I'm not a guy that necessarily wants to make fun of people for one little typo... wait a sec, of course I am!
One would think a person who portrays themselves as the most notable and passionate Boston sports fan on the planet would theoretically be careful to be correct in what he says regarding said Boston sports teams. One would also think ESPN's most popular writer, Bill Simmons (a man with almost 1.5 million Twitter followers), would want to double check the info he's pumping out on a regular basis. Finally, one would think a tweet observing the "high comedy" of a misspelled tattoo (is it really that hilarious?) would not mistake a Bruins player for an ESPN New York writer. And yet, Bill Simmons passed none of those tests Monday.
You see, Andrew Marchand is a senior writer at ESPN New York. Brad Marchand is the Bruins player that had "Stanley Cup Champians" temporarily tattooed on his arm body. How Simmons got the two confused is a bit perplexing, unless it was a conspiracy from the Bristol overlords to feed more page views to their regional sites. Seriously, why else would we ever link to ESPN New York? Simmons fessed up to the gaffe minutes later...
Usually a tweeting snafu of this order wouldn't be worthy of a second glance, but this isn't the first time The Sports Guy has come under fire for his lack of attention to detail regarding the Bruins. During the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he called Rich Peverley "Patrick Beverly." He was also called out as an obvious bandwagon fan when he suddenly showed up with ice level seats wearing a snappy Bruins sweatshirt during the playoffs.
Simmons does seem to have more than his fair share of typos and factual errors in his columns (see Deadspin's Grantland correction desk). And yet, his history of errors regarding the Bruins cut deeper than others. it seems that Bruins fans hold a special sort of grudge against Bill Simmons for jumping on the B's bandwagon like he was Blake Griffin leaping over a midsized sedan. Simmons has fallen all over himself gushing about his Boston persona - penning column after column about the Red Sox, Celtics, and Patriots over the years. Hockey was rarely even on his radar. All it took was a Stanley Cup championship to get the Sports Guy fully on board with the Bruins. The transparent, fake, Speidi-like nature of it all likely gave serious Bruins fans this reaction. (There's your obligatory Simmonsesque pop culture reference.)
With his latest snafu, Bill Simmons would appear to have even more work to do to patch up his standing with Bruins fans. The whole Bruins fans vs Bill Simmons dynamic is ironic coming from someone who has made millions of dollars off his reputation as a hardcore Boston sports fan and once wrote this:
There's nothing worse than a Bandwagon Jumper. If sports were a prison and sports fans made up all the prisoners, the Bandwagon Jumpers would be like the child molesters -- everyone else would pick on them, take turns beating them up and force them to toss more salads than Emeril Lagasse.
Ladies and gentlemen, your Boston Sports Guy!
Weaknesses - No experience with the World Cup- Don't have the means to challenge Univision without Comcast- Don't have a dedicated sports cable channel. No surprise there. They don't have enough content to create one- Would need additional investment to handle the responsibility of doing the Spanish World Cup telecasts.- Might need new commentators and announcers by 2018 (even 2015)
Telemundo needs massive investment and infusion of talent to handle the World Cup. MLS was on that channel a long time ago but that's now well behind them. Univision still has rights to them until 2015. I really don't know how the NBC Sports Group will use Telemundo. One theory would be they would be a gloried SAP device for NBC, sort of like how GolTV would have English and Spanish teams for the same matches. In any case, they're a true underdog in this fight. Hey, Andres Cantor could announce Women's World Cup games. It costs nothing to dream, right? ;)
Comcast/NBCU (Telemundo network, perhaps Mun2 or a dedicated Spanish cable channel for the World Cup)
A real unknown at this point. What could Comcast do with Telemundo that NBC haven't tried before? Andres Cantor may not be there by 2018. The earliest competition Telemundo may get their hands on if they win is the Women's World Cup in 2015. In any case, they're going to have to beef up their sports division in anticipation of any win. The earliest competition Telemundo may get their hands on if they win is the Women's World Cup in 2015. In any case, they're going to have to beef up their sports division in anticipation of any win. They do have Chivas and a few other Mexican clubs. And boxing. A long-shot, even as part of a joint-bid.
Needs- Basically to raise their profile in sports programming. The World Cup would be a major boon for them, especially when during the summer weeks. Couple that with Olympic sports and you'd have a one-two punch that would put a dent into Univision's dominance in sports.
Strengths- As part of the NBCU family of networks, Telemundo is somewhat shielded from competitive pressures- Demographics can sustain them for some time- They like and want fútbol as well- Chivas (the real one) home games
Weaknesses- Should have entered the cable sports market sooner. Now ESPN Deportes and Fox Deportes, as well as GolTV have a good head start on them- Could Univision find a way to back out of their commitment to MLS without jeopardizing their place in the World Cup? They would rather air something else and earn back the money they've spent so far on MLS- Anything Mexico has been good for Univision so far. However, that has left a large swath of Latinos open for the taking, making possible for such channels as GolTV to be viable.- Lack of English SAP may deny them the possibility of gaining non-Latin viewers for the Mexican league games
They're very difficult to dislodge. Univision is as close to a sure thing, much more than ESPN, as possible. FIFA knows what they're getting with them and, unless someone deep in the bowels of Zurich develop a huge problem with them down the road, they keep the same relationship. Univision's announcers aren't my cup of tea (a few guys in Colombia do it better, but that's just my preference;)). So I just watch it in English.
