Monday, October 19, 2009

Guest Post from Information Merchant

This came over the transom today. While VFTD does not endorse all the views contained in this open letter VFTD does find them worthy of discussion. After all, that is a big part of what VFTD is about.

An 'Open Letter' from the Information Merchant:

In an ideal world there would be two national (US) paintball leagues and both would be able to support themselves and further the sport. That is an ideal world. Given the realities and constraints of this world, consolidation and unification is the only option for national-level paintball (the feasibility of a regionalized structure is out of bounds in this letter, as I hope we all want a platform for national competition). To that end, I would like to humbly ask you to ask yourself, “Is what I am doing really best for paintball?”

I don’t know if 7man will die without the USPL. I do know that the USPL isn’t saving it. The league is alienating the support base with sub-par events and is “proving” 7man to be unsustainable as a national circuit. I don’t know if that is a false-positive, but after the failures of Pure Promotions and Pacific Paintball, and now the USPL with the combined strengths of Chuck, Tom, Bart and all the other intelligent and/or experienced individuals putting their efforts towards that league, 7man's inability to be run successfully at the national level will be a given. The longer the USPL exists, the harder it will be for another 7man league to start up in the future. (And this ignores the rumblings that the USPL is moving to a match-based format of play, so even the saviors of 7man are going nontraditional to try to save their league. Put another way, the league formed to save 7man is rumored to be forsaking 7man in order to save the league).

It is irresponsible to suggest that it is our duty, as paintballers, to (blindly) support paintball in all its forms and formats. Supporting all of paintball, as it is today, is hurting the sport. It is dividing our (very limited) resources is bad for our sport. We have enough companies (i.e. sponsors) and enough teams interested in national competition to support one league. All we accomplish by splitting up is to create distraction, diffuse resources and prevent any one group from pulling itself up, not to mention the increasing likelihood, if not actually probability, that we will cause both leagues to fail.

I can’t help but think about what could have been done this year if we had unified under one banner and really supported the sport. The PSP probably lost $100,000 to $150,000 in entrance fees to the USPL and another $100,000 in sponsorship. Imagine what the PSP could have done with that;
  • Right now $100,000 people are out of work and taking $50,000 jobs. The PSP could have hired a salesmen, a PR rep, to approach non-endemic sponsors, something the NPPL was having moderate success with (Army, Marines, video game industry, energy drinks, car companies…). There is no saying whether this would have borne any fruit. If not, it is $50,000 lost, but if so, it would have been that much more money and exposure coming into paintball, that much more mainstream attention coming into paintball.
  • The PSP could have expanded their webcast. The PSP webcast is our best avenue for attracting new national players. with more cameras,more interviews, more content, more statistics, it would have been an even greater draw. The more people who watch, the more people who have an increased likelihood to play.
  • The PSP could have put more effort into getting all the regional leagues around the country behind them, creating one unified structure. This could have involved getting pro teams to attend those events, to promote the PSP and X-Ball (and themselves). This effort may have involved donating entrance fees to the prize packages of the regional events. These activities would help the regional leagues attract more players (thereby making more money). It would get more local players into the sport, helping local stores and fields. And it would further increase the likelihood that some of those teams end up playing the PSP. We need to introduce the best regional teams to the PSP if we hope to continue to have a PSP. This is all part of the larger unification of paintball.

We could have had more teams and better events with better webcasts which would make paintball more attractive to sponsors, who could have been courted by a full time professional salesperson. We would have given back to the players, to the sponsors, to the regional leagues and to the sport. And we would have taken some steps towards unifying paintball across the country. And in so doing we would have helped local stores and fields and leagues and local players.

That is the opportunity cost of the USPL, right there. The damage that has been done may be irreversible (will Rockstar ever come back with a $90,000 sponsorship proposal?).

Sit back, all you owners of USPL pro teams, all you divisional teams supporting the format, all one tourist teams looking for a good time playing one national event per year, sit back and ask if what you are doing will lead us down the road where this all goes away?I believe it does. I believe it will. I hope you reconsider the blind support of paintball in all its glory and restrict yourself to only supporting paintball that helps support the sport.


Anonymous said...

Holy shit!!! We found someone who pointed out that having two leagues is hurting our sport!!!!! Baca why didn't this person come forward sooner? Well I for one would like to personally thank this brave soul, a true visionary if you will, for stepping forward and saying what needed to be said!

