Free Time I do not have.

Dear few but loyal readers

Sorry I missed yesterday’s post. I know that I’m supposed to keep this stuff updating regularly, but the truth is as little time it may take to write up a post that butchers the english language, it takes up time that I certainly don’t have at the moment. Yes, contrary to the blog title, I am currently running low on “free time”, as I am in the middle of a job transition and also spending time with a dear friend of mine who will be leaving town for an extended period of time.

Don’t worry though; next week I’ll be back on schedule wasting your free time with mine.

Thank you to the few of you who check this blog daily. You are much appreciated. 🙂

-Geoff

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MLB.TV – the (almost) solution to watching Baseball – PART II

Last Week, we discussed the absurdity of MLB.TV’s Blackout system. I read a bunch of comments and saw some really insightful stuff. For instance, I never really thought of MLB.TV as a product/service that is more-or-less exclusively for people who have moved away from their home town fore business, family, schooling, etc. It makes a lot more sense when you think of it that way.

The problem with that philosophy is that I Qualify for that. Origionally from Saint Petersburg, I moved to Orlando. If you’re unfamiliar with the geography of florida, thats approximately 2 hours from St. Pete. I hear you North-Easterners scoffing. “only 2 hours? It takes me more than 3 for me to get out of the Bronx.” I know, I know; but Florida has a different mentality when it comes to distance and travel time than some of the larger cities or towns located in the planes and farmlands of middle America. because our cities are so spread out, they tend to become compartmentalized within themselves; for instance both ‘Kissimmee’ and ‘Lake Mary’ are both considered part of the ‘Orlando Drive Market’, but they are on oposite ends with about a dozen other ‘cities/neighborhoods/compartments’ between them. What I’m trying to say is that even though they’re only 40 minutes from each other  we consider them to be ‘far’ from each other. We rely exclusively on private transportation as our public transportation is still stuck somewhere in the mid 60’s and that will probably be another blog post entirely in the future.

Anywho, Moving on. What I’m trying to say is that I qualify as part of the intended audience for MLB.TV; a young professional who has moved out of town & cut the cable cord but still wants to follow his favorite team. The problem is, I haven’t moved far away enough. Had I just moved To Boise Idaho, I probably wouldn’t be discussing this.

Before I continue, I also know there are proxy workarounds and all sorts of other ways I can trick MLB.TV into thinking I’m streaming from Boise Idaho, but that’s not the point. Yes, this is an argument over principle, albeit a losing one at that.

For the most part, I understand how these exclusive broadcasting contracts work. I understand why they are the way they are. The MLB (and any other sports league) auctions off who gets broadcasting rights for that network to generate ad revenue. I get that. And I understand that those networks don’t want to lose any potential revenue. I think this is part of a greater conversation that the world needs to be having; and that is a conversation about Copyrights and their accessibility.

Some colleagues of mine were having this discussion this morning; ‘Sport’ is one of the last bastions of event-based viewing (Can you really count Dancing With The Stars?). Real results at real time. you can go ahead and watch any show; the Walking Dead for instance, at any time and it will have the same, more or less impact if you watched it live or if you watched it 12 months later. Sports, however, are constantly changing; score updates, standing constantly shifting, one team will fall off of a hot streak while another team at the bottom of the standings shoots to the top in just under a month; Real exciting stuff that would be lost if you tried to ‘catch up’ on baseball by watching 3 months worth of games in a little over a week.

Now this isn’t going to be the type of blog where i complain about things with no effort put into thinking of solutions. I’m not an expert, but i try to continually think analytically.

Solution Number 1: Broadcast Live Stream

This option seems to me to be the simplest temporary solution; but it could get out of hand if it was brought in to be a permanent one. Have whoever is broadcasting a game; Fox, TBS, ESPN; not MLB.TV Live Stream the game on their owned website directly for people within the MLB.TV Blackout zone. Once you’ve done that, PLASTER it with ads! Baseball has an overabundance of advertising material; from the name of the stadium to the Coors-Light sponsored Trip to the mound. Throw up banners on the site; Throw in audio commercials or in-stream video ads to play in-between plays. go ahead and get the scoreboard for the play-by-play tool sponsored. There’s a million ways to do this online and have it completey supported by ad revenue; and as more advanced and more expensive ad technology evolves, the more potential revenue there is for these broadcasters to cash in on Online viewers. KEEP IN MIND you anti-advertising redditors; the ad revenue would be going to the Parent Broadcasting company, the one that you would be watching on LIVE TV anyway with your cable or satellite package. We’ll have to have another talk on Advertising some other time, as this post is already far too long.

