Daily Archives: April 15, 2013

Making a bundle

With the rollout of the SEC Network tomorrow, I wonder if one of Slive’s underlings has shown the boss man this timely piece in the New York Times about threats to the current television broadcast model.

Television has thrived on this kind of systematic stacking, but though bundles may be a handy way of protecting things, they also tend to obscure the weaknesses within. Those flaws are becoming more apparent as the practice of bundling comes under attack.

Things aren’t breaking down tomorrow.  And the SEC isn’t in bad shape per se, because it’s got product that lots of people want to watch.

Producers of content can put distributors and programmers over a barrel because the public has an expectation of what will be there when they turn on their televisions. Programming like the Olympics, the Oscars and the National Football League are all seen as almost inalienable viewing rights.

But fissures are appearing and the status quo isn’t sustainable over the medium-term.

Susan Crawford, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and the author of “Captive Audience,” says she thinks television bundles will be with us for a while — six to eight years — regardless of what the consumer wants.

“It’s like the picked-on kid who tries to get home to his front porch; he has to make it past all the bullies first,” she said. “We have a heavily defended, heavily concentrated programming industry and a monopoly in distribution, with none of the big players willing to act like a maverick. No one wants to break ranks because the current system has been so lucrative.”

What you don’t want is to be locked into an arrangement that eventually reflects a defunct marketing strategy.  SEC football may be just as valuable ten years from now, but in a universe where consumers can skip advertising during games, TV broadcast rights/revenue generation may not turn out to be what you expect in the present.  David Carr uses the Masters as an example of how that might play out.

Then again, some of the big attractions on network television are becoming content providers themselves. Like many Americans, I spent this weekend watching the fight to wear a green jacket at the Masters. But a funny thing happened on the way to the clubhouse at Augusta, Ga.: I took a detour. The Masters app, which let me omnisciently check the leader board, scan for my own highlights and toggle between specific groups or holes, sucked me in.

The second screen experience slowly replaced the first — I barely looked up at the television. CBS’s reverent, almost whispered coverage took a back seat as I programmed my version of the Masters. The function that would have allowed me to throw the Internet coverage to my big-screen television was not enabled, but that’s only a matter of time. Change often comes very slowly, but then happens all at once.

CBS paid dearly for rights to the Masters, marketers ponied up to advertise in limited spots and my cable provider paid a hefty toll in terms of retransmission fees, but there I was, staring at the device on my lap, looking at a bright future — no cable, no commercials, no bundle required.

Sounds promising.  Except there’s one difference between the Masters and the SEC.

The conference also gained control of its digital and sponsorship rights that will be rolled over to ESPN as well. That will enable ESPN to have TV, digital and sponsorship rights for the conference under one umbrella. Being able to package TV and digital advertising in corporate sponsorship deals is considered a vital revenue component, and neither the conference nor ESPN wanted multiple partners selling those rights in the marketplace.

It’s hard to say that hitching the SEC’s wagon to ESPN is a bad strategy.  But nobody knows how smart that will look ten years from now, either.


Filed under SEC Football

Spies in the house

Tajh Boyd and a couple of his Clemson teammates donned hats and sunglasses, “threw some red on,” and made an undercover visit to Sanford Stadium for the G-Day game.

If you’re worried that secrets were gleaned that will make a difference in the opener… well, you can relax.

Boyd said he realizes the Bulldogs have speed on the defensive side of the ball.

For that level of insight, they could have saved themselves a trip, found a sports bar carrying the CSS broadcast and read a couple of blog posts.  Of course, it was a nice day to be outside, so there’s that.


Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Georgia Football

Starting head count

Seth Emerson takes a crack at a post-spring depth chart for the offense here.  It’s as good a place to start as any, but I think the main thing it illustrates is that, at least with regard to the offense, all that coaching talk about how most of the starting positions are up in the air is a stretch.

I mean, look at Emerson’s list.  Quarterback is set.  So are the running backs.  The only issue at wide receiver is whether Bennett is healthy by the Clemson game (early signs are indeed promising on that front).  Artie Lynch is your starter at tight end.

All that’s left is the offensive line, and even there, it’s not as fluid as they’d have you believe.  Andrews and Burnette are set.  John Theus is going to start at one of the tackle positions.  Gates will be plugged in somewhere.  The real issue is whether Xzavier Ward is ready to grab hold of the starting right tackle spot.  If he is, Gates moves inside and they’re set.  If he’s not, Gates plays tackle opposite Theus and Lee takes the other guard slot.

The good news to take from that is that there looks to be some real depth on the line for once.  The bad news is that in the spring, that depth didn’t make too much of a difference.  So I guess that’s why the coaches are trying to sell some uncertainty.


Filed under Georgia Football

Musical palate cleanser: Your number or your name

Good read on the O’Bannon case from the perspective of a gamer here.  I particularly like this shot of righteous indignation:

But today, even if you believe that a full-ride scholarship is compensation enough for a major college athlete, it is impossible to fully express the contempt that Adidas and the University of Louisville deserve for monetizing the gruesome injury that Kevin Ware suffered in the regional final of this year’s NCAA Tournament. Those … fuckerssold a $25 t-shirt off of it. It goes without saying not a dime went to Ware or to his medical bills, because of the NCAA rules being challenged by Keller and O’Bannon.