Everyone one did a little dance when the NPPL died last year... even some of the teams that choose to partake in the league this year agreed that the death of the NPPL was a good thing for the sport.

But somehow a bunch of people banded together and said "fuck this one league idea lets start this war all over again. So what if we don't have a leg to stand on and our buiness model already failed. Lets not give the pros prize money and lets hope this takes off!"

Shitty idea, I know, but unfortunately they had some cool venues: Huntington beach, Vegas, shit even DC was a cooler venue then where World Cup was held.

Playing in Huntington Beach is like no where else in the world. That event is the closest thing to a religious pilgrimage I will ever have, it's just perfect. So if I can only afford to play one national a year, (a choice faced by many teams) do I go to HB with bikini clad girls walking up and down the boardwalk or do I go to Polk City, Florida and hope to not pass out like "Troll" did trying to run in the flag?

The only interesting conversation that could still be left to happen is how much longer will the NPPL last this time? Will they roll up the carpets now, or wait to see how HB goes next year?

Mike said...

This sure makes it sound like Tampa Bay Damage won't be part of the USPL for 2010.

In all honesty, why not have the USPL?
The league owners have a plan, and see it as viable. They believe in 7 man as a format and clearly like it.

Crusificton said...

Are there really ever enough companies or sponsors?

I completely disagree with this article. The PSP is my favorite circuit and has my favorite format, but the USPL has every right and responsibility to be here too.

So the USPL took away $150k. That's just peanuts in the whole scheme of things.

Sure times are tough, but it still much needed competition and alternative format. An adjusted NPPL 7 man format is still very different from a 5 man Race-7.

Although I've never competed in the USPL or NPPL, I still appreciate what it stands for. A league run and controlled by the players, with the goal of making it fair from a players point of view. You can't get that type of alternative thinking in the PSP, which can be good or bad. You also have no choices.

If you as a team or a vendor want to compete or display your product/service you have to adhere to one set of guidelines. As I've seen with Bob Long, he just won't even travel to World Cup because of the cost, but the USPL league is easy for him to manage. Some vendors only have an opportunity to attend one league rather than another because of finances. And players can possibly find that they only have one option to gain any noterity in the sport and it would be the only road to getting sponsorship.

Try looking at it another way. "What If" the PSP had been the one that failed? Were we all just suppose to pick up 2 more players and exchange all our X bunkers for NPPL Spikes? Would you have supported that format because it was the only national league standing also or would you have tried to continue to play X-ball?

Missy Q said...

This guy's utopia also depends on the Premise that the PSP would actually do all of the lovely things that the author claims would have been within the realms of possibility, which is highly unlikely.
Those old enough to remember may not have forgotten that Pure Promotions, through 7 man, were the company to actually introduce a webcast. They were the company, through 7-man, that attracted outside sponsors, offered increased prize packages, employed salespeople to seduce the car companies, energy drink companies etc, that partnered with the regional leagues to standardise a format, which gave out NPPL entries as prizes, and basically did all of the things that this guy is harping-on about. It's been done, and it wasn't done in his beloved Xball, it was done in 7-man done because the PSP were NOT doing it.
This guy believes that if the PSP were given a second chance, they would do all this stuff. I say that's wishful thinking on his part. It is more likely, by his own rationale, that if the PSP died, the 7 man format, with the extra support, might be able to fulfill his dreams, seeing as they've done all that before...

Some people have very short memories.

Mark790.06 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I am curious as to what "sure beats just the promise of support" means. Did Pure Promotions promise things they didn't provide or did Pure Promotions promise things that Pacific Paintball didn't provide?

Anonymous said...

Pure Promotions and Pacific Paintball all promised support to regional leagues, collected membership dues from the regional leagues' players, and did not follow through on their promised support.

As for those vs. PSP, Missy is living in the past. Did PSP do those things first? No. But they also did not drive themselves into bankruptcy (twice) either. The important thing is, is PSP doing those things now? Are they doing them in a manner that does not appear to be putting the survival of the league at risk? It would appear so.

It's not like we're not sure if the current PSP would do these things or not. They are already running the best webcast in the history of paintball. They're already partnering with regional leagues. They're already standardizing the ruleset across those leagues, including game and classification rules.