 

Solution Number 2: MLB.TV Paywall

you could use a Paywall and adjust subscriptions from a Per-Game, Per-Series, Per-Team or All-Teams for people who live within those blackout zones. This is more or less the idea that MLB was attempting to do, but since they have local broadcasters with blackout rights, prevents them from fully realized.

Last thing I’ll say is that I know that there is a heavy anti-advertising subculture out there. FULL DISCLOSURE, I am biased as I work in the Advertising industry, so I obviously gush at opportunities where my talents become more valuable. A lot of people think that advertisers are these evil, Don Draper phonies who think of people as sheep and that they need to herd the sheep to buy stuff they don’t need. This isn’t true (again, we’ll talk another time on another post). There are a group of people out there who love things and would gladly pay for them or go out of their way to support them. You probably have a favorite food joint that you would travel miles for and pay as much as you can for just to support them. It could be a TV show like Game Of Thrones or a book series like Harry Potter.

There was a great episode a couple of months ago on one of my Favorite podcasts, 99% Invisible (you can find it HERE), about Trappist Beer and the accessibility problem that fans and connoisseurs experiencing trying to acquire it. You could easily draw a connection or correlation that MLB.TV is experiencing with it’s accessibility  that you have people like me, who are gladly willing to drop $100+ on a subscription that is, for all intents and purposes, useless to me and my current living situation.

I just want to shout out to all of you out there who have participated in this conversation with me on Reddit; another reason why that site is so good; it brings thousands of people from differing perspectives together to discuss problems and issues with society in a constructive and thought provoking way. You guys are the best!

 

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MLB.TV – the (almost) solution to watching Baseball

Finally! Baseball is back!

 I can’t tell you how relieved I am. Growing up in the household of a classic Phillies Phanatic, I was brought up on a healthy respect for Baseball, from singing along to ‘Centerfield’, ‘Glory Days’, & ‘Talkin Baseball’ to memorizing the transcript of ‘Field of Dreams’.

To be honest, I never really got into it until around High school, as I was more interested in reading and video games. And even though my Home Team was always a on the bottom of the standings, the tickets were still cheaper than a movie, so Baseball was a frequent throughout middle school and high school.

At first glance, 2012 seemed to be the year of the happy marriage between the Internet and Sports. The Super Bowl was broadcast online and the MLB was launching their new MLB.TV Premium Package. This blew my mind. I love baseball, but working a 9-5 on the east coast means about ½ of the games throughout the season are in that 1p-3p timeframe, and I think my boss would notice if I took a 4 hour lunch break for 18 days this season. Because I work at my desk, MLB.TV Premium would let me watch the games from my Mac at work, Pick up the game on my Android for my ride home, catch a couple innings at the gym on my iPad, be back home for the pitching change on my PC, and watch the extra innings on my xbox360 or PS3. It covered virtually every device. I’ve been meaning to drop cable for a while, and this was just the push that I needed. Pay for the package while dropping cable for a higher internet speed. It’s perfect. But we can’t always have nice things. I will illustrate the next portion of this post in what I imagine would be a conversation between myself and the geniuses at MLB.TV.