I'm going to continue with Spanish-language bidders:
Univision (Univision network, Telefutura, Galavision[US], Univision Deportes[cable], FutbolUnivision[streaming])
Far and away the network most associated with the World Cup. They've had a head start on Telemundo and have not relinquished its position since. Recently, they made a deal with Televisa to reduce their debt load in exchange for an increased Televisa share. So Univision and Televisa are even more tight. Mexico games and Mexican league games are their bread and butter in sports. We can't imagine life without that content on the air. So in Spanish-language, they have no real competition. However, the new NBCU might pose a problem for them if Comcast puts in major money in a possible combined bid for English/Spanish, using Telemundo.
Needs- Keep its leadership position and grow with the demographic changes- Enter the Spanish cable sports market in a big way- Keep relations with Televisa cordial
Strengths- They love and want fútbol. Diehards who can get them know where to turn to for when they need a fix- Demographics. Need I say more on that?- More coverage than Telemundo- Has two networks already and a cable channel for replays
Weaknesses- Only recently have they announced a move towards airing events live, in whatever platform. Too late to stop Wimbledon from going to ESPN- History with soccer spotty. Not much is known what the new NBC Sports regime would do with soccer. They really needed an extra year to refine their sales pitch- Comcast has a poor reputation for quality of service and cost- Comcast lacks the worldwide assets of Disney and News Corp. FIFA may not look at that favorably- Reorganization of NBC Sports into the NBC Sports Group is still recent. Time may be against them now
If this was 2012 and Garber and Gulati are thrilled then NBC would have a real chance at winning. Today, FIFA's timing goes against them. Having more hours available at NBC Sports Network should provide US Soccer a great opportunity to reach more people. That is, unless it's still Versus and them hunting shows and WEC Wrekcage reruns still have to be aired somewhere. :rolleyes: Somewhere in the back of my mind, there is that feeling that FIFA may have blown this opportunity for us by going early before we can compare MLS coverage between ESPN and NBC. If NBC botches it, then we would breathe a sigh of relief. However, if they do a bang-up job (yes, it's still possible) and get no World Cuppy reward then we'd add another to the list of things to get angry at FIFA for. Let's also keep in mind that we're talking games in Russia and freakin' Qatar. I doubt we would see ratings records being broken here in the States. There's a good chance that ratings would be lower than Brazil 2014. Either of the three bidders would bring things that the fan would like and things that the fan won't like. I believe that mobile, wi-fi and streaming will be major players in 2018. TV as we know it will be history, replaced by something very different. Maybe more interactive, more direct-to-home. If we could invent a way to shield people from being spoiled of results, then this could take off like a rocket.
Comcast/General Electric (NBCU joint venture) (NBC Sports Network, NBCSports.com[digital], NBC television network[probable], likely one other cable channel, such as CNBC or USA)
General Electric sold 51% of NBCU to Comcast. Comcast may buy GE's share down the road. But let's assume Comcast is running the show. NBC is well-known in the world of television, although they've hit rough times lately. Olympics is their signature sports property as of now, as well as NFL and NHL. Only in the recent months, after a change in the leadership at NBC Sports, have they decided to dip its toes into association football, with their deal for three seasons of Major League Soccer games and certain US Soccer games. Should they win, it would be a remarkable feat, from having virtually no soccer programming except for Olympic coverage to having the right to air the most popular soccer competition. This alone would mark a major coup for Comcast in its desire to be a more viable competitor to ESPN. Not that soccer is becoming a major sport soon but it is said that the FIFA World Cup is only compared with the Olympic Games in terms of global interest. For NBC to have both would counter any ESPN claim to dominance, when you add the fact that ESPN has yet to air the Super Bowl.
Needs- More and better quality programming for the NBC Sports Network- NBC to turn around its fortunes- Convincing US Soccer and FIFA of its ability to provide quality soccer coverage- Success for the new NBC Sports Group
Strengths- NBC under new, more capitalized ownership- Several Major League Soccer franchises already deal with Comcast Sports Net- USA Network, the most successful mainstream cable channel to date- Experience in major sports events like the Olympic Games- Comcast has assets in both content and distribution that could be used to offer subscribers special deals during big events
Weaknesses- Quality in terms of presentation and commentary in all sports, not just soccer, is said to be lacking from opinions of several fans- Quality of dedicated channels (including digital) for soccer is fair to mediocre, according to opinions- Scandals involving various executives at News Corp may affect perception, although I doubt FIFA could say anything about it and be credible- Doubts over whether there is genuine interest in becoming a premiere destination of soccer in the U.S.- Affiliates may pose problems for Fox when they schedule soccer programming on network television- Fox Soccer recently lost the rights to several MLS and US Soccer games after this year. How would that affect the perception of News Corp?