But why even mention Pure Promotions or Pacific Paintball? They have no relevance to now. Both of those companies were backed by hundreds of thousands to millions in investment dollars. They were only able to do those things because someone was willing to risk a lot of their own money to make it happen. The USPL does not have that hidden cash reserve somewhere. It is broke. It is not going to be a NPPL 2 or a NPPL 3. There is no pile of money to hire sales people or run good webcasts or, it would appear, even write all the prize checks without post-dating some of them.

USPL can barely get 40 teams to pay to play their league. There are almost no 7-man leagues left in the country, and most of the current ones will not exist next year (see: WCPPL going RaceTo)

7-man is a lost cause. USPL is an underfunded, low-attendance league with no hope of growth given the complete lack of any lower-level leagues playing the format. The question is, how much damage do we want to let it do on the way out?

Missy Q said...

I mention PP because there is a direct precedent. As for 'living in the past', I'm talking about 2003 to 2007. If you don't think these years are relevant to this discussion then you're crazy. Half the things you propse were done, by PP, between these years.
As for the 'Best webcast in the history of paintball', is this a sensationalist way of saying 'in the past 4 years?', or 'out of the 2 contenders' There have only been paintball webcasts for this long, and while the PSP one is the best - best compared to what?
No, while there may be some relevance to the original post as an immediate snap-shot of the current tournament climate, it is extremely naive and one dimensional. It only makes sense if you ignore facts and immerse yourself in self-interest, as the original post did.

Baca Loco said...

You are leaping to an unsupported and erroneous conclusion. I am NOT Information Merchant, nor do I make team policy independently.

Anonymous said...

There is direct precedent for what?

So far, we have direct precedents for two things:

1) Not spending money on outreach
2) Spending a lot of money on outreach, but still losing a pile of money because the income that resulted didn't cover the increased expenses.

Doing impressive things is not, by itself, an accomplishment. If you're not doing those things in a manner that is sustainable (money in is greater than money out), then you're just a flash in the pan that is going to die out in short order (see: NPPL 2.0 and NPPL 3.0).

It doesn't look like NPPL 4.0 is even going to flash.

Missy Q said...

also - "Hidden cash-pile", "backed by hundreds of thousands to millions of investment dollars".

Also Naive. Also fact-free.

Also, Pure Promotions didn't go bankrupt. It was sold to Pacific Paintball. Pacific paintball went bankrupt because it refused to invest further in the industry. It's owners had the money, they just chose not to invest.

Reiner Schafer said...

Well I supose no company would ever need to go bankrupt if the investors were willing to keep upping their investment. Not sure that is a wise business decision though. Sooner or later, you are going to have to pull the plug on the life support system.

Anonymous said...

Pure Promotions was sold to Pacific Paintball because it was the only alternative for the big financial hole it had dug itself into. As for Pacific Paintball, exactly. Ceasing business operations because you have lost more money than you have made is the definition of bankruptcy. We can all avoid bankruptcy if someone gives us more money to lose, but clearly the Pacific Paintball investors decided they had already lost enough.

Neither league was able to make more money than it lost. So you're still citing the 'achievments' of two leagues whose only real accomplishments were spending themselves into debt. Anybody who doesn't mind going out of business can do that.

Mike said...

My bad Baca. That was a big leap to a conclusion.

Missy Q said...

Wow Anon, it sounds like you have no access to the financials involved. Are these just your own personal conclusions, gleaned without the benefit of hard data?

You're argument seems to be that the PSP (once the USPL and 7-man is out of the way), will suddenly do what it has never actually done. They will decide to invest in area's that they have previously decided not to invest in, and they will adopt the mindset of PP, without losing any money of course, and by doing it in a 'better, 5-man way'.
You also seem to believe that while the car companies etc did not continue to support 7-man, with its HB venue, huge crowds and guaranteed exposure, TV coverage, webcast and big-event feel, they would definitely be interested if it were 5-man at Polk County, or the Badlandz, and if it was the newly hired 'PSP sponsorship guy' that was contacting them. Seriously, did 7-man assault you in the showers or something, because I can't see the rational for your argument...

Please enlighten me, and explain the basis for this belief system.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say any of that.

Format is immaterial, so long as people want to play the format. It does appear that at the moment, there is an extreme shortage of people who want to play 7-man.

It shouldn't be a big leap that PSP will continue to do what it is already doing: Gettingn lots of regional leagues on the same page, running solid events, improving the webcast. These are things they are doing now.

