughly the size of a tennis court seconds after jumping, then swoop down the mountain and under the tramway cable finish line before opening their parachutes and landing at the mountain’s foot.

Just doing the jump once seems like an award winning feat and that is really just the start. There will be two rounds of two runs each with the first being an elimination round with all 16 wingsuit pilots, then a finals round with the top eight. Gold, silver and bronze medals will be awarded to the top finishers. In addition, the Grand Prix champion will earn $20,000, 2nd place will win $10,000 and 3rd place will take home $5,000 while the fastest time gets a trophy.

From the images posted at its Facebook page it looks like in the practice runs the athletes are diving into a fog bank. I am pretty sure that there is no way you could get me to do that. So far the fastest round in the qualifying rounds was by James Boole and his time was 23.83 seconds

I think this looks like a great event and one that I would be very happy to watch but unfortunately it looks like it will only be broadcast live in China. The WWL said that it is working hard to get a live streaming video of the events that will take place on the 13-14 of this month, but so far no news. You can follow the league on its Facebook page. It also has a YouTube channel but it does not say if that will have live video.

Red Bull Stratos Jump: Will Conditions Ever Be Right?

If there ever was a deflating event it was Tuesday’s non-launch of the Red Bull Stratos experiment, which purports to use a big balloon to lift daredevil Felix Baumgartner some 20 miles into the sky, a height from which he will attempt the highest free fall ever.

But after being scrubbed Monday the Red Bull crew tried to get Baumgartner off the ground Tuesday — but after some limp inflating of the balloon high winds perked up and the whole thing was called off. Apparently the gusts also twisted the balloon enough to make it structurally unsure, as Red Bull said in a blog post:

As we inflated the balloon and got Felix into the capsule at about 11:42 we experienced gust of wind …that took us to above 22 knots at the peak of the balloon, that caused a spinnaker effect on the balloon billowing, which twists the balloon in the launch arm, the integrity of the balloon at that point is really unknown and unacceptable to use for manned flight because we were not sure what would happen as we launched.”

According to another blog post Wednesday there are some real complicated weather parameters that all need to fall into place for the launch to take place, leading us to wonder if this thing is ever going to happen — or if it ever really was in the first place. There’s a lot of interest in this stunt, as evidenced by the numbers of viewers on the live YouTube channel — which at one point hovered near the one million mark, which has got to be a YouTube record even though nothing was happening.

The non-cynic in us sees the immense amount of marketing money Red Bull has put into this effort and says, yeah, they really plan to do this. And apparently there is a second balloon at the ready, so another launch attempt is possible. But the jaded side of us says — you need to have perfectly still weather in the desert in the fall? Good luck with that. Stay tuned to the Red Bull Stratos page for more launch updates, the site says now that the launch is re-scheduled for 7 a.m. Mountain time this Sunday but this may be one of those things like the Maverick’s surf contest, where they wait for months for big waves that might not happen. We’ll keep watching, so stay tuned here at MSR for the latest when we see it on the Red Bull site.

YouTube and Gillette Team up for Soccer Channel

Gillette Football Club

YouTube continues to become an alternate source of sports programming for fans and its latest effort is in partnership with Gillette to create the Gillette Football Club, a channel that will focus exclusively on soccer and its fans.

The sports channel will deliver on demand high definition video to soccer fans and is designed to enable fans to register to follow their favorite teams and provides goal and highlights for the teams as well as other league highlights including stats from a player, team or league.

It allows you to follow the English Premier League, Ligue 1, Serie A (both Brazil and Italy), Eredivise, SPL, MLS, La Liga, Ligat Ha’Al, Ekstraklasa and Bundesliga players and teams and will also show select highlights from international matches.

However it provides much more including videos of interviews with top players and team personnel as well as other features including football shows. Several high profile teams are creating content for the channel including one called Copa90 Allstars where skills and ball handling tricks will be demonstrated by top footballers.

While the programming is free, all you need to do is register, the site will be filled with advertisements from Gillette, but that really seems a small price to pay.

