Thursday, February 25, 2010

PSP Webcast Blues

The PSP's webcast is on hold. I mentioned it in this week's MLP on Suicide Watch. There's info and opinions over at ProPaintball. It was a decision nobody wanted to make but the simple fact is the history of the paintball webcast weighed heavily on that decision. There's always been lots of talk about the willingness to pay but somehow those dollars never materialized when the time came to ante up. And the quality of the PSP's webcast isn't cheap--at least not according to paintball's current means. Pat's webcast premiered during WC '08. It was free the first two days, and the numbers grew from Thursday to Friday. The league charged $5 for the weekend and viewership dropped 75%. They didn't make anything close to covering the cost and worse, nobody watched. (Relatively speaking. A very few thousand peeps paid.) The webcast was brought back for '09 and the decision was made to provide it free to viewers and see if sufficient numbers could be generated to make it worthwhile to PBIndustry and outside industry advertising. The numbers were better but not good enough. For WC '09 the league made pay-per-view games and a VOD option available that generated less income than the $5 per viewer of WC '08. The highest quality webcast the PSP knew how to provide has cost the league around 300K including the capital investment in equipment. That is the history of the webcast to date. But that history doesn't have to be the future.

The PSP does have a plan for the future that includes a webcast but there are no guarantees they will be able to make that particular future happen. Or how far in the future it will be should it arrive. However, it seems to me there may be alternatives worth exploring. How about pre-sold subscriptions for WC '10? Tier 1 is the live webcast. Tier 2 is live webcast and the post event download of x number of matches. Tier 3 is the live webcast and a post production WC '10 DVD. Pay for as much or as little of the webcast as you want and the league knows going in approx. how much they'll make. How big a hassle would it be to set-up to take those sorts of subscriptions? I don't know but if enough people are willing to pony up something in advance it just might be possible. And how 'bout a special rate for stores and pro shops to receive the live feed? They could organize special events or sales around the opportunity for their regulars to see the greatest competitive paintball on earth. Would it be enough? I don't know. It could be the logistics are crazy complicated. One thing I know, bitching about it won't change anything. If you've got another idea let's hear it. If Camille got enough emails from peeps willing to buy an advance subscription to a WC '10 webcast the league would at least have to look at the possibility, wouldn't they?


Janek said...

Where do I sign up?

anonachris said...

The PSP spent 300k on the webcast? That was 8 events right? I wonder how much was payroll vs. equipment vs. lodging/food/transport.

That's almost 40k an event. That is crazy. What an obscene waste of money if they didn't have any investors targeted to sell ads to before they launched it.

There is no way they could make that work in this industry. I think the PSP is awesome, but if they really dropped that kind of coin on a "go hard or go home" philosphy it's almost as dumb as the Gardners spending rumored $1million on EPSN/Casino fiasco. At least with that they were rolling the dice on a network bid.

I can't help but imagine it could have been done at about 80% of the quality for a huge savings. It would not have been as good as it was, but it probably didn't need to be. It feels grand to say, we wanted to do it right or not do it at all. But the corollary to that seems to be a fool and his money are soon parted.

I can't imagine if the PSP solicted some bids they could have had a much better price and decent enough quality to run the webcast for 4 years at that price, if not more. Derder I'm thinking could have done a pretty good job. There certainly could have been smarter ways to do it on the cheap.

So now it looks like the PSP has made the same mistake as the NPPL Super 7. The NPPL dreamed big, spent a lot of money (much more than 300k) and left no legacy behind because they were trying to build something that couldn't support itself and the PSP did the same.

I know lose money on each unit but make it up in volume is a cliche, but man, why does paintball have to keep repeating it?

Where's the Dye business model in all this? Dye has a premium product they charge premium prices for. All of the sudden they offer a premium product for free and charge no or rock-bottom prices. What?

I know a lot of people directly involved are probably hurt and sad this isn't continuing so I certainly have the least right to complain, just being a whiney spectator.

But as a "concerned member of the public" (lame I know) this lack of foresignt and prudent financial planning leaves us without any webcast, instead of a fancy high end one.

Ride or Die isn't so much fun when you run out of gas.

Don Saavedra said...

Anonachris... your comments seem to be coming from a place of entitlement. You may not have intended it, but you seem to blame the PSP for doing the webcast they wanted to do. Could they have done a crappy webcast for much cheaper? Yes. In fact, they have: mine.

But that's not how they wish to represent themselves and if they can't do it to a level they are satisfied with, taking an event or more off is a reasonable alternative.

Anonymous said...

I'd rather watch one season of amazing video quality webcasts then 4 seasons of USPL quality webcasts. As a matter of fact, if the NPPL does the same crap webcast from HB I'll be expecting THEM to pay ME.

I also like the idea of tier'd subscriptions.

David said...

how about season and event subscriptions. If you want too watch the whole season buy a season webcast, other wise buy an event. Then offer a free webcast, without say, commentary or extras. Give give em basic cable for free and charge for bells and whistles.

anonachris said...

Entitlement? I suppose when you get down to it that's what all sideline quaterbacking is? I don't deserve a webcast. I don't care if I have one actually. It's nice to watch and I'll tune in if teams I like are doing well and in the finals.

But where I think the webcast is brilliant is getting people involved and excited in the top level tournament scene. That's exactly what our sport needs (in my opinion): more players looking to the top and aspiring to it.

We cut that off and we cut off the pathway for players to look to the top.

Now I suppose the entitlement (don't forget presumption!) is that I'm using "we". When I've got nothing to do with it and no say in how it should be (rightly so I suppose since I'm no one).