With extra cash flow, PSP will also invest in some outreach. Those Doritos logos came from somewhere. But I highly doubt any of PSP's outreach plans depend on pushing the value of people attending the events. PP and PP already proved that's not where the value is, although it shouldn't be surprising that someone formerly involved in trying to sell the value of event attendees has trouble seeing past just selling the value of event attendees.

Missy Q said...

"With extra cash-flow, PSP will invest in some outreach. Those Dorito's Logo's came from somewhere"

Is this guesswork? It just looks exactly like guesswork. What leads you to believe this to be the case? What tells you that the Dorito's logo's are not just a wild stab in the dark, a speculation that failed to bear fruit?

As for your last comment, I have been formerly involved in a lot of things, many specifically to do with events - does this make me more or less able to recognise when someone is not making any sense? However, I accept your pathetic attempt at personal defamation as a clear sign of your inability to form a cohesive argument. You're breaking down....

Anonymous said...

That wasn't personal defamation.

And yes, if you'd like, call the prediction guesswork. I don't think anyone, you or me, has any lock on ability to predict the future.

It does seem a bit contrived to me to base predictions of the future on a comparison between a well-funded and at the time quite popular PP and PSP in 2003-2006, a well-funded and at the time increasingly unpopular PP and PSP in 2007-2008, and an underfunded and record-unpopular USPL and PSP in 2009-2010. You don't seem to be willing to accept that things have changed.

But even if you don't accept that things have changed, the resuls speak for themselves: PP and PP are out of business, so whatever they were doing, while perhaps pretty, didn't work.

Missy Q said...

while I don't claim to be able to predict he future (yet), I, like anyone who looks to predict trends in industry, can only look back at recent events/actions to see any emerging pattern. Based on this pattern we are able to decide, to a degree, the probability of future actions.
Thats what I am doing.
What you are doing is what I call 'wishful thinking', or 'guessing', only you are packaging your guesses in a 'Chris Raehl fashion', which is where you write opinions and guesses as fact, or educated projection, as when packaged this way they seem more pheasable, and way more informed, until the package comes under inspection...

I have had this discussion before, several years ago, but the other way around - ie. Why doesn't the floundering PSP quit and let NPPL have the tournaments, combine the money in THAT pot, which already has the infrastructure to perform the actions outlined in the OP. Perhaps if that had happened, the NPPL would be alive and kicking, and the industry would be in a better place - perhaps not.
Obviously that didn't happen, and while I myself believe that the PSP format is now the one with the legs, I am not blinkered or forgetful enough to believe that 'one league' is the answer to the real problem at hand, or in fact a solution to anything in particular. In fact it may even be detrimental.

Anonymous said...

'Chris Raehl' fashion? Who is being personally derogatory now?

Anonymous said...


*One league provides the pro designation with legitimacy and out sport as a whole unifies
*Although not everyone will transfer over if seven man disappears, about 80% will. Which is still a good amount of money
*Although the PSP in the past has been stingy about spending money and seems to be all talk and no action. They are doing really well despite losing one of their largest league sponsors (SP)
*With no direct competition the PSP might feel a little safer and try some new things that they have been reluctant to try in the past
*A united front with which we can present the sport of competitive paintball


*One league could monopolize the sport and could do what ever it wanted. This is especially scary since the PSP doesn't really take much input from the players...
*With no competition the league could sit back on its ass and do nothing to improve the sport knowing that it is the only option for players looking to compete nationally.

I think I covered everything I wanted to get out there. I agree with you Missy up until you get to the part where you say that one league could be detrimental. We have limited amounts of money to spend on the sport, sponsors and players alike. With two leagues at each others throats the players are the ones that are losing out.

Its bad enough our sport is split between tourny and woodsball, lets not split it even more.

Missy Q said...

You could be right Frank, my argument re. the benefit of 2 leagues hinges on the fact that tournament paintball has advanced and professionalised substantially due to the competition of the leagues. I have total faith that the PSP will continue to put on great events. but less confidence that they will explore the external sponsorship and promotional angles mentioned in the OP.

Mark790.06 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Well if you weren't referring to that, what were you referring to?

Anonymous said...


Why do you keep touting NPPL 2.0 and NPPL 3.0's efforts as a template for success? Given the results, isn't the fact that PSP is NOT trying to do the same thing that they did a GOOD thing? If I were running a national league, and I looked at history, I would be very wary of the NPPL approach to achieving outside involvement. I would realize that I could make a splash of out-of-industry involvement if I was willing to spend some money, but I'd also realize I would be bankrupt in a couple years, especially if I didn't happen to be able to subsidize my league promotion efforts off of my gun sales business.