MLB: Hey you! I bet you like baseball
ME: You’re right I love baseball!
MLB: I bet you probably have a favorite team.
ME: I sure do! I really feel like this is the season the Tampa Bay Rays go all the way!
MLB: I’m sure they will… Wait, do you live within the drive market of the rays?
ME: No, I wish I did. That way I could go to the games.
MLB: Well we’ve got just the product that suits your needs.
ME: Really? What is it?
MLB: It’s MLB.TV! Watch any-asterisk- game on any device!
ME: Wow any? Wait. What’s that?
MLB: What? Oh that? ’-asterisk-’? That’s just an asterisk.
ME: What does that mean?
MLB: Oh, it just means you can’t watch any Rays games.
ME: What? Why?
MLB: Well, you live in Florida. Therefore you can’t watch any Rays games.
ME: But I’m not even in the drive market! I live in Orlando; over 2 hours away.
MLB: Or the Marlins for that matter.
ME: Five hour drive. dude, you’re not making this any easier.
MLB: That’s too bad. Hey, do you like the seattle Mariners?
ME: No, I like the rays. Can at least watch the away games?
MLB: The games when the Rays are playing outside of your drive market?
ME: Yeah!
MLB: Nope. What about the Astros?
ME: That doesn’t make sense! why can’t i watch away games?
MLB: well do you live in florida?
ME: yes.
MLB: Then you can’t watch the Rays game, even if they’re playing in Milwaukee.
ME: How am I supposed to watch it?
MLB: You’ll just have to pay for cable and watch it there.
ME: But I just paid YOU to watch it on my xbox
MLB: Too bad.
ME: Why would anyone buy your stupid service
MLB: We don’t know.

Click here to see a map of the MLB.TV Blackout territories

 

Click Here to see PART II to this blog post

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What’s the Message?

So the dreaded Facebook phone was just released recently, and so begins another round of commercials dedicated to selling you the latest gizmo you probably don’t need. Wait a minute. This actually looks pretty good.

We’re about to step into the dangerous territory of smart phones. I’m not a technology expert. I have friends that could recite hardware specs, advantages and disadvantages of one Operating System over another, and give you a 12 page consumer buying guide they created at 2:34 pm on a Sunday. No, I’m not an expert on hardware or software, but I do work in the Advertising industry, and since I havent found a better hobby that isn’t related to my day job, we’re going to talk about some Ads.

I’m not going to go into the crazy behind the scenes business practices between phone manufacturers and service providers, mostly because I’m not an expert, and most of it is guesswork, but the end scenario is the same: Service Providers are usually the ones with the bigger budgets to spend on advertising for a new phone (Exceptions may be the iPhone & the Galaxy). That and there’s all sorts of exclusivity agreements and blah blah balgh. I rarely see a commercial from HTC, but I will see an AT&T or Verizon Commercial featuring a HTC Phone, usually with some sort of caviot with plan details at the end.

So here we have the new AT&T commercial for the Facebook Home. Full disclosure, I Actually have Verizon with a two year old HTC Incredible 1, so I’m not pushing AT&T or anything, it just happens to meet the criteria for the examples today.

It’s really simple and elegant. Yeah, maybe it might be a bit much to imply that your friend’s facebook statuses are equal to that of art in a museum, but it does enough to show how their phone stands out. It has enough product action shots for you to see ‘Why’ their phone is different, and it also has enough emotional messaging with a touch of humor at the end when the old guy  says ‘us girls’. It’s a great balance, I think. It’s not enough to tell someone to buy your phone; you want them to want to buy your phone. You leave the experience with an emotional attachment to your friends as art, an understanding about what the software brings to your phone that your current phone does not, and you get a giggle at the end. Let’s compare that to an earlier AT&T commercial for the Nokia Lumia 920

I love Will Arnett. I know his shtick and I get the unnecessarily lavish lifestyle gag they’re going for with his tiger print sports car in front of a decadent home, and of course the ever popular oil-painting-of-myself bit at the end. But at the core of the commercial, both the HTC Home & The Lumia 920 are trying to do the same thing; Show off the features of a software enhanced phone. but which one does it better?

It’s not exactly fair to compare an emotional message with a humor based one, but at the end, what are the two ads saying? “This Phone Has Twitter” is all I really got out of the Lumia commercial, and even if the Home commercial is essentially the same thing except “This Phone Has Facebook”, it does enough to show that it has a completely different Facebook experience; one which you haven’t experienced.

I’m actually a big fan of the Windows Phones, and I’m looking into getting one to replace my two year old brick. I know that these phones have so much more to offer, and it’s disappointing to see that it’s not reflected in the marketing, but hey, That’s just me.

What do you think? Which ad do you think is better? If you had to choose between these two phones based on the ads alone, which would you choose?

EDIT: In a conversation with a colleague, he stated “who are your friends, if not a curated group from everyone you’ve ever met.” Well done Facebook Home Ad.