So on one hand I'm not sitting here sideline quarterbacking asking to be given the reigns so I can do it better (not doing that). But I am sitting on the sidelines saying, yep, that was a mistake, a big one.

David, there's no doubt in my mind that a web cast done for half the cost would have been very impressive to you and still reached all the PSP's goals.

And you'd have to go back to the PSP's goal. Is it put on the best webcast possible? (if it was, I'll judge that to be one dumb goal) Or is it present the PSP and its teams to the fans online in a good way?

Well I don't want to beat the dead horse too much, because the webcast rocked. I'm just disappointed to see it fizzle out, like it had to, because the financial decisions behind it weren't very sound.

Reiner Schafer said...

I don't have a solution. I only ask the obvious question. What do the youngins have to aspire to if they can't see the best to idolize them?

I watch sports on TV (rarely go to live games), but I'm sure that I would watch very little or have never caught the bug to watch certain sports, if I had to pay for the pleasure. That's just the reality of life.

If free viewing pleasure can't be worked into the budget of the PSP (or any other professional league), there is something seriously wrong with the whole concept and infrastructuure of professional paintball. The kiddies HAVE to have viewing access and the product HAS to be entertaining (easier said than done) for long term success of the league.

If it's entertaining, people will watch. If people will watch, someone will pay to advertise. If it can't be made entertaining and free (to view), the pros might as well pick up their markers and masks and go home. There is no advertising value in a bunch of grown men and women and pubescent boys and girls gathering in one city to play a game when nobody is watching.

Without fans, there is no true professional league (in any sport).

Patrick said...

Well said Reiner Schafer, I share you point of view.


patrick said...

Typo "Your"


Baca Loco said...

I think any rational person would agree with Reiner. The problem is getting there from here. (If Reiner only knew how the original NXL handled things ...) Then again, consider something like the UFC. the majority of their events are PPV.

Have you done any calculations on producing a cheaper version? Maybe using only fixed position cameras, fewer crew, no stats, etc? I'd bet you could still put out a quality product w/out the bells and whistles.

raehl said...

No matter what it is, you pretty much have to prove you can do it and that what you do will have value before you can get someone else pay for it.

PSP didn't know what the outcome would be. They ponied up the money and gave it a shot. They proved they could create a good product. They also, unfortunately, seemed to prove that the audience isn't there yet. So it makes sense to take a break until they figure out the audience problem. But when that happens, they already know how to make the product.

Having been involved in paintball broadcast production for a few years, I can say with some confidence that the PSP webcast is already at pretty much the minimum expense you can be at without turning out crap. And I agree that if the best you're going to do is crap, then you just shouldn't do it. It doesn't help you.

Johnny5072 said...

Does anyone truly believe that the answer to the webcasts financial problems will be solved by the viewers? From reading what everyone is posting, I would say no. So that leaves us with someone or something that is willing to take a risk and most likely a loss. I just don't see it happening. There is a vocal minority that clamor for greatness and "I want my webcast". The problem is now, that after a season of a quality webcast, they know what it takes to do and roughly how much it costs. It would take a lot of convincing to some outside/inside source, be it advertiser or sponsor, that their money is well spent in backing the webcast. The exposure for the sake of advertising doesn't give you the highest impact for your dollar. The sponsors/advertisers are paying too high a price for the amount of exposure they are getting. It's like buying an ad during the Superbowl without the millions of viewers. Playing devils advocate, What does a company or group of companies get by backing a PSP Webcast? Exposure? Product launches?
Again we all agree it is entertaining to watch and a good thing for Paintball, but that's all inside the bubble.
The only people that know about the webcast are those involved in Paintball by a certain number of degrees (friends,family,players,etc.). You can try and expand the audience, but again that takes marketing and more money and who knows if that will be financially viable either. I think the best thing is to hold off until World Cup and try to get as many Adevetiser/Sponsor interests and backing as possible and take it from there.

Patrick said...

We have looked in to trying to cut cost and trying to streamline it down.
All things are being considered, but the reality of the situation is that it cost money to produce a webcast no matter how you slice it. Cutting more to save money, then quality goes downhill fast.


Don Saavedra said...

Butts in the seats, my friends. That's the answer. Well, not the answer. That's the necessary component for the recipe to work. It's the New York cut in your Steak Dinner.

Now I am proud of the product that Patrick produced. I think it is good, compelling coverage and I feel the league and the players have come together to create real drama on the field. The next step (above affording to produce it in the first place, and while that is an important consideration it is not its own means to an end) is to correctly market it to fill those seats with the aforementioned butts. What avenues were used to let people know when there would be a webcast and where to find it? PbNation and Facebook? The PSP webpage itself? Do we really think that's adequate?

Baby steps, though. As the Faction pointed out above, first you have to prove you can make the product in the first place. And there are still ways I think we can improve the show (one of which I'm working on right now in hopes that we have another broadcast to test it out).

I'm patient and confident. I know the powers that be are committed to a webcast, but, as the Phoenix decision proves, not to the detriment of the league itself and I think that's something to applaud.

Hippo said...

PSP's facebook page, they are promising a webcast in Chicago.!/pspevents?ref=mf

"Paintball Sports Promotions (PSP)
Paintball Sports Promotions (PSP)
Not at all! We will not be holding a webcast for Phoenix but we will be back in action for the Chicago event!!"

It's about 3/4 down the page, under the announcement about Planet Eclipse becoming a Master Sponsor.

The comment I quoted was posted yesterday. The original post about Planet Eclipse was posted 2/19.

Hippo said...

That link may not work...I was logged in. But you can search facebook for PSP and find their page.