I Want to Watch My Favorite Teams

An interesting thing transpired this week out in the San Diego market. Major League Baseball teams here in the US have traditionally relied on local networks to broadcast the majority of their games to the fans in the team’s region of the country. So, for example, I live in the NYC metro area so the Yankees and the Mets are broadcast locally via YES and SNY respectively – cable networks partially or fully owned by the teams themselves. Out in San Diego, where the Padres play, the broadcaster Diamond Sports Group (who operates as Bally Sports) a few weeks ago failed to pay the licensing fee to broadcast Padres games. Once the grace period to pay the fee expired, Diamond Sports Group effectively, and apparently willingly, broke their contract and rescinded their rights to broadcast Padres games.

Diamond, the Sinclair subsidiary that operates under the name Bally Sports, skipped its payment to the Padres a couple of weeks ago and had until the end of its grace period on Tuesday to make the team whole and maintain their long-term agreement. Choosing not to meant Tuesday’s game against the Miami Marlins was the last Padres game under the Bally Sports umbrella. Moving forward — starting Wednesday, continuing through the end of the season and resuming in perpetuity — MLB will air Padres games through its streaming service and on different cable channels.

MLB will provide Padres games through its MLB.TV app for free through Sunday. After that, in-market fans can continue to stream games for $19.99 a month or $74.99 for the rest of the regular season on MLB.com and Padres.com (postseason games air on national platforms). Through this process, Padres games will no longer be subject to blackouts. Local fans can also watch Padres games through a variety of cable providers — AT&T U-Verse, DirecTV, Cox and Spectrum — on a different channel. fuboTV will also continue to air Padres games through its platform.

In a release issued late Tuesday night, MLB stated that the new approach would increase the Padres’ reach from 1.13 million to about 3.2 million homes within the team’s TV territory.

Alden Gonzalez, ESPN

What we are seeing here is the the first crack in the local/regional sports broadcasting ecosystem as a result of the rampant “cord cutting” that is happening around the country and the world. The significance of this can not be understated. We may very well see a few more teams/regional networks suffer the same fate and that will mean that the league(s) will start to take over “local” broadcasting services. The economic implications on the league will be very interesting to watch as the sky high valuations of many MLB teams have historically been tied to the value of the regional sports networks that the individual franchises have huge stakes in. If those broadcast rights shift to the leagues, how does that impact the individual teams, especially if the streaming subscription dollars do not add up to the ‘per household’ fees traditionally paid through cable packages?

Another interesting element this highlights and also brings into focus is one that has been around forever – the fact that not all fans of said teams are located in that region of the country. I am a displaced New Englander who lives in the NYC metro area. For as long as I have lived here, the only way I have been able to watch the Red Sox on broadcast or cable TV has been if the Red Sox were playing the Yankees or Mets (or the Braves on TBS), or if they were being broadcast nationally (regular season and/or playoffs).

If I wanted to be able to see all the games of my favorite teams – basically to mimic what I would be able to watch if I was living in New England – I’d have to subscribe to ‘league pass’ services from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and drop an additional $750/year. And that’s not even counting if I’m a soccer fan where an MLS subscription would be another $100 via the new Apple TV+ deal or that the English Premier League has many games broadcast on NBC’s Peacock premium streaming service.

If I wanted to be able to see all the games of my favorite teams – basically to mimic what I would be able to watch if I was living in New England – I’d have to subscribe to ‘league pass’ services from the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and drop an additional $750/year. And that’s not even counting if I’m a soccer fan where an MLS subscription would be another $100 via the new Apple TV+ deal or that the English Premier League has many games broadcast on NBC’s Peacock premium streaming service. Or, I could just move back to the New England region.

Syracuse Hoops Players In The NBA

NOTE: I have started to contribute posts and articles to the Syracuse fan site Inside the Loudhouse. My first article published today and is titled “Syracuse Orange Hoopsters In the NBA“. An excerpt from it is below.

Through all the years that Jim Boeheim has been coaching men’s basketball at Syracuse University, he has never had a problem attracting basketball talent to the program. Many ‘talking heads’ have said that Boeheim has not done enough with the talent that has come through the program, but that is a discussion for another day. When a program like Syracuse attracts such basketball talent, the inevitable question becomes how many of it’s players make it to ‘The Show’ (aka: the NBA) and how well prepared are those players for all the demands at the professional level?…

Read the Full Article at Inside The Loudhouse.

What Are The Chances?

