Sports Bulls & Bears: NFL lets fans watch, Wildcats' dominance hard to watch

 

 
 
 
 
Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

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VANCOUVER — Sorting out the major winners and losers of this week — with a bottom-line twist — in the world of sports:

BULLS OF THE WEEK

With honourable mention to the five Canadian NHL teams still in the playoff race with two weeks to go in the regular season, the National Football League announced some bullish moves at its annual meetings this week, both related to the way North America’s biggest league will distribute content in the years to come.

The first move saw the NFL confirm there will be no blackouts this coming season, the first time it has ever announced that since the heyday of blackouts in the 1970s. It will mark the second straight year without a blackout, which is good news for fans and long overdue. Blackouts should go the way of the dodo bird in all major leagues (including the CFL). That will make teams work even harder to improve the fan experience in-stadium to make it worthwhile to fight traffic, pay parking and buy tickets to games instead of watching in HD in the comfort of their living rooms.

The second move is also overdue but even bolder in the way the NFL is getting into online streaming. The league announced this week that the London Wembley Stadium game on Oct. 25 between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars will be live-streamed globally on NFL.com — and for free. It will be seen on television only in the Buffalo and Jacksonville markets (representing well less than one per cent of the U.S. population). This sets up a major streaming rights deal down the road with an Apple, Google, Netflix or Hulu and will provide yet another revenue and content stream for the NFL.

The league hasn’t paid attention to this until now because it hasn’t had to; its regular television platform is already worth more than $7 billion of its $12 billion in annual revenues and is the biggest and best in North American sport. The NFL.com experiment finally puts the league in the spotlight when it comes to technology and the future of Internet streaming.

BEARS OF THE WEEK

NCAA March Madness is a sport business winner in every sense of the word, but the tournament took a bit of a hit this week when the University of Kentucky destroyed the University of West Virginia 78-39 in the most lopsided Sweet 16 game in history. That kind of domination is more common — and perhaps acceptable — in the regular season and in the earlier rounds of the tournament. When it happens in the later rounds, it plays havoc with fan interest. That’s a problem this year as the Wildcats march toward the Final Four as prohibitive favourites, running the risk of turning off fans and tuning out big ratings for the final three rounds.

Tom Mayenknecht is host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week every Saturday in The Vancouver Sun.

 
 
 
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Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and the TSN Radio network, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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