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Things I won’t argue about – Baseball

I’m going to try this every once in a while; Let me know if it sucks and I’ll never do it again. I’m not a good arguer; I never have my thoughts collected and I always think of something to say 10 minutes later, long after the argument has died down. I also hate arguing over the internet, as whatever you write is usually broken down and analyzed by a team of industry leading scientists who then return an itemized list of what you said and why you’re wrong. You know what? That’s actually not a bad idea…

This is what I’ll do; I’ll occasionally bring up a topic and I’ll write my response to a handful of arguments and counter arguments and that’ll be the end of it. So if I ever get in an argument, I’ll just cite the blog and be done with it…well not really. That’s kind of douchey  But you get the idea. Moving On:

I grew up, like many, in a household devoted to the Great American Pass-time. My Dad has been a life-long Phillies fan so I grew up with a respect and admiration for Baseball. Admittedly  it never really took off in Little League; In no way was I ever destined to become the next Mike Schmidt. I moved around a lot when I was a kid; not a ton, but enough to never establish an emotional connection with a particular team; at least until High School.

I grew up in St. Petersburg, home of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays – a team from the late 90’s that quickly became the leagues whipping boy. I remember going to games; mostly because it was cheaper than a movie and we could buy nosebleed seats and sit on the first baseline without so much as a second look at our ticket stub; but for atmospheric reasons too.

There isn’t anything quite like a Baseball game when you’re in the stadium. It’s a feeling that I can’t express, but it’s soothing and exciting at the same time. Maybe it’s the leisurely pace of baseball or the heart pounding moments in Extra Innings. Who Knows? I understand that most of the country doesn’t share my opinion on Baseball, so I would like to share my counter arguments on the subject and never bring it up again.

‘x’ sport is better than baseball because

  1. ‘x’ Sport has more fans
    if we’re using the number of fans to quantify which sport is better, then Dr. Who and Star Trek have more fans than any national sport, so it must be better.
  2. ‘x Sport has more viewers
    If you’re still reading this then you didn’t Read point ‘A’ enough. Same thing, but with Dancing with the Stars and Jersey Shore.
  3. Baseball is ‘So’ Boring
    Listen, I get that we as a nation have the cumulative attention spans of gnats, but whether or not you think something is boring is subjective. I think that Medicine and biology are boring, but I’m glad that’s not a universal attitude, less I’d have nobody to patch me up if i got sick. I think that watching a romantic comedy is boring since it’s usually not romantic (more often creepy) and it’s not funny (more often physical humor in the same vein of the Three Stooges which died out like 40 years ago, right? Right? Guess not.). There are plenty of other things that I find boring that other people find Fascinating and have developed hobbies and careers around them, and you know what? I’m happy that they did. That’s what makes us as humans such a versatile species.
  4. I’m still convinced baseball is a stupid, stupid-person sport and i don’t like it cuz I dont wanna!!!
    Geez man chill. fine by me. If hearing me say that your sport ‘x’ is better than baseball, fine i’ll say it. you’re sport is better* than baseball. reach for a bottle of milk, something. move on with your life and out of your parents basement and learn that not everybody has to like your things and only your things. Life is gonna be rough for you kid.
    *I really don’t give a shit what you think.
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Why Stop There?

I don’t like to get too political. Not because I’m timid in my beliefs; only because I know that the internet is a vast collection of the foulest trolls, bigots, and all-around horrible people. They might be a minority in the community, but there certainly the loudest. For example, I think the majority of Top YouTube Channels are reporting an average of 1% of their subscribers are active on that channel as far as commenting and replying within a 1 month time period. Anywho. The more you know, right?

So on my drive home, I was listening to the radio and they were playing sound bites of arguments for the DOMA Supreme Court trial, and there was this one guy that just stood out as a Class Act. I’m paraphrasing mostly, but He mentioned that the reason why he was against Gay Marriage wasn’t because he was against ‘the gays’ or even ‘domestic partnerships’, he was against Gay Marriage because it breaches the ‘traditional procreative purpose of marriage’.

Traditional Procreative Purposes of Marriage.