Missy Q said...

I don't really know what NPPL 2 and 3 are.
presumably NPPL 1 is 10-man? NPPL 2 is the Pure version and NPPL 3 is pacific paintball?
You say the NPPL went bankrupt twice. I count only once, but amongst the plethora of inaccuracies you have divulged so far, this one isn't worth dwelling on.

You are saying that what Pure did was a bad thing (again, so it seems right now, your arguments lack cohesion so it's hard to tell from one post to the next), and the fact that PSP didn't undertake these promotional efforts is therefore a 'good' thing, and yet in the OP you say that the PSP 'could' do all the things that PP did, if the player-owned USPL would just curl up and die, and there was just one league.
Do you see why this is confusing?

I have no issue with fanboyism in its purest form, but while you berate me for bringing up previous years experiences, and say it's not valid 'in the now', I claim that it is the only thing valid in this argument. I can only do the sensible thing, and draw from past experiences, I don't have the impudence to guess at what might happen without any evidence that it will actually transpire, based only on my desire to win an argument. That would be a crappy argument anyway, and impossible to win, as you are demonstrating.

You have proved that you don't know enough financials to comment with any authority on the costings involved.
You admit to be 'guessing' as to the actual intentions of the PSP and their willingness to actually do the things you suggest.
You discount all previous efforts to do these things you suggest out of hand, with no actual knowledge of how successful each individual effort was.
As it happens, some of Pure's efforts in Promotion were very cheap and very successful, generating good sponsorship revenue. I know this, because I am privy to this information. You lack this information, so naturally assume it must not exist, or that Pure Promotions spent 5 years losing money. Again, not true, but I know that won't slow you down....

If you had all the info, and an open mind, you would have a different and more rounded argument. Again, at the end of your post you make unsubstantiated statements. You say that PP used gun sales to subsidise the NPPL. This may be a natural assumption, but you have no idea if it's true or not. Other than Season 1 (2003) this was never the case. I am in a position to know this, again, you are not.

I could sit here and argue all day, but it will be the same pattern. You will make unsubstantiated shot-gun-style guesses and assumptions, I will counter with knowledge of the facts and experience in doing exactly what you are proposing. I can't change my argument as it is embedded in factual events and truth. I have a feeling you won't change yours, because even anonymous posters can have their pride hurt.....

Anonymous said...

Missy glad to hear were on the same page again.

Anonymous the thing that really fucked up the NPPL was its obsession with TV. The other outside participants in the NPPL did help it financially, but they pissed damn near all that money away courting TV deal after TV deal. TV is what killed the NPPL, but they weren't they only people drinking the TV coolade.

PSP spent plenty of time and money wining and dining Dick Clark and they lost a lot of money when Dick Clark had his stroke and the deal fell through the cracks.

From what I understand (not claiming this part to be fact)dye and SP shelled out a ton of money to fill that hole left in the PSPs budget after that.

Another person who fell pray to the TV was Smart Parts, one of the PSP's biggest sponsors lost tons of money on that ESPN smart parts world series of paintball that they put out. The venue was expensive and ESPN is never a cheap date. They hoped it would boost sales of their markers watching their sponsored teams slug it out, winning with their products, and maybe even turning a profit selling DVD's of the tourney, but it didn't. It got viewers, but it didn't help their sales and no one bought the DVD box sets, well at least not untill they started clearing them out for $20 a set.

At the time everyone thought that TV was the only way to get our sport to the next level. Everyone was throwing money at it hoping it would net back huge returns. The NPPL people just didnt want to give up on trying like the PSP did. So they got burned over and over.

The idea to find non industry sponsors is a great idea and going after them was certainly not the death of the league, a few meetings, maybe a dinner, and a few power point presentations for bawls energy drink doesn't cost a lot. It was their willingness to piss away money towards courting TV deals that sank them.

Actually I think Baca wrote an article on this. Either him or Rich Telford...

Baca Loco said...

While I was entertained by the initial rounds of Missy vs. Anon the debate is losing my interest. So perhaps we could rephrase a bit and let it go.

Regarding previous NPPLs within the context of Info Merchant's Open Letter:
Whatever may be said about past versions of the NPPL their defining characteristic in the present is that they are no more. They have ceased to be. They have expired. They have joined the choir eternal. And, bottom line, that is because they ultimately failed to achieve their own goals in a sustainable way.