With LeBron and the Miami Heat winning a 2nd NBA Championship in as many years (the Heat franchise has won 3 in their history), the inevitable talk is if the Heat can win it all next year, and what their legacy is within NBA history. Everyone’s favorite statistician Nate Silver from the NY Times 538 Blog has actually taken that conversation a little further and asked what is LeBron’s chances of matching Michael Jordan’s 6 NBA Titles.

Players like Jordan and James are so rare that it can be risky to compare them to anyone else. Still, one reasonably useful benchmark is to evaluate players who, like James and Jordan, had won at least one Most Valuable Player Award and at least one N.B.A. title as of their age-28 season, meaning that they had achieved the pinnacle of both individual and team success.

It’s tough to say exactly what James’s odds of catching Jordan might be, as the average conceals a wide range of outcomes among the individual players. Four of the players on the list – Magic Johnson, Moses Malone, Bob Pettit and Dave Cowens – would never win another championship after their age-28 season. But four others – Jordan, Bill Russell, Bob Cousy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – would win four or more additional tiles.

While he does not definitively say one way or another if it is statistically possible for James to catch Jordan, he does hedge by saying that while the chances are small, it could be possible for James to snag an ‘easy’ one or two later on in his career depending on how he adjusts his game as he gets older and if the circumstance he finds himself in is optimal for winning a title.

And from the analysis, I was probably most surprised by the realization that all the championships that Magic Johnson won (5 of them) happened before his 28th birthday and after that, he never won another championship. Of course, having to retire prematurely doesn’t help things but still.

via Nate Silver’s 538 Blog on NY Times.

I Want My Apple TV

Apple

Actually, I already have it. And I love it.

I’m bringing this up because Crunchgear reported that ATV has sold ~2 Million In about 7 months. Clearly I’m not alone.

What I’m liking is the on demand element of the service. Whatever I want to watch is only a few clicks away. Its seamlessly integrated with Netflix, YouTube and many of the top video podcasts out there. I can easily buy/rent movies from iTunes, although Netflix somewhat solves for that. And it enables me to connect to online services like Flickr and other “cloud” services. One big downfall has been the lack of support for “have to watch live” events like sports…but that was recently solved with MLB.TV and NBA League Pass announcing deals with Apple where you can stream any and all league games via Apple TV. For someone like me who’s a Red Sox/Celtics fan living in pseudo – enemy territory (New Jersey…but I do like the Knicks. Long story.), this is a huge win.

But what really pushes it further for me is the seamless integration with the iOS “ecosystem”. Drop a movie in iTunes, and you can easily stream it to your TV via ATV. Want to listen to your music in your TV room via your surround sound speakers, just navigate to your music library and hit play.

I’m not going to get all “tech pundit” on you and say you “have to get it”. Go get a Roku box if you prefer. But go try it. Its only around $100 for either ATV or Roku. You won’t be disappointed.

Those Who Forget NBA History

Are bound to repeat it.

And it is eerily so with the NBA’s Portland Trail Blazers. How could they make the same crippling mistake, not once, but twice?!?

Back in 1984, they famously passed over a 6’6″ shooting guard from the University of North Carolina (er…Michael Jordan, only the greatest NBA player ever) to select the often injured Sam Bowie out of Kentucky. I think we can all figure out what happened.

Fast forward to 2007, where the Blazers again had a top pick and decided to take Ohio State’s Greg Oden over Kevin Durant from the University of Texas. Since then, Durant has blossomed into one of the top stars and players in the NBA. As for Oden? He missed his entire rookie season because he had knee surgery on his right knee. And yesterday, it was announced that Oden will be out for the remainder of this season because of knee injury on his left knee.

Once again proving that Destiny can be an evil bitch.

MJ Hits The Hall

Today, Michael Jordan is being inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame, along with C. Vivian Stringer, Jerry Sloan, John Stockton, and David Robinson. ESPN has put together a compilation of the 23 best moments of MJ’s career (Note: ESPN could have done a better job of this page by making the videos play continuously instead of the way they have it, which requires the user to click on every clip).

Asleep In Seattle

Recently it was announced that the Seattle Supersonics have moved to, of all places, Oklahoma City. (I won’t even go into the shock that Keven Durant must be having, going from an energetic city like Seattle to, with all due respect, a sleepy plains city like OKC.) But come on, could they not have done a little bit of a better job with the new team name and logo? The Oklahoma City Thunder? Thunder? What Thunder?. The logo is terrible. The team name…eh…its up there with the Magic, Wild, and Thrashers as inanimate objects masquerading to be sports mascots. Come on folks of OKC, could you not have gone with Cowboys? Yes, its boring, but OKC is a cowboy town.