Fans own professional sports.
Sure, billionaire owners make deals and millionaire players sign the big contracts. But fans make choices every day about whether or not to care about sports.
Case in point: read the stories about the panic among NFL execs when TV ratings dropped this past season. Even the Super Bowl took a ratings hit.
Fans are distracted. There’s a lot of content from which to choose, and that content is on a lot of different screens. I just did a quick count of the Earnheardt house. We have 24 screens.
To attract distracted fans, the “Big 4” professional leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL) started investing more resources into their online platforms.
This past year, those investments started paying off.
It appears that at least two of the four big leagues found the sweet spot with their platforms: Major League Baseball and the National Basketball Association.
“I really like MLB’s At Bat and NBA Gametime,” said Terry Collins, a reporter for CNET News. “Both have really clean sites, and I can get my share of highlights and data without having to do a lot of searching.”
Collins is the jack-of-all-trades journalist at CNET News. He writes about sports, politics, health and social media. He spent six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area for the Associated Press.
When you think sports and technology, you probably think ESPN or Fox Sports and not CNET. Sure, CNET is probably best known for technology reviews. They get all the cool new gadgets and provide reviews, rankings, and how new technology can actually make our lives a little bit better.
But technology is ubiquitous, and one of the best examples of the pervasive nature of technology is sports. Take Collins’ endorsement of the NBA’s Gametime platform.
“I like [NBA Gametime] because of League Pass mobile and the third option for watching games with practically a courtside view,” Collins said. “It’s a much closer view of the action.”
Collins is a West Coast guy. So another feature he likes has to do with start times for East Coast games, something fans in the Pacific time zone have lamented for decades.
“I really appreciate it because I can catch some of the early games that start at 4 p.m. on the West Coast,” Collins said. “I’m often still at work when games start in the East.”
Collins also likes MLBAM (MLB Advanced Media), and thinks it will be running all major sports sites someday.
“MLBAM is really doing a lot of things, and they’ve become such a diverse entity by working on sites like the WWE,” Collins said. “No wonder ESPN/Disney wants to someday buy a full stake in [MLBAM].”
You can read Collin’s stories at cnet.com, and check out his recent piece on second chances for busted NCAA March Madness brackets.
Dr. Adam C. Earnheardt is associate professor and chair of the department of communication at Youngstown State University in Youngstown, OH, USA. He researches and writes about social media and technology, sports and fans.