Wednesday, August 6, 2008

A Tale of Two Leagues

One of the fascinating (and when I say fascinating I mean ironic) things about this season is the decisions made by the two leagues leading into the current season. If you heard last January that one of the leagues would offer to discount the Pro Division entry for an event who would you have assumed it was? Or that one of the leagues was discussing ways of shoring up participation in the lower divisions?
Instead, they got it bass-ackwards.
Super 7 has shown year-to-year a growing weakness in the lower divisions which are, as everyone knows, the critical revenue divisions and yet everything was business as usual. Although one might say the NPPL tried more of the same it doesn't appear to be working. Nor did last year's really bad idea of discounted entries. And I can't see your typical D2 team being particularly thrilled with discounts for Pros. At any rate whatever NPPL has been thinking with regards their player (customer) base their implementation hasn't turned things around.
PSP enjoyed its best year ever in '07 and they decide the thing to do is tweak the format across the board and charge the lower divisions more in '08. (It's a testament to the popularity of Xball that the '08 numbers to date aren't far off last year's but WC will determine just how good or not '08 turns out to be.) Of course they also tweaked the format for the Pros as well--the division that was really hurting--ostensibly to make it less expensive to compete. Trust me, it ain't no cheaper. Some teams may be using a bit less tourney paint but that's it. The only other savings are in practicing less.
To date the result is one league has a fairly strong Pro Division (though both have problems but for different reasons) with weak lower divisional support and the other is pretty strong everywhere but in their premier Pro Division.
Between the two I think the NPPL has the larger problem because I think their problems are predicated on the core assumptions of their promotion but if PSP doesn't take some decisive action on behalf of the NXL they may end up in the position of seeing how strong Xball is without a flagship division.

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