Alright, I’ll play ball. Listen, buddy. I’m not going to argue with you. In fact, I’m going to agree with you. But my problem with your argument is, why stop there? If the purpose of marriage is to Procreate, then I think that every couple MUST have a minimum of one child, because, and I may be paraphrasing here, that’s how it’s Traditionally supposed to be. No matter what, You must have One child.

Oh, and You can’t get divorced. you have to have one child, and you can’t get divorced, no matter the circumstance.

You know what? You can’t get married unless your christian too, because Marriage, after all, is Traditionally a religious institution. So you have to be a christian and have your wedding in a church in order to get married; after which you must produce at least one child and you can’t get divorced. no excuses.

I think this whole ‘sanctity’ of marriage argument is as equally dangerous as their argument of ‘where do you draw the line?’ Opponents of Gay Marriage will often say that legalizing it would open the door to a whole mess of questionable ‘g[r]ay’ areas such as people wanting to marry minors, or animals, or inanimate objects;

you know, because Gay people are on the same level as inanimate objects.

I agree; where do you draw the line? If you don’t allow Gay Marriage because it’s a religious institution with ‘traditional procreative purposes’, what’s to stop later trials saying that you have to have kids, you can’t get divorced, and you must be a christian wedded in a church in order to get married?

 

Wow, This post is getting bigger than I intended. Sorry.

I guess I’ll end with a broader statement. My problem, overall, as I’m sure is the same problem that free-thinking twenty-thirty somethings are having, with the Republican Right or the Conservative Base, is that they force me to become a single-issue voter. I’m not a Democrat; I don’t know what their higher ideals are or how they wish to change or destroy the country; I have no idea what fiscal policy is going to help or hurt the country the most; mostly because neither side will explain it to me straightly and instead accuse me of being an ignorant voter for not having taken Political Science as a major along with a double major in Macroeconomics and a minor in public sector micro-finance (i think i made that last one up).

But in my heart, I’m a humanist, and I think that everyone should be entitled to the same rights as a basic human beings. It pisses me off to no end when I hear somebody who adamantly blames the government for ‘controlling’ their lives because of their fiscal policy and proclaims for freedom…and in the same breath say that they think that same government, the one they were blaming for having too much control over their lives, should have control over other’s people’s rights; over their rights to wed, over their rights to choose, over their rights to live freely. How can I vote for a party which once led a crusade of civil rights, Abolishing Slavery and promoting equality between citizens of every ethnicity; how can I vote for a party, who was once heralded for its groundbreaking human rights issues, when they are prompted similar circumstance, they turn an eye.

I’ll end with a clip from Lincoln, where Tommy Lee Jones’ character, Thaddeus Stevens, a Radical politician, even for his time, and representative of the state of Pennsylvania, and one of the most powerful men in congress, and yes. he was a Republican. Take some Notes.

I couldn’t find the whole clip, so watch these two back to back:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPK2FA5I6Vg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTwKOCILJl0

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(Un)Happy Meals

Do you remember back when you were a kid, and McDonalds had happy meals that had collectable toys? Specifically, when I was about 8 or 9 years old, I remember that McDonalds came out with a line of Mini Beanie Babies. Don’t ask my why they were so popular, I really have no clue, but they were; and if you remember them, it’s a true testament to your street cred as a 90’s kid.

You know those vaguely specific incidents from childhood that stick with you through your adult life? The time you went to a friend’s house and accidentally broke his Lego castle and blamed it on his dog? The time your friend ‘borrowed’ your first edition Charizard Poke’mon card and never gave it back? The time you went to McDonalds to get a happy meal with a beanie baby and you got the worm for the 100th time when you wanted the dog that your friends at school were gloating about you not having?

 I know, real First World Problems.

But I remember this one specific time when I asked if I could trade in my worm for the dog (that I saw behind the counter) and the person who worked there said in a really mean voice that if I wanted another one, I had to buy another meal, and even then it would be random.

At the time, I thought there was some sort of governing body that was carefully randomizing beanie babies behind the counter that had to be calibrated correctly at any given moment that any variation in the outcome of the beanie baby would jeopardize not only this McDonalds, but All of the McDonalds around the world, and Beanie Babies, and Poke’mon Cards, and Legos, and all that was holy would crumble and cease to exist.

Looking back, I realized that person was just a dick.

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