Tuesday, November 17, 2015

More Teams Far From Technically Challenged

It's an interesting trend that while the technology that fans enjoy and the media utilizes in its sports coverage is also becoming more significant among leagues and teams at the same time.
Looks as though the leagues and teams are becoming concerned about even more than trying to control the content which the fans get to see well beyond the increased number of "team produced" features.
Within the past week, both Bloomberg and ESPN have reported about a new partnership between MLB and a company called Sport Integrity Monitor. The London based company now has its first U.S. based league as a partner. In this instance, the public is not a part of the partnership, as the purpose is to provide real time monitoring of betting lines to league officials.
Basically, this service will allow MLB officials, starting with the 2016 season, to have up-to-the-minute data from sportsbooks and what it terms "wagering outlets" from around the world. The reasoning behind that is that MLB officials could detect if there is a major discrepancy in the betting lines among sources within the betting lines, and be able to track when such changes were made.
This is designed to be an investigative tool to allow MLB to monitor in the event of leaks of inside information which could suddenly change one or very few of the betting lines but not all. This is done with the integrity of the game in mind.
Although nothing yet has been announced of a similar nature from any of the other U.S. pro leagues, this does bring to mind the N.Y. Times column from a few months back written personally by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. The column included Silver making a reference to the need to have "mandatory monitoring" of unusual betting line movement.
With this action, and the recent news regarding the future of the major daily fantasy sites, it shows that technology is serving multiple purposes for the teams as well as the fans.
Along these lines, leagues and teams continue to announce technology advances in order to increase and enhance their presentations to the fans, occasionally overstepping media boundaries even though major media sources are paying them a combined billions of dollars.
Fans could also benefit from some of this, although media rights fees and restrictions are likely to add a middle level and probably additional challenges in order to do so. One of the most interesting of these is from a company called Thuuz, which is a take on the word "enthusiastic". The company is in the process of forming partnerships with TV providers and wireless carriers to distribute an app to sports fans.
For example, as a subscriber to a partnered cable/satellite service, your phone could receive instant alerts about scoring plays and key developments from games which are being shown on networks and local stations currently airing on that service. The app they have developed allows users to set up custom alerts for favorite teams and/or games. The "catch" for fans is that they will not be able to acquire the mobile app directly, as it will need to come through a marketing partner.
Several pro teams have already started or are in the final planning stages of enhanced technology within stadiums and arenas as a boost to the fans actually attending the games. Things have come a long way since the days of baseball and football fans bringing a portable radio to the games to listen to the radio call while they watch.
During the World Series, Snapchat, with assistance from STATS, began a feature allowing Geofilters users attending the games to add real-time scores to their photos and some video snaps. This is also available now in a couple of NBA arenas.

The NBA has a new media rights partnership which enables some live telecasts to be available on several international airlines, along with NBA news and related content. This service also includes the English Premiere League and Rugby World Cup. Along these lines, the Sacramento Kings have partnered with a company which allows virtual reality streaming of home games to various parts of the world, targeting fans who could not possibly come to the games.
The Brooklyn Nets are among NBA teams promoting free Wi-Fi in the Barclays Center, basing that on the theory that fans commenting about the game and the arena experience immediately on social media is helpful for ticket and merchandise sales.
At the Verizon Center in D.C., the Wizards and Capitals offer a virtual reality station for fans can put on a special headset during intermissions or before a game and access game and player related content, which the teams also promote via mobile and social media they originate.
Some NFL fans are enjoying in-stadium mobile technology at Levi's Stadium (49ers), with an app showing fans the waiting time at concession stands and restrooms.
This all should raise the question about team and league controlled content and the control about what is being reported to the fans.

LOS ANGELES: Joe Davis, handling play-by-play of baseball, football, and basketball in the relative obscurity of Fox Sports 1 has landed a plum assignment for the 2016 baseball season. Davis has been named to handle TV play-by-play for 50 of the Dodgers road games next season as fans begin to brace for having Dodgers baseball without Vin Scully after next year. The 27 year old Davis is expected to continue with Fox Sports next fall, but chances are a good performance could change all that if the Dodgers wish to retain him. Charlie Steiner will handle the lead TV play-by-play role for the remaining road games, except for those within California which Scully will probably travel to.
It remains to be seen (literally) whether or not more than 30% of the L.A. market will even have access to the team's TV games by next season.

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