Now, moving on, perhaps the more relevant aspects of Info Merhcnant's open letter might be addressed. Will, in fact, no competition for the limited resources of comeptitive paintball a) promote greater security for the existing structure [the PSP] and b) generate the kinds of results I.M. hopes for?

Missy Q said...

Do we need to reference any actual evidence, and build a relevant and compelling case for our posts, or are we supposed just say what we would really like to happen, and repeat said 'wish' 3 times, hopefully in a forceful enough way to encourage others to agree?

Baca Loco said...

Not at all Missy but you two were (are) getting bogged down in debating exactly what happened to past incarnations of the NPPL. Not the merits, or lack thereof, of the letter's core premise.
It seems more like your defending elements of the old NPPL than you are using the deficiencies you see in the argument to make a counter-case.
However, my intention isn't to stop either of you. If you want to chase each other around in circles you (and Anon) are welcome to do so. Calling someone raehl-like (other than raehl) so early on was nearly beyond the pale. Where do you go after that?

Missy Q said...

slightly boggy perhaps, but the core premise was that the PSP could (given a monopoly) be able to do the promotional sponsorship thing where the NPPL failed. My point is that only the most expensive efforts actually failed for tghe NPPL(hence no more league.) I also shifted some credit attributed to the PSP to the right home, due to further inaccuracies.

If the original statement is not accurate, how can the ensuing debate avoid discussing these inaccuracies, without lending credence to them?
If ignorance is encouraged, how can enlightenment be acheived?

Anyway, I am sure that if there were one league, and it were the PSP, and they had the inclination & funds available, they would be able to assemble a team that could bring in outside revenue. Of course they could. They are smart people. I don't know if they are motivated in this direction, but that may change - who knows?

One more thing though...
What constitutes a successful webcast?
If I apply 'Anon's logic, things that the NPPL did, which lost money, and forced them into 'countless' bankrupcies, were all dumb, and the reason for their failure(s).
That said, the PSP webcast is a gaping money-pit, where over 150k has been invested, and very little revenue obtained. SP are no longer a sponsor. Times are tight. Dye are footing the bill. They want to do it again all of next season.
Does PSP shut down the 'most bestest webcast ever in the history of paintball'? Is that what Anon would suggest? Because in his initial statement he advocates that the PSP could 'make the webcast better'.
Newsflash - making it better would also equate to 'making it even more expensive'.
If not, then does he believe that the PSP is just as guilty of the transgressions he accuses the NPPL of?
Is 'the webcast' (as good as it is) actually in danger of becoming the PSP's 'TV fiasco'?

Baca Loco said...

Nothing wrong with your rebuttals, Missy. They simply seemed to me to lack context given that the substance of the open letter as I read it is the premise that competitive paintball would be best served by one major league called the PSP.

Anonymous said...

Right now we would be better off with one league. We don't have the money to keep both these leagues alive. Why starve them both when we have more then enough to keep one of them fat and happy?

Missy Q said...

Indeed, but there's little fun in arguing that. The re-unification debate was last year, or the year before, or even the year before that. Everyone agreed it was a good thing, although circumstances were a little different.
This was covered in Anon's first paragraph.

As always, the devil is in the detail. Anon's details are inaccurate, and coming from an 'Information Merchant', I would expect higher quality information, that's all.

I agree with re-unification, always have. The fact that I am still in favor shows a lack of bias.
Was Anon making this case when 7-man was the dominant format?

InformationMerchant said...

Anon may or may not have been, but I was. And I was making the case for the NPPL to be the one league. I was quite a supporter, back then. Now, I guess I am format agnostic and just in favor of the advancement (hell, the survival) of the sport at the national level.

Patrick said...

Missy, are you pissed at me because I had no room for you on my side of the field?


Missy Q said...

Oh Puhleez Pat. I think what you're doing is amazing, I will always be one of your biggest fans. I hope that you can see that I want you to continue to be successful, but in a self-sufficient way. Once the webcast-honeymoon is over you need to be able to show value for your product, in case funding becomes unavailable or limited in the future. I am sure this is something you have thought about yourself.
I'm sure you will find me consistent in my praise for your product, and besides, anyone diss'ing the webcast would currently be ostracised from the game and beaten with sticks, such is the universal love for what you have done so far. Personally I do think you should have charged for the WC webcast, and set expectations for next year. It's a quality product which people should not expect for free, unless of course - it's always been free...

