March Madness, a double entendre

Today starts College Basketball’s March Madness. Sixty-eight teams due battle over the next few weeks in a tournament that makes the World Cup seem puny in terms of scale, (but not pageantry or importance or anything else, mind you). Today, there are 16 games going on. The same amount will be played tomorrow.

It should be said immediately that this is college basketball. Not the NBA, not the Olympics, not anything that resembles the pinnacle of the sport. If there was a football comparison, it would probably be the U-21’s.

Yet the magnitude of the event commands a $10.8 billion contract over 4 channels. And subsequently (to make sure each game can be seen, i.e. further ad revenue) each game is streamed online. That’s right, EVERY. SINGLE. GAME.

And I’m not even going to get into the free aspect of this.

Below is a screen shot of one game. If you were to click on any of the scores up top, you are taken to that game.

If I fiddle around a bit, I can now do six different things at once. ADD, here I come!

I’m not trying to make this some ethnocentric “USA!, USA!” post. But as Rich wrote in an email to me that spawned this post, it’s absurd that this potential, this new media, is so neglected. As someone who works in nonprofit media, with a miniscule budget, video and new media is everything. Taking the same path as FIFA, UEFA, EPL, et al, would mean my firing or the organization’s bankruptcy. End of discussion.

Tell me, if given a similar opportunity, you would watch a Bournemouth game now with Lauri Dalla Valle scoring goals, right? Or an MK Dons match to check in on Keanu Marsh Brown? Or, at some other point, an FA Cup ‘gamecenter’ where you can watch all the various games occurring at the same time. Surely you would.

I know the EPL, Football League, et al are all separate entities, but it is crazy to think that in this technological age, the “best league in the world” still can’t even televise games at a certain kickoff time. Or allow highlights on its website(s)*.

Yet here, with an “amateur” sport, every single came is viewable because of the massive television contract. The same goes for college football, which recently signed a $500 million contract with ESPN for just five games, and all the other professional sports. Hell, the other day I was streaming a college lacrosse game.

My apologies if I’m rambling or talking in circles. It’s so just exasperating it’s actually really difficult to fully collect my thoughts.

So how long until the powers that be, the same that demand video technology report results within nanoseconds and under top secrecy, adopt these mechanisms, 10 years? 20 years?


*Just go to the NHL’s website. Or NASCAR. Or any other “minor” sport here that isn’t the crème de la crème here. Now go to the Premier League’s website.  See a difference? The EPL doesn’t have video, anywhere.

11 thoughts on “March Madness, a double entendre

  1. It just does not look like it will happen anytime soon with most of the leagues money tied to TV rights, Even more frustrating is on set top box or internet ready tv or blu rays I can get NBA, hockey, NFL, cricket, fast pitch softball, Irish sports network, MLB random sports from India but no soccer league or soccer channel. I pretty much ask fox soccer weekly but they want the games only on a computer from their on line offerings.

    We can bet in America, I live in Santa Fe and am about 30 minutes from about 7 Indian casinos, not including office pools, pools set up my the UPS guy, and race track sites.

    1. Well, you can legally bet in Nevada and Oregon (sort of), which is America… but the Indian casinos are on “sovereign Native American land.” So there are, technically, only so many places in the United States that you can legally enjoy a bet on the game.

      As for gambling, our views on it in the U.S. are incredibly silly. I’ll give a great example for my home state of Pennsylvania. Despite heavy opposition from “family values” groups against the idea of casinos being allowed in Pennsylvania, everyone knew that a limited number were going to be legalized a few years back.

      FURRRRTHER… we also knew the silly path it would have to take to become legalized, as the exact same set of circumstances occurred in West Virginia prior to this happening.

      First, you’d have to open it as a slots parlor, as pseudo-opposition lawmakers would only approve of a minor slots parlor while avoiding nefarious table games. Slots aren’t as heathen as craps, after all. After that, there was an incredibly opaque process of awarding the slot license that involved a disturbing amount of politicking. So, everything was eventually opened up but… wait, what’d everyone find out? Oh yeah, the casino is boring without table games.

      So they got legalized a little while later. No surprises, just inanity in the name of protecting our morals.

      Or how about internet gambling and the insanity over that? It’s not illegal in America, but what the Feds did was make it so that payment processors (the companies that run credit card transactions) were not allowed to run payments for gambling online. So, in this really convoluted scheme, the clamps have gradually been tightened. Players still play, and legally, but they have to jump through a bunch of hoops, inconveniences and total lack of regulation in order to do it. Silliness.

      /rant over.

      1. Not to totally hijack this thread, but the same thing is happening here in Maryland.

        Like with certain drug legalization, just approve it, tax it to bonkers, and get it over with already.

  2. Take this from a Yank- Other than FIFA World Cup no other sporting event means as much to me as March Madness- You can compare it to U21’s all you want but for me and millions of other basketball fans this is the purest form of the sport. I do not watch NBA or Olympic basketball and I live in a city with a NBA team that I’ve never bothered to watch on tv or attend a single game. High school basketball is played in every small town in the States, and each of those kids no matter their skill level hope to some day play in this Tournament of 18-22 year olds for one of the 345 schools who are eligible to partake – in many ways this is our FA Cup.

  3. I fully agree Timmy.

    There is massive revenue potential for a club like Fulham in increased broadcasting –

    more money from sponsors
    more money from merchandise
    more money from TV/Internet itself

    The only argument against is attendances falling, but we all know that ticket sales no longer run clubs, so what is the hold-up?

    Frustrating. The PL should be doing everything in its power to let this happen.

  4. Seems to me that if the television revenue increased then falling attendances could be counter balanced by lower ticket prices.

    I’m probably just being over hopeful but that appears to be a win-win for me.

  5. Fifa and the FA could learn so much from the on demand march madness service (so happy it works in the UK! and a smart move for developing a worldwide audience for the tourney) and I think everyone agrees it’s embarrassing for our sport that we’re even behind non-professional US sports in not having referee video replay/reviews. Come on, it’s the 21st century! My options for saturday as I don’t have ESPN are to find a poor quality stream of the game online or find a pub that is playing Fulham over 6 nations. With all the time-outs/fouls/two minute warnings etc in american sports there are more opportunities for advertising but there must be a way around that for football as well. Now back to ….

    COYW! Rock Chalk!

    1. Good to hear it’s viewable in England. I was a little worried you may be blacked out per se, and so this post was a little void, but smart move on their part.

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