The more I think about it the more sure I am that watching sport on TV will be what drives the coming Internet TV convergence, which is probably good, given I was quoted to that effect in The Guardian last Friday.
“We are going to get integrated internet TV. I think that the integration of data-driven sports experiences will drive this in the US – where statistics matter so much for baseball, rather like statistics do for cricket here.”
In his News Corp AGM in 1996, Rupert Murdoch said:
“Sport absolutely overpowers film and everything else in the entertainment genre… we plan to use sports as a ‘battering ram’ and a lead offering in all our pay television operations.”
I am not sure much has changed. But the addition of data to sports can certainly make the experience more immersion and enjoyable. Just try and enjoy baseball or cricket without understanding the poetry of the data. Wisden’s Almanac is the original augmented reality.
My esteemed colleague Stephen O’Grady is a baseball stats nut. Not sure I can find the post explaining it now, but his appreciation of the stats is not separate to his enjoyment of baseball. It didn’t come after the fact; it pulled him into the game while he was living in Boston as an undergraduate if memory serves me correctly. Anyway, given I had a post of immersive data-driven Internet sports TV his most recent posterous was telling. It says simply:
That’s what I find most interesting about the phenomenon I am describing. That is – watching sport is not independent of the medium. Thus – Stephen became an iPhone true believer on the strength of one app – MLB.com at bat. He calls it “quite possibly the best app ever written”.
People will choose to purchase hardware and software that best suits how they want to engage with sports and metrics. That’s why I think GoogleTV has a chance. Just because nobody has nailed Internet TV yet doesn’t mean Google won’t. Let’s face it – nobody understands stats and metrics like Google: if the firm can apply some of that genius to sports on “TV” they could change how we watch sport forever.
I, for one, can’t wait for the Opta TV app. Don’t know Opta? It turns sports into stats. And it knows exactly what its doing. The company’s slogan Finding Beauty in The Detail. Today Opta sells through broadcasters and directly to sports teams, but you can bet Internet TV will change all that. Opta already got an iPhone app. It also has one of my favourite twits- @Optajoe – who has the headline writing succinctness of the Sun and the stats prowess of, well, someone really good at stats. So – Opta as a future Google acquisition? Don’t bet against it… And don’t bet against the notion you’ll be watching, or even better engaging with, GoogleTV within three years.
Another News Corp Google battle? This will be fun. The Murdochs’ claim that Google is just a content thief would be sorely tested in a stats-driven battle… You see- Google creates content by maths. Its what it does. Even the spell check is a stats-driven service: the most common spelling of a word is the correct spelling: non-intuitive but true.
Why did I say “engaging with”? Because passive one way TV is so last century. TV can be an event, as the recent UK general election clearly demonstrated, particularly if you integrate Twitter into the mix. What surprised me about the GoogleTV announcement last week was that it didn’t stress Read/Write TV. Watch that space, I guess.