I hope their attorneys bought one of these shirts. It should be entered into the record alongside EA’s study. Kevin Ware is a reserve, the definition of the 75 percent that are supposedly just anonymous enough to not be identified by number alone. But the existence of this shirt puts the lie to EA’s 25 percent claim.

The shirt read “Ri5e to the occasion.” That is an unmistakable reference to Ware by his uniform numeral. That slogan—and good job, good effort to Adidas’ well compensated, collar-popping marketers, coining a phrase I saw in my high school’s weight room in 1988—covers its shame with the same-sized fig leaf that Electronic Arts has used for two decades. That shirt is bought because people see a Louisville No. 5 and understand it is Kevin Ware. Similarly, no intelligent person who plays these video games can look at NCAA 13‘s roster and say “Well, QB#2 at Texas A&M is not actually Johnny Manziel.”

NCAA, this one from The Knack goes out to you.  From 1979, it’s their “Your Number Or Your Name”.


Filed under The NCAA

The 800-pound gorilla puts on more weight.

Now this is power:

Those live games will move to ESPN for the conference channel, which is an important development because it means that ESPN will control the entire inventory of SEC football games, with the exception of CBS’s single game each week. That gives ESPN a lot of flexibility to use specific games in markets where it’s having trouble gaining distribution.

That’s not all it gives Mickey.

I’d welcome our new conference overlords, except it’s not like they just showed up last week.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

Look out, Miami – now it’s personal.

After hearing Mark Emmert take umbrage at Dennis Dodd for Dodd’s criticism of Emmert’s job performance, I’m not surprised by the professional tack the NCAA’s enforcement staff has taken in response to Miami’s claims in trying to get the Nevin Shapiro matter dismissed.

The NCAA’s enforcement staff responded to Miami’s claims and harsh criticisms of the NCAA by lashing back, claiming that UM is “grasping at straws” in an attempt to disqualify members of the enforcement team and that it is “offended” by Miami’s insinuations in regards to the case.

Those comments were made in a 42-page document that Jonathan Duncan, the Interim Vice President of Enforcement, sent to Britton Banowsky, the chairman of the Committee on Infractions in regards to the Nevin Shapiro scandal at Miami.

“Offended”, eh?  Well, there’s more than enough of that going around in this pig of an investigation.

Not that much of that should matter, according to Duncan.  After all, Miami’s already gotten its “sorry, dude”.

“The enforcement staff ‘self-reported’ the [Maria Elena] Perez [attorney for Shapiro who was paid by the NCAA after doing that work, though she contends that she never actually was employed by the association] issue and then cooperated diligently with internal NCAA staff members and the Cadwalader firm to fully identify and disclose information related to the Perez issue. After an external investigation, those individuals found to have had culpability in the matter have been held accountable, and as a united enforcement staff, we deeply regret, have apologized for and are embarrassed by the events and circumstances,” Duncan wrote. “Nevertheless, we will not stand idly by when meritless, personal attacks are launched under the broad brush stroke of ‘enforcement staff misconduct.’

“… Overall, the enforcement staff believes that the institution is again grasping at straws in an attempt to disqualify members of the enforcement team with the most knowledge about the case. Not only are these personal attacks based on no evidence that would support the removal of Barnhart and Hannah from the case, they are also not a basis for dismissal of the case in its entirety.”

See, they’re embarrassed, Miami.  Now take your medicine.

That statement glides by the fact that the staff has had to retreat further in the face of those “meritless, personal attacks”.

The AP first reported Friday that the enforcement staff made one concession that Miami wanted, that being the NCAA’s decision to throw Wright’s testimony out of the notice of allegations.

Miami argued that some things Wright was asked about by investigators in February 2012 stemmed from information the NCAA collected through depositions that Perez conducted under subpoena in Shapiro’s bankruptcy proceeding. The NCAA does not have subpoena power.

So a few mistakes were made here and there.  Broken eggs, omelets, etc., etc.  Besides, the staff isn’t really convinced that the Committee on Infractions has dismissal powers anyway, so what can you do?  Which leads to the topper:

“Based on the foregoing, the enforcement staff believes that the majority of the parties’ assertions in their motions to dismiss are largely based on assumptions, false accusations, misleading statements and meritless claims. However, the enforcement staff would first defer to the judgment of the Committee on Infractions regarding whether it has the authority to act to dismiss a case prior to a hearing. If the Committee on Infractions determines that it has such authority, the enforcement staff believes that the only legitimate argument raised for such action relates to the potential violation of confidentiality involving the public release of Cadwalader report. [Emphasis added.] Nevertheless, even if the Committee on Infractions believes that a violation occurred in that regard, the enforcement staff is uncertain as to any demonstration of harm that would merit dismissal of the case.”

If there had been any harm, I suppose another apology would be in order.

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Filed under The NCAA