Into The Turn

It’s not a secret. It’s not even something in your blind spot. It’s as clear as daylight and it can’t seem to get here fast enough. Over the top (OTT) programming replacing traditional viewing. The world of apps and devices like Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire are here to stay but getting content onto these is still a tangled mess. Especially sports content.

ROKUWhy do I bring this up, well Sling TV is killing it this year with March Madness vs last year where there were some capacity issues. Millennials average three OTT subscriptions and Comcast is offering cable packages via Amazon while Amazon is offering ‘Add-On’ subscriptions in Amazon Prime. The world of on-demand entertainment is finally turning the inevitable corner we all wanted it to turn several years ago.

So what’s missing? Well in short, a lot.

OTT sports is still a struggle and that is primarily due to the absurd amount of money that networks pay for sports rights. Some leagues/conferences are in great positions to set precedence and change the game completely. The PAC-12 and Big Ten conferences are two perfect examples.

The PAC-12 Network is not on DirecTV which is a problem. Now if you are a sports fan, you generally have DirecTV because they offer NFL Sunday Ticket. This has been a point of contention for fans of the PAC-12 since the network launched several years ago and is now a running joke with sports writers.

Amazon Add OnTo push further into the turn, why shouldn’t the PAC-12 do a one off subscription like Showtime does with Amazon or how HBO does with Sling? Make their network available for a monthly charge where people can cancel at anytime and not have to have a cable or satellite subscription. The $5 to $8 dollars a month is certainly better than nothing and a whole heck of a lot better than continuing fruitless negotiations with satellite and cable providers.

The Big Ten is beginning negotiations for their rights with the networks now. What if they were to sell a stand alone OTT package? Like the PAC-12, it would be a win-win for both the fans and the networks. Fans could buy a subscription to just the Big Ten for a couple of months during the football or basketball season and the networks could still have the big games on their platforms. Yes people could watch via their cable or satellite provider but now if some regional cable outfit in saw Montana didn’t have a need for the Big Ten Network than they could drop it without a lot of customer complaints.

What if years ago the UFC’s sister franchise, the WEC, wasn’t on Versus (now NBCSports Network), but on XBOX instead? How would that have changed the game?

All it takes is one conference or league to set the precedent and the rest will follow. At some point this will happen. Maybe not exactly like this but in a similar form. Bandwidth and people’s perception is far enough along for someone to make this leap. We are already into the turn, now we just need some luck to push through it.

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