YouTube has been increasingly pushing into sports as an alternative to broadcast sports and had a wide variety of the 2012 Summer Olympics events available in much of the world as part of its partnership with NBC and has invested approximately $200 million in marketing its growing number of channels.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, impact this has on broadcasters such as Fox Sports and ESPN, both of whom have been increasingly focusing on the growing interest in the US as well as trying to leverage the already great demand for the sport worldwide. It seems to me that the Gillette Football Club, with VOD, is a much better avenue for fans to get updates than to rush to their TV when a network has a scheduled program that does essentially the same thing.

Will we see an ESPN or Fox team with YouTube in the future or will they seek to launch their own rival highlights program online. Whatever happens it seems to me that fans will benefit from increased competition and the resulting growth in exposure the sport receives.

Michael Strahan Debuts Twitter Video Project: #StraysTakes

Michael Strahan is a busy guy these days — in additon to being Regis’s replacement on one of the bigger morning TV talk shows, today he debuted an interesting Twitter-based project called #StraysTakes. Produced in conjunction with Verizon Wireless and its NFLMobile app, #StraysTakes looks like it will be a series of well-produced video takes on football-related topics from a guy with serious playing credentials and a budding career as an entertaining video presence.

Today’s inaugural episode, posted above, is Strahan talking about being a fantasy football rookie — love his line about why he wasn’t into fantasy before (because he was busy playing football in reality). What is interesting to us here at MSR from a business perspective is how quickly we are seeing a combination of Twitter/YouTube projects surface where Twitter is the promotional/user finding end, and YouTube is the distribution channel. Though it might not be threatening ESPN just yet this combo has a lot of legs when it comes to allowing players, teams, brands and other independent promoters the ability to craft some compelling content, and then find viewers without having to go through any of the traditional broadcast channels.

Mobile Sports Report TechWatch: Windows 8 apps, Motorola’s FTC Issues

Just days after Apple received an injunction banning Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1 being imported into the United States Apple has received a second injunction against Samsung. U.S. District Court Judge Lucy Koh, who granted the first injunction, has also granted one that prevents the sale of Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus smartphone.

As with the first injunction Apple must first post a bond, this time $96 million to cover damages if the case is ultimately decided in Samsung’s favor. The judge ruled that it was likely that Samsung infringed on four Apple patents.

FTC looking at Motorola patent licensing practices
The Federal Trade Commission is looking at how Motorola licenses its patents with an eye out as to how the company deals with licenses for its patents that are adopted as industry standards. The FTC has sent investigative demands to the company this week, according to Electronista.

The FTC is examining if Google is living up to its requirements to meet fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) licensing of the patents and follows a similar investigation that has just been opened by the European on FRAND violations. A ruling against Motorola could have a major impact on the various lawsuits it currently has ongoing with rivals such as Apple and Microsoft.

HP eyes business with next generation tablet
Hewlett-Packard has said that its first Windows 8 tablet will not chase the consumer market but will instead be focused on the business side of the industry. The first offering will run on an x86 processor and run Windows 8.

It does possibly also plan on offering an ARM-based system that will use the Windows RT version of Windows 8 for consumers but has not publicly committed to that move just yet, according to PCWorld.

Asus to release Audio Dock for Nexus 7

Asus, Google’s manufacturing partner for its Nexus 7 has said that it plans to release an Audio Dock for the tablet later this year. According to Pocket-Lint it will be designed to look as if it is part of the Nexus 7 and will also come in black.

The dock will be designed to charge the tablet as well as hold it upright so that a user can watch videos at the same time, according to the article.

Pebble smartwatch unveils SDK

The Pebble e-paper smartwatch, the poster child for Kickstarter success stories, has taken its next step to mainstream product with the release of its software developer kit at the Google I/O show last week. It will be interesting to see if the support from the developer community matches the huge support it received from individual investors.

Upcoming Summer Olympics fuel increased spam

Silicon Angle is reporting that there has been an upsurge in spam that is seeking to exploit fans interest in the upcoming Summer Olympics in London. Seeking to plant malware on your system or just pushing some product that you have never heard of or care for it does not matter, they are coming for you.

