Tag Archives: television

NBC Striking Out with Premier League Soccer Coverage

My name is Clint Brasher.  It has been 2 years since I have subscribed to cable…

That’s right — unplugged.  We stream our content. Bought a HD antenna at Best Buy ($70) for local channels.  My kids were watching way too much tv — usually just drifting to find something.  We have discovered that, with streaming, the kids (and adults!) only watch what they want to watch when they want to watch it. In other words, they do not sit around watching television for no purpose (goodbye Disney channel, Nickelodeon, etc.)  No more channel surfing.  Content-specific viewing is the wave of the future — and cable and satellite are fighting it at every turn.  I will refer to cable and satellite generally as Dial Up since their packaging is a vestige of a bygone era.

Look, cable had its time.  When I was growing up, we had 3 channels.  Then, when I was in 5th grade, something miraculous happened — cable television.  Someone figured that people wanted to watch more than just three channels.  Back then, there were only 2 movie channels (HBO and Showtime — 1 channel each).  My first night with cable I saw Eddie Murphy Delirious and Cheech and Chong’s Up In Smoke (not sure where my parents were).  It was bliss!

ESPN was introduced — albeit a fledgling program.  Back then, it did not have the right to broadcast any meaningful sport.  WGN introduced me to the Cubs.  Life was good.  There was no internet, not ability to watch television other than cable.  The year was 1982.

Satellite television was around in that era — but not how you know it today.  People that had satellite (like my uncle in Mississippi) actually had a satellite installed on the ground.  It was big and white.  To be accurate, you manually rotated it.  My first memory of DirectTV was 1999.  We received it for Christmas.  Again, even in 1999, high-speed internet was not widely available so there was no option to stream.  Your choices were cable, DISH, or DirecTV.  That is not the case today.  Like big oil squashed early efforts at the electric car, cable and its progeny are doing everything they can to thwart content-specific purchasing of programming.  How are they doing it?

They do it by locking in major broadcasters to their service, limiting their ability to sell on the open market.  For example, ESPN3, when it started, was a free streaming service anyone could use.  If you had high-speed internet and you wanted to watch programming on their site, you could do it.  And, if you were advertising on that site, wouldn’t you want it that way?  BUT, cable has wised up to this — beginning a couple of years ago, they closed that loophole and now require evidence of a cable subscription to view content on ESPN3.

And that is what NBC is going to do too.  NBC is bragging on the web that, “for the first time” ALL EPL games will be available for viewing.  What they bury in the details is that you can only access those games to stream IF you have cable or satellite.  I miss you already FoxSoccer2Go!

Fox, who has had the contract in the states for years, allowed people like me to content-select.  In other words, I did not want to subscribe to cable but am willing to spend money to pay to watch soccer.  So, FoxSoccer2Go provided a subscription so that, provided I paid my fee, allowed me to watch soccer via the internet.  Do not be fooled by NBC’s claims to provide such a service.  What puzzles me, though, is why wouldn’t they?

Why not sell individual streaming packages to people interested in the product?  There can only be one answer — various cable companies, DirecTV, ATT U-Verse, and DISH have paid NBC not to allow it.  How ironic that these losers are the same people crying foul on piracy.   They are inviting it.  Shame on the Premier League for not preventing NBC from tying their product to cable.  What do they care — they got a quarter of a billion dollars — for that kind of money, who cares who is watching it.

So, here is a breakdown of NBC viewing platform for EPL soccer this fall per their tweet:

81 RETWEETS 23 FAVORITES
Here is what NBC Sports Network says:

All games not aired on NBC Sports Network will be made available to cable, satellite or telco TV providers through a package called Premier League Extra Time, a package of overflow television channels available at no extra cost for each of their customers who receives NBC Sports Network. Check with your provider for specific channel and Premier League offering available.

NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA

Every Barclays Premier League match will be streamed live via NBC Sports Live Extra, online at NBCSports.com/Live Extra and on iOS and Android mobile and tablet devices with the free NBC Sports Live Extra app. There is no additional charge for this service, simply login to NBCSports Live Extra using the Username and Password you use on your providers website. If you do not have, or do not know your Login information contact your service provider.
As you can see, while “all” games will be available, cable/satellite subscription is required. No “a la carte” sports network subscriptions available.  Yet, their motto is, “watch live, anytime, anywhere.”  (There will be a few games broadcast for free — whatever games they show on their basic NBC station will be available for free streaming; so, it makes sense, they are broadcasting very few games on their major network).  Try to get access to the NBC Sports Network without a cable subscription.  Like I said, I miss Foxsoccer2Go already.
How do you get those channels?  I called DISH network to inquire what it would cost me in packaging to have those channels.  For starters, they do not sell a package that bundles these stations together.  And, since I was willing to subscribe again, I also wanted FoxSoccer (because they still have all the Champions League matches) and BeIn sport (which shows a lot of US qualifying matches, Serie A, Ligue 1, La Liga, and nPower Championship, and other soccer).  But, to just get the NBC stations in the tweet above, through DISH you have to subscribe to their 250 channel package (their largest).  For DirecTV, the 285 channel package.
“No” you cannot subscribe directly with NBC Sports Extra.  Well, what about BeIn sport?  You may ask, can I subscribe directly to BeIn sport?  The answer is NO.  Cable won’t allow it — they throw back a few cents/subscription to BeIn to get the exclusivity.  On BeIn’s webpage, when you click “subscribe now” here is what it says:

Bring international sports to your home.

Subscribe now! Contact your cable or satellite provider to get beIN SPORT today!

Link.

What a joke.  Cable is fighting to the last man to keep their monopoly on broadcasting.  Thank goodness for Netflix and Amazon Prime.  Content-specific viewing is the wave of the future — cable is trying to keep us in a “dial up” era.  Content specific viewing is a threat to their business.  You see, cable are just middle men that deliver the content.  Now that the technology is easily available, they do not want us contracting directly with the providers — they want their “middle man” fee.  And you can trust they will fight to the death to keep it since they offer no services of their own.

Happy sailing.

We Need to Watch More Soccer – You Can Start Today!

Let me start by stating I am a recovered fantasy football (american version) addict.  I am 5 years sober.  When I was at my peak, I didn’t watch football, I devoured it.  Simultaneously watching 3-4 games at once, I would watch each of my players perform, whether they be for the Dallas Cowboys, Cleveland Browns, or, yes, the Washington Redskins.  As an addict, I should have known I had gone too far when, in a game between the Cowboys and Redskins, I rooted for Michael Westbrook (and celebrated with him) for catching a scoring a TD against my lifelong favorite team.  Fantasy football ruined by football watching experience – it is hard now to even make it through the game.  But, it is not the only reason that I do not watch football anymore.

Yesterday, I told my wife that I wanted to watch the Cowboys play the Seahawks.  I have been uninterested in any professional game the last 5 years, to say the least.  I would have never expected this years ago, but I am just one of many average fans whose only complete game they watch per year is the Superbowl.  (And I like the commercials as much as the game!)  I feel less of a man for even admitting to such.  So…yesterday I tried watching.  But I just couldn’t get into it.  Start, stop.  Commercial.  Start, stop, huddle, penalty.  I lasted about a half of a quarter before I retired to my room to continue my new passion – The West Wing. I am on Season 3.  And, while I love The West Wing, I also enjoyed watching the Arsenal v. Southampton game from Saturday, even though I knew the result.  No commercials.  No huddles.  Very few penalties (we call restarts).  Beautiful shapes and geometric play by Arsenal.  It was a pleasure and a breath of fresh air.

I cannot believe I just said that.  I remember I used to be the one making fun of the soccer fans.  I was puzzled as to how they could defend soccer against the modern-day gladiator, made for TV, NFL.  But here I am.  And my message to all of you….WATCH MORE SOCCER.  As we are trying to alter the culture of soccer in our country, even from a play-paradigm, we need to watch more soccer.  It is one of the big items missing.  Even among our soccer volunteers and referees, very few of the ones I know are interested in talking about soccer, what is happening in the professional leagues or World Cup qualifying, or watching it.  Our soccer IQ and that of our children can be raised immediately if we just watch the game more.

For coaches, if you want your kids to understand the game better, have them watch the game.  Support your local college.  Watch it on TV.  We are dawning on the beginning of a golden age of televised soccer access — between ESPN3, FoxSoccerTV, FoxSoccer channel, we have access to MLS, EPL, La Liga, Serie A, World Cup Qualifying, etc.  The great thing about soccer is, unlike our other sports, you can watch it 10 months out of the year.  For parents of soccer players, sitting down and watching the game with your kids will help you better understand what it is that they are doing.  Since many of our soccer players are first generation players, parents can catch up on the tube or computer.

So, back to the title…the wonderful thing about soccer is that it gives all year round.  Like today!  Today starts the group stages of the UEFA Champions League.  Yes, it is European (no MLS teams), but it is a club tournament of the best teams from all the professional leagues in Europe (including Russia).  So, if you are wondering how strong La Liga is (is it just Barca and Real Madrid), check out Valencia playing Bayern Munich tomorrow.  How strong is Serie A (Italian premier league)?  Well, their champion play Chelsea tomorrow too.  What about La Liga and the EPL (English Premier League)?  Their champs play TODAY!

