James Governor's Monkchips

Sport Will Be The Battering Ram for Internet TV: the medium is the message. thoughts on GoogleTV post io

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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:

no one knows better than a Linux user that Flash has its issues, but c’mon – MLB At Bat is just incredible

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”.

Or ask vendorprisey about cricinfo.

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.


  1. Sport Will Be The Battering Ram for Internet TV: the medium is the message. thoughts on GoogleTV post io http://monk.ly/aSOY7g
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  2. does anyone else think Google might buy Opta? i like @optajoe so much they inspired some of this post http://monk.ly/aSOY7g
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  3. Interesting PoV on Google TV and sports coverage by @monkchips ‘Sport Will Be The Battering Ram for GoogleTV’ http://is.gd/cn1zr
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  4. The TV Industry should worry when @monkchips sees Telly as part of his remit… http://bit.ly/9O6mZM
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  5. TVs are simple. But, the TV business is horribly large and complex. As ever, Google have the hardware + software. But for the content they will need to outbid Murdoch/Comcast et al. Maybe they can bring more dosh to the table through channels beyond ads though. For instance, by flogging me football shirts while I cheer on The Arse. Either way, Sir Martin can’t be sleeping any easier at the thought of Google crashing his most spendy, sexy client product – namely TV Ads.

    1. cheers Damon – nice contextual additions to the argument.

      @cherkoff indeed. question to ask- could Google afford to outbid Murdoch for this content? We both know the answer to that one. Rupert might be able to outbid ITV and the BBC – but Google? good luck with that…

  6. Yes this is the way mlb.com work with the Baseball mainly US centric, they own all the content and make about $500m per year putting it out online on a subscription basis. The days of channels on terrestial TV are numbered but as usual will take 5/10 years to disappear completely given the depth of legacy equipment and apathy in market. It is the reason the team at StuffedAnimalsMedia are putting entertainment content together from scratch and like the old Hollywood studio model control the creation, direction, global distribution and monetisation on digital and ignoring the traditional broadcast channels – this model sometimes called digiwood. The word is the NFL are buying back in all their content rights as the contracts mature to eventually do the same globally. If you ever wanted a disruptive globally scalable opportunity this has got to be one of the spaces to play in.

  7. Rupert might be able to outbid ITV and the BBC – but Google? good luck with that… http://monk.ly/aSOY7g
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  8. We mustn’t forget Google’s recent foray into “one of the most widely-distributed sporting events in history,” which I thought you’d mention given the Wisden almanack – that being the Indian Premier League live broadcast on YouTube – http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/indian-premier-league-bowls-wicked.html

    I think they had 50M+ views during the live broadcasts, and that this underpins their understanding sports as a way in.

    1. @jonmountjoy how daft am i forgetting that point of context, which struck me forcefully when i heard about it? thanks so much for reminding me! thanks for the audience figures too…

      @freecloud- perhaps i am overoptimistic but i think TV is set for change. an alliance could make sense but for now it seems pretty bloody unlikely. of course there are barriers to entry. but not insurmountable ones. Just think how much iTunes has changed TV watching behaviours in the UK.

      @timmorgan i took a look at it. interesting. you might think about auto-populating a couple of scenarios so its even easier to get started.

  9. Great post James. I especially like ‘engage with’ as opposed to ‘watching’. Thats what we’re doing at http://football.picklive.com/ (a ‘real real-time- time’ sports game). Football only at the mo but then this is a rather large summer for football 😉

  10. People love TV. I love TV. But its finances are from 1950s. If Google can keep the best bits of the Mad Men (eg lurvely images) and add fresh goodies (eg Apps + Shopping) for Viewers and Big Data Analytics for Brands it could do for TV what iTunes did for music ie appear to be the future, while in fact being the competition.

  11. Sport Will Be The Battering Ram for Internet TV: the medium is the message. thoughts on GoogleTV http://monk.ly/aSOY7g cc: @freecloud
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  12. James, I agree with James Cherkoff – I think you are underestimating (i) the barriers to entry and (ii) the stickiness of the incumbent “good enoughs”.

    That said, I am relishing a Murdoch v Google battle – but oddly enough I think both have more to be gained by an alliance.

  13. so i write a post about sport as a battering ram for GoogleTV and forget to mention it sponsored the Indian Cricket http://monk.ly/aSOY7g
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  14. If TV (and all media) will converge on the internet, why bring the network to TV? Why not bring TV to the
    network? Aren’t we going about this backwards?

    Bringing TV to the network happened 10 years ago – overnight. Yet today we are talking about slowly introducing the network to TV sets over a period of 10 years. Does no one consider this a 20 year goose chase?

    Computers are machines that can simulate ALL machines (and that includes TV). The internet is a medium that can simulate all media.

    Did our insatiable desire for ever bigger (low resolution) screens lead us astray?

    My current TV (EyeTV) will stream itself over the internet so I can watch programs (sans ads) wherever there is an network connection (3g/wifi) on my iPhone. It does this with live TV too. http://bit.ly/eNwp1

    Rupert Murdoch is a dodo.

    1. great question brad. one reason is screen “ownership”. overall i think we’ll continue buying “tellies” for a while. and arguably- bring TV to the internet is what goog is planning to do.

  15. James.
    Indeed. Good you mentioned Cricket.

    Cycling coverage is also being transformed. Your mates at adobe have done some cool mashups of coverage, tweets maps and data for several years on the tour of California. Eurosport online is excellent too.

    On the cricket side, amateur commentary is going to shake things up. have a look at http://www.testmatchsofa.com
    turn down the Sky and listen to them instead.

  16. Getting some great comments on my post about sport as the battering ram for GoogleTV. I’d love to know what you think http://monk.ly/aSOY7g
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  17. Sport Will Be The Battering Ram for Internet TV: the medium is the message. @monkchips thoughts on GoogleTV http://bit.ly/bcJb12
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  18. James Governor’s Monkchips » Sport Will Be The Battering Ram for …: Anyway, given I had a post of immersive data… http://bit.ly/9NqyM6
    This comment was originally posted on Twitter

  19. it works for me. sports have long been a killer draw: i, like a lot of people, got DirecTV back in the day b/c of the content deal they had with MLB.

    the challenge for Google TV, in my view, is going to be the interface. it’d be impossible, for example, for me to read a standard sized box score on a TV – even a big one – from the standard 10 feet or so.

  20. This post is mentioned in this week’s Campaign Magazine. That must represent some sort of tipping point. What sort of tipping point I do not know… 😉

  21. […] James Governor’s Monkchips » Sport Will Be The Battering Ram for … […]

  22. […] – we’re tweeting from the other screen at the same time. I am surprised nobody has nailed the mobile for sports data, augmenting the TV experience yet. What’s interesting to me are the new models for interaction between all the […]

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