According to the article, the number of message titles is large and growing. An example includes:
• 2012 Games Entertainments Co-ordinator
• 2012 Olympic Draws
• 2012 Olympic Promo
• 2012 Olympic Promotion Board United Kingdom – South Africa
• 2012 Olympics, A Lottery For The Future
• 2012 Summer Olympic Lottery
• 2012 Summer Olympic/Paralympic Games

Microsoft thinks global with Windows 8 apps
Microsoft has said that when it starts shipping its upcoming Windows 8 operating system users in 180 countries will be able to have access to the growing number of apps being developed for the operating system. While the list is a work in progress the company said that most nations will have access to ts Marketplace and App hub. According to PC Mag, apps are currently available in only 63 countries for the current Windows Phone and Windows 7 operating systems.

Nielsen starts tracking top YouTube Channels

Nielsen has started tracking streaming video on YouTube’s growing family of partners and the first results are in about who is included in the Top 5 . The race is led by Vevo, followed by WMG, Machinima, Fullscreen and Maker.

The names in some cases might not ring a bell, but the traffic is enough to make you stand up and take notice. Vevo has 695 million streams and 41 million unique viewers! Maker, the #5 drew in an impressive 9.6 million unique viewers. All of this is just for the month of May, 2012. One interesting tidbit was that more than half of the viewers to each channel were under 35 years of age.

PGA: All Tour TV Coverage Will be Simulcast Online and Via Mobile Apps in 2013

All the live coverage of PGA Tour events next season will be shown simultaneously on the tour’s digital platforms, including via its mobile apps and at the website, a tour executive said Wednesday.

In a phone interview with Luis Goicouria, the vice president of operations and business development for PGA Tour Digital, Goicouria said that for the 2013 season, all live tour TV coverage will be simulcast online, giving mobile and web-connected fans the same experience as those sitting in front of a TV. The expansion of live video content, Goicoura said, is a direct response to fans’ desire for more mobile content, especially live video of tournament play.

“Our [online + mobile] video content consumption is going through the roof,” said Goicouria, who said that tour-hosted video starts are up 81 percent so far this year over last, and YouTube views of archived videos has increased 94 percent in the same time frame. Currently, the Tour offers its “Live@” program for 10 selected tournaments during the season, typically the bigger ones like the recent Memorial tourney. The Live@ production is separate from and typically less comprehensive than any network coverage, though of similar production quality. According to Goicouria, the Live@ broadcasts typically attract between a half-million and a million video streams per event.

The Live@ coverage typically focuses on one or two “scoring” holes or signature holes, like the island green at the Players Championship. Though it doesn’t offer the breadth of coverage a typical network broadcast from partners Golf Channel, CBS, NBC or ESPN does, the Live@ shows aren’t chopped liver either.

“It’s not like we just slap a couple webcams on a green,” Goicouria said. “It’s a full-blown studio production.”

But Goicouria said the costs associated with such production keep the tour from rolling out Live@ at every stop. Unfortunately that leaves online-only or mobile-centric fans behind their counterparts on the couch when it comes to live video. Next season that ends, with the digital platforms (the website, as well as the iOS and Android apps) offering simulcasts of the live TV coverage, as well as Live@’s additional focus at the selected events.

Goicouria also said that the tour is working to make its addictive Shot Tracker feature (screen grab below) available for mobile devices, but didn’t yet promise a delivery date. Shot Tracker, which gives real-time updates on a tournament field by showing how far a player has hit a shot and how far he has left to the hole, can be mesmerizing, with players’ statuses constantly updating. The main reason it hasn’t been available for mobile platforms, Goicouria said, was due to the fact that the application was built with Adobe Flash, which isn’t supported on Apple devices like the iPhone or iPad.

“If there was one thing I wish we had for mobile that we don’t, it’s Shot Tracker,” said Goicouria, who pledged a “complete revamp” of the feature for next season.