Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Army Training! Sir!

Armed Forces Bowl replaces the Fort Worth Bowl
Let's face it it isn't difficult to find a better name than Fort Worth Bowl.

Poinsettia Bowl wants to invite Army but their is the question of the Black Knights winning 6 games. They have higher standards than all but two other D-I schools. It's a tough sell, smart, talented and willing to put themselves at risk. On second thought maybe given the above requirements Army, Navy and Air Force should get automatic bowl bids.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Taking A Win For Grant----ed

As this blog has noted the financial (near) imperative to have 7 and even 8 home games in the new 12 game season has resulted in a bidding war for the sacrificial lamb schools most of whom resided at the bottom of the pre and post season rankings. The poster child for this cash grab with which to build your program is prominently featured in a the New York Times In College Football, Big Paydays for Humiliation . As discussed earlier in this blog, the University of Buffalo failed to notify West Virginia University this past spring that they will not be showing up for the game scheduled for September 9, 2006. This action left WVU scrambling for a team any team to fill the void. Eventually I-AA Eastern Washington (a team that would have a good chance against UB) was contracted at a higher price than originally promised to UB. The contracts in college football are written with a cancellation clause which is best exercised by contacting the other party, something UB and the MAC failed to do. And by the way WVU is still waiting for the $200,000 check for canceling although it is not know if the UB or the MAC name will be on it.

Florida Atlantic has an brief home schedule with just four games and as detailed in NCAA Financial Reports Database 2004-05 the team had an income from ticket sales of $270,722 but as the article details will pocket $1.8 million for being a home game win for Clemson, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, and South Carolina during the first four weeks of the season. When those kids finally play UL Monroe they are either going to be surprised and relieved to be playing against an equal or so beat up as to unable to play.

Try to think of how to word that pre-game speech just before the Owls take the field to face the Gamecocks…neither can I.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Off Topic Picture of Personal Interest

Monday, August 21, 2006

Pretzel Logic

Webcasts a boon to school sports

We take the concept that advertising pays programming for granted but, in the early days of radio the plan was for the revenue from the physical radio would pay for the programming. The success of the CBS web broadcast of NCAA basketball tournament showed that fans want choice and are willing to watch a less than perfect picture over the Internet in order to see their team. Before N.C.A.A. v. Board of Regents Of University Of Oklahoma (1984), the NCAA controlled the television broadcast of college football games so the only change was to deregulate the market with the associated growth. (Those of you too young to remember please read this article and try to imagine that world of college football.)

Marketing 101 teaches that there are four P’s: product, price, promotion and place. Place is not only the location that the product but the system used to get it there. Not the most glamorous element with the warehousing, distributors, brokers and alike but these are important or even vital to a products success or failure. The Internet revolutionized the availability of a wide variety of specialized products as it offered a low cost method of bring buyer and sell together. For example, Unique Pretzels (the darks or slight burnt variety is strangely addictive) are not available much outside of central Pennsylvania. Yet, with the Internet anyone can view and order these truly unique snacks. The only problem is in a crowded marketplace getting attention is difficult and the Internet for all its benefits does not allow sampling.

The small colleges that are looking to Internet to show their games may face the same issues. Streamed video is a bandwidth hog and the picture is by no means HD ready Downloaded video best suited for very small screens and faces file size issues. The modest subscription could offset some of the cost with communications and sports management majors providing free eager but possibly flawed labor. So a Big Sky game is on the Net on a Saturday afternoon may be playing to a small audience of parents and alumni. But then this isn’t a mass market product rather neat little niche and it isn’t 1984 again.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Inventory Part 3--Ghouls at the Gate

Any day now, if not already, your local store will set up display of Halloween costumes and candy. As October progresses and the inventory dwindles the remaining product will get spread out so those showing up on October 30 will find a thin veneer of Milk Duds, Rolos and candy corn covering the shelves. Gone are the Reese's, Snickers, and Butterfingers so rather than bringing in product, the store just sells what you got.

ESPN has a problem in October with baseball over and the NFL Sunday Night game now on NBC the programming shelf is bare. The solution as you are no doubt aware is the playing of college football on Sunday Night. The games begin with Northern Illinois at Miami (Ohio) on October 8 and ending November 5 with Southern Miss at Memphis (with Morehouse at Miles on ESPNU). After that date the new inventory of college basketball showing up to fill the shelves very much like the Christmas candy filling up the space where the Halloween candy had been. Tradition was that college football games were played on Saturdays but the fans with their remotes have approved of every other day of the week even pushing past the protests of Friday night for high school games.