Anonymous said...

Per charging for the webcast...both leagues have tested the waters of charging for the product. I assume it must've really hurt the numbers, or they would've kept on charging.

When it comes to sponsor potential, they don't care how much you charged for your product, they care about the size of the audience.

So, it appears that if you're after sponsor dollars for the webcast, you can't charge the viewers, as the numbers drop to a level below what could offer a feasible ROI for sponsors.

Missy Q said...

You can have both, but you have to have the balls to hold out. The NPPL caved when they should have held off.
First time you charge, numbers will be lower, for sure. There will be an outcry and evryone will say they would watch again if it were free. It will be tempting to abandon the fee's and shoot for the larger Audience, but you have to stick it out, make the webcast impossible to miss. Competitions, prizes, things thgey can't get even if they are at the event. The viewership will grow over the season, and you can always sell the shows for 75%-off a week or so after each event. Sponsors are better off advertising to paying customers. It's a much better payload than shotgun marketing. It's too good, and too costly, to be free forever. Plus, if you have your veiwers you have a handle on your destiny. In these times who wants to be relying on industry sponsorships/advertisements?

raehl said...

Charging for the webcast doesn't make sense because the costs of accepting the payments eats up too much of the revenue. The webcast has more value as a sponsor platform, team promotion platform, and advertising for the league/format.

Patrick Spohrer said...

Miss I was just playing with you... I feel your love! You do bring up some good points.


Missy Q said...

You are charged for processing the payment, true, but you can shop around and get a deal that isn't prohibitive. If you're interested I could find out what's currently the best deal.

I hear what you're saying Chris, but it would have to be a pretty 'fancy' platform to justify say, the next 2 seasons. The league would have to consider what else can they could do with that money, which would better benefit the league/format. Do they want to pay for a 'team Promotion Platform'? Do they really need a platform for the format?
This is just my opinion, but I would like to see Pats creation become independent of industry sponsorship. The winners are the veiwers. I think they should be footing at least half of the bill.

raehl said...

I wasn't talking about the payment processing costs MQ. The real costs are the kid who pays the $9.95 or whatever, then can't get the feed for whatever reason. The satellite truck don't work, there is a global DOS attack slowing down traffic, or most likely, his ISP sucks or he is on dial-up or his computer is too laden with malware to allow his processor to uncompress the feed. Then he emails you and says he paid but didn't get anything, or runs a chargeback, or whatever. And on top of that, you have to pay someone to wade through and process each complaint, regardless of whether it's legitimate or just someone trying to scam their $9.95 back.

Then there is the issue of actually paying. Most of the people who watch the webcast I would guess are not 18 years old. They can't just pay for the webcast - they have to borrow a parent's credit card to do so. That's a whole audience you're excluding because they can't pay conveniently even if they wanted to - and then the parents who charge back the $9.95 they don't realize little johnny charged to their card.

The point of the matter is, once you go from "free" to "not free", there are a big pile of costs that you add to the equation, that I don't think can currently be made up for with the size of the audience willing to pay.

raehl said...

One more thought:

I think PSP aims to exceed expectations, but this is still a work in progress. PSP is actually incredibly cutting edge in delivering LIVE sports content over the internet. It's not just a paintball first, it really is pushing the bounds of internet technology that is available today.

It is a lot easier to exceed expectations when the expectation is "worth my time" than the expectation is "worth my time AND money".

Once you start charging for the webcast, the people paying for the webcast start assigning a much higher value to what they are paying for, and leave with negative feelings if the product comes up short. And I just don't think the technology is here yet to allow PSP (or anyone else) to deliver a reliable broadcast over the internet.

Over the past week, I have had piss-poor experiences trying to watch content on YouTube and Hulu, the biggest players in the RECORDED video game, but it was free, so what do I care? But that shows you how hard it is to get that feed out LIVE.

I think people really underestimate the cutting-edge technology behind getting the quality feed out that PSP does to so many people in real-time.

Anonymous said...

I think Chris makes a valid point. We can all agree that the PSP Webcast is exceptional and that Pat and the guys have done a lot with a little. However, once you move beyond free and try to make it a self-sustainable product, it loses the very thing that helped make it that great thing, the viewers. I think this will be a hard decision for PSP in 2010. Then again we have no one giving us the real story on how PSP intends on using the webcast moving forward. That fact alone determines how it continues beyond this season.