Monday, June 1, 2009

PPV for Streaming Ultimate? I say No way! (right now)


Another great post from Jeters asking people about whether or not they are willing to pay to watch ultimate content live via web streaming.
Photo Source:

Clearly, Jeters and the majority of his readers have a different take on the issue than I do. I really don't think the game is ready for pay per view streaming for a number of reasons.

  • I don't think Ulti Village has the quality/reach of product, and it is not ready for pay per view streaming.
  • I don't think the market is as big as people think. Not only do ultimate players make up such a small percentage of the population, but the number of elite players and those that follow touring ultimate is even smaller. If touring players take that painful step back into the real world, they realize this.
  • I think we need a lot of work organizing how TV/web rights before we move forward. Who has the rights and how are they bid on? How long can the footage be used? How are the funds distribute among partners (national body, host org, company)
First let, me say how much I enjoy UV clips and the tournament dvds that have been produced. By the way, I'm looking for the CUC 2007 finals for stat analysis. If you have the open/womens/masters/coed finals in full... I will gladly go through each game and post on the findings.

You know how much I want to see video in the sport. I promote the idea of ultimate based companies and for all of us to dream big on ideas. But, I feel the need to speak up when I see bad ideas rolling forward. I tried showing streaming video on a HDTV of Worlds 2008 and CUC 2008 to non ultimate people and it was a grainy, slow failure (CUC had some terrible commentators too...).

I don't have any amateur data to share, but I can point to the local NHL team as an example of a sensitive pay per view market. Several seasons ago, the team went with 10 pay per view games. They marketed the heck out of it, talked about great HD viewing and special segments to make it worth their while. The market flat out rejected the concept. Instead of expanding the PPV games to 17 (as the Vancouver Canucks had done) the Sens drastically cut back on PPV. The market would not bear.

Pay per view via Ulti Village TV? It's not ready for prime time. It's certainly not ready for asking people to pay. The market still needs to be developed and grown, not harvested. Maybe the market needs to be rethought and repackaged.


Jeters said...

The comparison to a major sport, and the idea of market seem to be a little off. I think pay-per-view in it's Ultimate infancy would sit on the following axioms:
- the market could sustain maybe 1 or 2 people with a job
- the quality isn't an issue given there is nothing to compare against

In theory, your costs are then about 50K in salary, 50K in equipment and 15K in travel (very quick estimates). At 10$ a tournament you need 12,000 views to make a living. The question then is that reasonable? I estimate that there are 1500 readers of my blog, and I'm just a small part. It seems plausible.

I, like you, would like to see better commentating, quality, etc. but I would argue that much of these will happen because of entrepreneurship, and not so much grassroots growth.


Sport Management Steven said...


1500 readers on your blog a day? When do you get your first Whiskey ad Mr Jamieson?

Assuming your axioms/scenario:

-50 K in salary/year
-50 K sunk cost in equipment (Does this include everything from field to computer screen?). If so, some of these costs will be yearly.
-15K in travel per year. (This depends on how many trips/tournaments). You need to figure hotels, meals, vehicle rentals.
-You also need to figure in broadcasting rights, sponsorship fees. Sooner or later, the host org and UPA/WFDF will discover they should get a piece of the action.

So really, you start to see that the 1-2 man operation needs more than 12000 views (some which can be repeat customers I might add) just to get to break even. That's a lot of viewers Jeters. Yes, you have 1500 readers. But you do good work. And when people like me go to your site, we don't have to make a purchase decision.

And like I said, we're still in the stage where we should be building up the market of viewers before we try to draw from their wallets.

Sport Management Steven said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sport Management Steven said...

I am not a fan of MMA or Dana White, but if you hear what he has to say about UFC and how they went after boxing/wrestling markets, you might be a little more inclined to think pay per view, at this time in ultimate, is a bad idea.

They gave free TV in a time where Boxing is PPV eveything.. and they not only built up the "sport" (shrug) and the characters, they expanded the business and profit margins.

Jeters said...

Good point on the rights. I forgot that part.

The free release with payed viewing is what UltiVillage does now, and I expect they would do the same for ppv. The difference is the price point, and since Rob is already making these DVDs, he must have figured out a model that works. Why not charge 5$ for a tournament?

12,000 is a lot of views...Maybe with a little bit of sponsorship this number would go down. Still, I'd like to see more coverage. Do you know what they're going to do at Canadian Nationals this year?

Sport Management Steven said...

I have no idea what they are doing at Nationals. I'll look into that.
Hopefully it will have extensive coverage and solid commentary.

Should the UPA and CUPA be taking a step back and looking for a viable second tier media partner (CSTV, Amateur Sports Network, Mediazone, etc. I know we can't roll with the top media groups at this point, but maybe we can make the experts of the sport (UV) work with firms with better reach/assets to the public.