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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Golden Age of Sports?

After a two year absences, it's good be back writing.  I used to maintain this blog quite regularly, engaging in my passions such as broadcasting, hockey and other stuff that popped into my head.  Then I stopped and lost interest in writing.  I found that when I revisited this blog that I found that writing for me was an outlet and it was cathartic, and I enjoyed doing it. How long Thoughts From The Broadcast Booth Version 2 will last is yet to be determined, but I'm happy to back writing again!   If a topic is worth tackling, I'm happy to do it! There might be some longer reads, or more bullet point versions such as this one.  Most will be sports, or sports entertainment (yep, I like wrestling), and some not.  There will be updates on my own broadcasting adventures, and journey and content on the leagues I cover like the OHL and OUA Football.  Expect anything! So here we go.... 

Media, including sports media,  has taken quite the hit recently.  Technology has made positions redundant or shifted the means of production.  Subscription based models have scrambled to either offer a digital subscription to satiate those who are cord cutters, or have had to accept that revenue derived from a subscription based model just is not going to be as lucrative as it was before when you could count on those signing up bolstering your bottom line.  Ad revenue has shrunk as traditional models are not working for companies and they choose to shift their ad dollars to social media platforms such as Facebook or engines such as Google.    

Through all of this sports, and professional leagues remain vibrant as they seek to increase their revenue streams, build stadiums and arenas, engage in start up leagues or add expansion teams which come with a hefty price tag with the spoils being divided among other franchises.  Sports is Teflon, when compared to other forms of media.  Its live and immediate and much more tougher consume when recorded or on demand, and the content it provides fills airwaves.  

Here in Canada, a new soccer league called the CPL plans to launch in 2019, armed with solid franchises, with stable ownership , probably a relatively lucrative broadcasting deal and an economic model they insist will work.  And you know what?  It probably will work.  Attempts to start professional leagues in soccer have never really taken flight.   This one has fulfilled the promise of being patient with its start up and not rushing things.    That allows the league to pick cities and franchises and give them the time to develop the infrastructure, marketing and revenue streams needed for success.  The CPL will launch with eight franchises , mainly in leagues where there is a CFL presence, and come with CFL ownership.   As long as the seasons do not stretch the consumer dollar, the cross marketing possibilities are endless.    The league fills a void and piggy backs on a game that is played widely in Canada. 

The CFL will add a 10th team it seems in the near future and finally be a true Canadian league from coast to coast.  The move to have the East Coast as a viable entity in the CFL seems to finally come to fruition with a sensible plan, backed by sensible ownership and the stadium.    There seems to be something of a revival in Toronto and Hamilton , cornerstones of the league. New venues that are fan friendly, a Grey Cup win for Toronto , and the star power of Johnny Manziel to Hamilton have led the renaissance.  The CFL has done a crafty job of staying in the public eye in the off season by promoting their draft more, and introducing CFL week in the middle of the off season to sustain fan interest. 

There is even a new Canadian based basketball league coming.    Even the NBCL lurches from season to season with more lives than a cat, this new league billed as the CEBL (Canadian Elite Basketball League) fills that they can fill a void that the NBLC has not filled.     That league, headed up by former CFL star and Hamiltonian Mike Morreale will launch likely with six teams next year.  Franchises are confirmed in Hamilton, Guelph, Niagara , Saskatchewan and BC, with more to come.   

Meanwhile, in the NHL while Quebec remains the girl dressed up for prom with no date, Seattle has muscled their way into the league and looks certain to be the 32nd franchise.  Quebec did everything right.  They had solid ownership, a beautiful, modern arena, and a passionate hockey market.   It's biggest problem is that it's Quebec City, a city with limited ancillary revenues streams and a smaller population.  Seattle gives Gary Bettman a coveted spot on the west coast, a large potential audience to draw from and ready made rivalries with Vancouver and the California based teams.   Building on the wildly successful venture into Las Vegas in which the arena has been full, the fan base passionate and the branding has been outstanding , Seattle hopes for much of the same.   Though, a Stanley Cup Final appearance might be too much to ask.   

Leagues are growing. Content for sports media and broadcasting is growing.  There are more options than ever for fans discretionary income.  Will these new franchises, leagues sustain themselves?  Or will we writing about their demise ?  Only time will tell. 

Steve Clark 

1 comment:

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