Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The possible future of sports media?

The Chicago White Sox, or at least a division of its corporate entity, is starting a new web only sports network: CampusInsiders.com. The network has actually cuts deals with some college conferences (such as the Mountain West) to be the exclusive provider of some content – including a handful of football and basketball games, for which the conference altered their new deals with the big boys ESPN and CBS.
Primarily for now I believe the network will mainly be analysis, but as sports are becoming more and more carved up into conference, league, and even school networks it is hard to not see this as the future. If I can throw my computer screen up on my TV what difference does it make to me? I’m not a big user of my iphone for watching sports, but it is not hard to imagine the appeal of that (especially on a tablet for frequent travelers). I wouldn’t necessarily bank on this network, pioneers often go bankrupt, but eventually I see this as a functional model. This one also aims to make money from ads rather than charging members, not the preferred business model in my eyes – there is a reason newspapers are dying (although given the network's content I don’t think many folks would pay – another feature of being new, ESPN put ANYTHING on the air in their first few years). They are trying to partner with conferences to split profits, which might work. I still think the first successful online networks will probably be spinouts from networks (ESPN already had some games online) as they will have name recognition, deep pockets, and already have big games. On the other hand CampusInsiders will have the White Sox connection. It isn’t quite the same as Yes or NESN which are owned by the Yankees and Red Sox, but it does give them a very real sports connection a normal startup might not have. If the White Sox were willing to roll the dice and throw just a few games up there (or let them be simulcast) that could provide a bit of oomph. Given that you can find pretty much every sporting event for free online already anyway I would take that shot if I was them. That is the problem with baseball – we may eventually end up with each team having its own network, but I have faith in the hackers to keep it all free on the net.


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