Major League Baseball had a tradition of taking Sunday Night off but ESPN changed that… It is easy to blame ESPN but if there were no eyeballs on the screen the product would not exist and rest assured that someone actually likes Milk Duds or at the very least is willing to buy those few bags for the ghouls that will show up at the door, even on a Sunday night.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Taking Attendence

In terms of dollars the number of tickets sold is the most important number. Whether anyone occupies the seat is only important if the product being put on the field is the issue rather than the extreme cold or driving rain. Lokk at it this way if you buy a Big Mac and don't eat it. McDonald's still made money. The concern should be the reason you did not it the sandwich. Although Marketing 101 will give all four equal billing PRODUCT is the most important of the four P's. The better the product the more people will seek it out. A bad product will not sell regardless of pricing, promotion, or place.

Name of the Gate--A good article on counting fans.

MAC Attendance Problems and the solution is to bundle the tickets.

University of Buffalo and other not meeting the 15,000 minimum

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Deacons Close to Condo Idea

Wake Forest has plans to add a seven story tower to Gove Stadium. Given that Wake Forest had the #79 attendance (out of 117 teams) with an average crowd of 28,924, this may look to be folly. But from a business perspective this addtion make a great deal of sense as it offers a dramatic increase in revenue without requiring that Wake attract larger crowds. It is easier and cheaper to retain customers than to acquire new one so why not empty the loyal fans wallet first.

As suggested before this plan is one step away from adding condos to your alma mater's football palace.

Modifications that should also be considered:

  1. An underground parking garage with valet service
  2. Two penthouse apartments on the roof (the lights must be moved)
  3. A Starbucks on the ground level
  4. Several DiamondVision screens over the opposite side of the stadium
  5. Remotes for the DiamondVision

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Inventory Part 2

Keeping with the Wal Mart comparison begun in Inventory Part 1, a strong customer has the power to demand that goods be revised to meet their needs. Need proof? Go to your local Super Center and note the bonus packs that will not be found else where.

Disney Sports can also demand custom packs such as being the driving force behind the University of Michigan v. Vanderbilt University game for opening weekend 2006. As the tennessean.com article details Vandy was reluctant to cancel the game scheduled with MTSU but the power of the dollar changed their minds. Not as a slight to either institution but where is the sizzle in the game? Will the spin be: Upstart Vandy with a 5-6 record in 2005 against the Wolverines, giants of college football? More cynically the truth might be an attempt to put the Wolverine on ESPN with a slightly better or more interesting match up (ratings wise) then a MAC team.

John Auburn Strike Again

New Mexico State University exercised the clause in their contract with Oregon State University and cancelled the visit scheduled for September 1, 2007. The reason has Johnny Auburn has done it again, after making Buffalo a very attractive offer earlier this year to dump the game scheduled in Morgantown and instead book a flight to Dixie, they now have made an even more attractive offer to New Mexico State University that is canceling a 2007 date with Oregon State.

In 2004 NMSU had football revenues of just over $2 million with a loss of about $1.5 million (per information provided at indystar.com) The lure of $900,000 represents a strong incentive to break a promise and sell your team to the highest bidder. Auburn for there part after missing out on the National Championship game because a 1AA team on the schedule will pay what ever it takes.

How would you write this on E-Bay?

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Inventory Part 1

ESPN interview of Dave Brown V.P. of Scheduling, “games naturally spread themselves out and then you move a game here and there to make sure you have enough inventory for every weekend.” ESPNU Insider Podcast.

A fall Saturday to a college football fan is precious with memories created and renewed upon the green of the field. Yet in a recent interview on ESPN podcast Dave Brown from ESPN referred to these games as "inventory". Much as your local Wal Mart planned for Back to School early in the year by placing orders for backpacks, pencils, jean, calculators, shirts (with clever text) and junk food for bag lunches ESPN has ordered up inventory.

A Wal Mart buyer can look at last year sales, trends in the business and with a great deal of accuracy know what to order and send to each store. The exception to this rule is the fashionable and trendy items. What will be the must have frivolous item of the year? And how can we make it so the consumer buys in? In the same way ESPN orders games to fill the blanks on the master schedule and many conferences can't finish the schedule without the ESPN approval.

ESPN (Disney Sports) is no different the Wla Mart they know what will sell and how to squeeze the suppliers to get what they want. FSU v. Miami on Labor Day is an example of the manipulation for broadcast with the added benefit of allowing for loser redemption (although this “traditional game” may change in the near future). This also display via ads the next big thing to come on ESPN. On Game Day there is a script hype the current fashion teams to watch.

Next time you settle in to watch your team for that make or break games or even watch casually with an outcome you don't really care about. It isn't a game, contest, or even entertainment you're consuming inventory.

To directly connect.

ESPN podcast directory

Part 2 Creating Inventory
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