Although they currently have the ability to leverage their worldwide assets to assist in the presentation of FIFA World Cup matches, it is not clear whether the people at Fox Sports would take advantage of that or whether News Corp allows them to. Fox Soccer is a niche channel dedicated to a specific group of fans. It is hard to vision them being a home to the FIFA World Cup now. They could still be used to air ancillary programming like World Cup news or interviews. As long as the Murdoch family is involved in News Corp, many soccer fans are wary of Fox having to do with soccer. Fox has a better shot at winning than people think but they may not think they can match the resources that Disney (through ESPN) or Comcast (through NBC Sports) could muster.
Here are now their challengers:
News Corporation (Fox Soccer, FX, Fox Deportes, FoxSoccer.tv[digital], FoxSoccer.com, Fox television network[probable])
The people that not only brought us Fox Sports but linking up Sky Sports with Fox Soccer, easing the flow of EPL content from there to here. Fox Soccer is like a sanctuary for (many) soccer fanatics in one of the few countries that is hostile to the sport. The name means what is says: nobody who doesn't want to watch it should order it. That's the beauty of it! Should they win the TV rights bid, and they have a better chance than people here think, Fox would have a responsibility to improve on the quality of their coverage. The lead time they would have should be sufficient to invest in additional infrastructure that would significantly alter the sharpness and timing of the presentation in a positive way.
Needs- Best leveraging the total of soccer programming should they add the FIFA World Cup - Better positioning against competition in sports programming- Using their connections through their investments worldwide to enhance the quality of their coverage of games Statesside
Strengths- Track record well-known via Sky Sports and properties in Asia and Pacific Rim- Has a functional channel for the purposes of televising association football events- Has experience with televising Concacaf competitions- Has experience with televising Major League Soccer games- As with ESPN, they transmit their HD in 720p, which is said to be better for sports- Platforms to put overflow programming include FX and Fox television network
Weaknesses- ESPN's tendency to de-emphasize coverage of events they feel aren't attractive from a marketing standpoint have negatively affected the opinions of many fans- Emphasizing marketing and ancillary expenses on three or four sports brands during non-World Cup years (two of which are American Football) creates concerns that other sports will continue to be stuck in the background- Employs commentators, analysts and other sports personalities who are against soccer. Any changes to the executive team might result in further downgrade of importance given to the sport- They have been suspected of unduly influencing sports organizations or associations (see: Big East Football; Syracuse and Pittsburgh moving to the ACC). What is the extent of their relationship with FIFA?- Doubts over what is their true opinion over the value of Major League Soccer as a stand-alone property- Doubts over what is their true opinion over the value of all soccer programming beyond the FIFA World Cup
It would be easy to say that soccer fans should favor continuing with a company that has offered the ability for them to watch games over cable, broadband and, occasionally, network. However, do soccer fans understand that they would have to accept the continued practice of understating soccer programming outside of the World Cup? It's not an issue of "caring", which is a subjective issue, but of the problems that arise when any media organization is handling multiple sports properties. ESPN may be bigger for the sports fan but are they necessary better for the soccer fan?
Disney (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, ESPN3[digital], ESPNSoccernet, ESPN Radio, ABC television network[probable])
A very familiar company in popular culture. Disney's ownership of the ESPN networks have been a win for them, even though not everything they've done has been successful (see: ESPN3D). FIFA certainly has a understanding with them, and a track record to look back on. The level of infrastructure at their disposal can't ever be understated, even branching deeply into college and women's sports.
Needs- Simply shoo off competition at all reasonable costs. Nothing offends the executive leadership like a sports competitor. They won't rest until the only place people turn to for sports is ESPN. Anything less is unacceptable.
Strengths- A history of working with FIFA- Benefiting from high cable subscriber fees- Advertising revenues related to sports marketing- John Skipper's position with the hierarchy means that there's someone in a position of tremendous influence to guide the decisions in terms of sports programming, including soccer- Sportscenter is very familiar with the casual sports audience- Multiple platforms to put overflow games- Corporate strength is very good
Well, I would have liked to see this pushed back one year. However, FIFA doesn't work that way. So, working under the assumption that this would all be wrapped up by next Friday, I am going to try to break down each bidder, talking about their needs, strengths, weaknesses and what I think about that organization's perceived fit with association football. I will also break down the Spanish-language bidders.
One has to wonder how tight a grip FOX Soccer will put on UEFA Champions League rights. NBC Sports Group might snatch those, too.
Keep in mind, also, that Spanish-language MLS rights will be in play after 2014 as well... as will the FIFA World Cup.
If NBC gives MLS three good seasons, you can bet that NBCSG will make a full-on charge for not only the English and Spanish MLS contracts, but the FIFA contract as well. :)
Also: Comcast is a minority stake holder in MLB Network, so its not inconceivable that NBC make a huge play with MLB Network resources (announcers, analysts, shared production) to go for MLB contract after 2013. Its more likely FOX will not be outbid nationally, but NBC could be players in taking over ESPN's and/or TBS's contract. NBC Sports Net could get prime time games, while the network get alternating coverage of the All-Star Game, Playoffs and World Series. Conceivable and if it happens, with the NFL, NHL and MLS, NBC definitely become major players nationally.