The group stages comprise 32 teams in groups of 4.  Each team will play each team in their group (home and away).  They are mixed up so that EPL teams are not in the same group as other EPL teams, etc.  They are also spread out according to a UEFA formula based on UEFA tournament success in prior years.  Unlike American football or baseball, soccer is a sport played all over the world.  So, beginning today, you can watch the best Danish club, the so-called Barcelona of Denmark, match up against the EPL, Croatians, and Serie A heavyweights.  There are some fun story lines:

1.  Can Chelsea repeat?  Chelsea are the improbable returning champions.  They won with a defensive, countering strategy, conceding possession to the Spaniards then the Germans in the final.  They have reloaded with Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Victor Moses, and Oscar ($87 mm pounds combined).  Will the stregthening of their midfield line mean we will see a more creative, offensive Chelsea?  Are they stronger than they were last season?  In another great Round 1 match, Chelsea play the Italian champs Juventus tomorrow.

2.  How good is Barcelona without Pep Guardiola?  As you all know, Pep stepped down.  So far, so good for Barcelona.  They are 4 for 4 in La Liga, sit atop the standings, and also defeated Real Madrid in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup under Tito Vilanova.  They added Jordi Alba and Alex Song, a personal favorite, in the transfer window.

3.  Who will miss the cut in the group of death?  Group D consists of Real Madrid, Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund, and Ajax.  So, the winners of the strongest three leagues in Europe all in the same group!  You cannot ask for a better kickoff today than Manchester City traveling to Real Madrid.  What a game.  But, can the two-time consecutive Bundesliga champs parlay their domestic success into European success?  Watch out for Dortmund – although they lost Kagawa, a magnificent player, to Man U, they added Marco Reus to an already deep squad.  Reus, just 23, is already a German international.  He scored in the Euros and looks poised to replace Podolski on the left wing for the national team.  Just two teams from this group survive.  Come on Dortmund!

4.  Is the Danish teamNordsjaelland

Nordsjaelland

 the David in the tournament of Goliaths?  They have been referred to as the Barcelona of the Denmark premier league.  Roughly half of their team plays on the Denmark national team.  Will they be the success story of the year?  Follow them in Group E for your David v. Goliath storyline.

5.  Is Arsenal stronger this year than last?  Arsenal, while never lifting the Champion’s League Trophy, have always had success.  When RVP left, people wrote them off.  But, as we have seen the last couple of weeks, Podolski can score and Cazorla will be the Player of the Year in the EPL – unbelievable that he attracted so little attention in his signing.  Their play the last two weeks at Anfield and at home against Southamption was magnificent.  With Cazorla dictating the pace, angles, and geometry of the attack, look out.   Arsenal travels to France today to play Montpelier, the returning French champion and the team for which Olivier Girourd, another Arsenal pickup and winner of the Golden Boot in France last season.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

6.  Will all of PSG’s purchases result in Champion’s League success?   Surely you heard of all the purchases at Paris St. Germain in the offseason:  Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva from AC Milan, Lavessi from Napoli, Lukas Moura from Sao Paulo, Gregory van der Wiel from Ajax – in total, $160 mm spent on transfers.  They started the season with three draws but have won their last two.  Will their retooling mean success?  Are they the new European power?

7.  How good is Bayern Munch?  Real good.  While they did not make all the big splash headlines of the other clubs, particularly the English and the Spanish, they did make a big signing: Javi Martinez for $40mm, the largest transfer fee in Bundesliga history. They didn’t need much.  With arguably the best keeper in the world, Manual Neuer (26), and the formidable front line of Gomez (27), Ribery (29), Muller (23), Robben (28), Kroos (22), Schweinsteiger (28), and their backline anchored by captain Lahm (28), Boateng (24), Badstuber (23), Alaba (20), and Gustavo (25), they were already set.  Add Martinez, who can hold at mid or support, and it may end up being the signing of the year (after Cazorla!).

8.  What’s up in Russia?  So, you thought the transfer season ended August 31 – that is if you set your calendar to EPL times.  The Russians have a different date and Zenit St. Petersburg secured two of the hottest players, in their peak years (not as +30s), from the Portuguese Super Liga: Hulk and Axel Witsel for $57mm combined.  While Witsel will not play this week, Hulk will and you can count on him to put it in the net.  It is not odd to see big hames head East, it is odd to see them do it in their early 20s.  Either of those players could have picked their team in the EPL.

So, there are just a few things to watch for.  A full schedule of games kicks off today around 1:45 pm.  Check out foxsoccer2go  if you want to watch them all (except for the one on their main channel, foxsoccer, they black that one out).  Some helpful links:

foxsoccertv.com

champions league home page (has all the standings, tables, etc.)

Enjoy your day today and WATCH SOME SOCCER!  My prediction, as last year, Bayern Munich.  Just too much depth and strength and a world class keeper!  You heard it here first!