Tech could soon take over all of the sports you watch – Ben Shields

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

From Fortune

The sports industry is engaged in a grand digital experiment with technology platforms. The latest test was announced last week, when the National Football League (NFL) sold its 10-game Thursday Night Football digital package to Amazon. As when Twitter held it last year, the games will be simulcast on network (CBS or NBC) and cable (NFL Network) television. However, unlike the free access Twitter offered, only Amazon Prime members will be able to watch Thursday night games this year. Given Prime’s non-exclusivity and pay wall, if Thursday Night Football on Amazon leads to increases in year-over-year viewership and contributes to the growth of Prime subscribers, the NFL and Amazon executives could call it a win.

As encouraging as that result would be, this experiment is really about the early 2020s, which is when the NFL will be making major decisions about distributors for its most valuable rights packages. How can tech companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, Netflix, and Twitter become big rights winners at that point? And what can traditional broadcasters do now to avoid being left behind? This long-term sports rights game will be won through reach and revenue.

When sports leagues sell their live distribution rights, they want to maximize both reach and revenue. If technology companies can help leagues achieve these goals more effectively than their existing television partners, the sports media landscape will look dramatically different a decade from now.

Tech firms must prove their reach

There’s never been any doubt as to whether technology companies have the resources to invest in sports rights. The question has been whether such moves made long-term strategic sense for both parties. As technology platforms launch and grow competitive video businesses, they are beginning to put to rest concerns about their suitability as distribution partners, as they now have clear incentives to make rights deals successful over the long term.

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How Not to Get Ripped Off on Black Friday — Juanjuan Zhang and T. Tony Ke

MIT Sloan Prof. Juanjuan Zhang

MIT Sloan Prof. Juanjuan Zhang

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. T. Tony Ke

MIT Sloan Asst. Prof. T. Tony Ke

From Fortune

Don’t get seduced by the hype.

The holiday season is upon us and—based on all the Internet ads, television commercials, and store fliers about—it appears you’ve been granted a golden opportunity to reap huge savings on gifts for everyone on your shopping list.

We are, of course, being facetious—store sales are little more than hype and hyperbole conducted to move merchandise and boost retailers’ bottom lines. And yet even the savviest shoppers among us can be drawn in by the plethora of psychological tricks stores employ to get us to make impulse purchases and overspend.

Do not despair. It is possible to show restraint and become a more rational shopper. Whether you’re planning to head to the mall on Black Friday, traipse down Main Street on Small Business Saturday, or fire up your laptop on Cyber Monday, all you have to do is remember these three basic principles.

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The NFL: Twitter’s Kingmaker? — Ben Shields

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

MIT Sloan Lecturer Ben Shields

From TechCrunch

The NFL has a distinguished history of successful partnerships with upstart media companies. When it became the home of Sunday Night Football in 1987, ESPN’s unprecedented growth accelerated. Then, in 1993, the NFL sold its NFC Sunday afternoon package to Fox, firmly establishing it as the fourth major broadcast network in the U.S. In turn, both deals expanded the NFL’s reach and significantly increased its media rights revenue.

This fall the NFL is working with another new media partner: Twitter. In a $10 million deal, Twitter is live streaming for free 10 Thursday Night Football (TNF) games. It is part of Twitter’s overall strategy of making live events the centerpiece of its platform. For its part, the NFL reportedly passed on higher bidders for the digital TNF package to test new distribution models with a trusted partner.

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Umbrage against the machine — The return of humans — Paul English

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Paul English

MIT Sloan Senior Lecturer Paul English

From Re/code

As humans, we crave contact with one another. From tiny newborn babies who need their mothers, to the elderly who long for their children, throughout all stages of our lives, we reach for each other. It’s always been this way. Technology can’t replace the very thing that makes us human.

Many years ago, I was left to care for my dad, who had early-stage Alzheimer’s. One of the first things I had to do was take away his car, as his driving had become dangerous. This was difficult. My Dad was a “car guy,” and he had taught me everything I know about cars — it was a love we shared together. Taking away his car left him incredibly isolated; he would try to call his friends during the day, only to be confused by answering machines that sounded like humans. Sometimes, Dad would even call companies who sent him bills, claiming he had questions, but really, I think he just wanted to reach out to another person. Again, he was foiled by the machines who told him to press 1 for this, and press 2 for that, always finding ways to keep him from connecting with an actual human.

As a response to this, I started GetHuman, a website that allows customers to call real people at big companies without having to wait on the line or go through a million robots. Today, GetHuman.com receives millions of visitors a month, helping people with customer service issues at places like Verizon and Comcast.

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How TV can succeed in the digital age — Daniel Schiffman

Daniel Schiffman, MIT Sloan MBA '15

Daniel Schiffman, MIT Sloan MBA ’15

From Forbes

The media landscape has changed tremendously over the past year, and as we look ahead to 2016 a big question is: What is the future of TV? Television has long been the leading medium when it comes to American video consumption, but the landscape is quickly changing. Traditional TV is seeing competition from video streaming providers like Netflix and Amazon, Over-The-Top (OTT) devices such as Chromecast and Roku, and streaming content on a myriad of personal devices.

While big data is a powerful tool, it hasn’t yet unseated TV from its place at the head of the pack. A Nielsen Total Audience Report for Q2 2015 shows that adults 18+ spend more than 32 hours a week watching television, giving TV a 95% share of all video viewing. As for advertising, TV is where we see the majority of spending. It’s a $72 billion-a-year industry in the U.S., compared to $50 billion for digital advertising. However, if TV is going to stay the leader amid this digital disruption, it needs to make some changes – and make them fast.

Not surprisingly, we’re starting to see TV experiment with alternate data collection methods. The traditional means to obtain data about television viewership has long been the Nielsen rating system. That is based on a panel of roughly 25,000 homes in the U.S. and collects data once every minute. However, it really only tells us what is on the TV screen in that home. It doesn’t show if anyone is actually in the room watching the TV, or, if they are in the room, whether they are attentive to the program. Yet Nielsen has long set the standard for telling us what Americans are supposedly watching, which sets the pricing for TV advertising.

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