This continues to be a highly polarizing subject--at least in some quarters. I suspect most of y'all hold a strong opinion about this one way or the other but defending that opinion isn't a very high priority. This subject usually comes up when there's a whiff of greenbacks in the air or the latest announcement of competitive paintball's imminent success on TV is made. ('Cus everybody knows TV=buckets o' cash.) And it will continue to come up--whether VFTD gets that ball rolling or not--because nobody ever does anything about it. Yet, if real money arrives it will bring its own set of problems to be resolved.
First another history lesson. (I know, I'm starting to hate them too.) The game's first encounter with TV (ESPN even!) occurred in 1996 (I think) and featured a custom made pallet field carved out of an orange grove and eventually led to Jerry Braun threatening ESPN with lawsuits for breach of contract over air times, if I remember correctly. Needless to say that didn't pan out. (Braun was part of the group that by that time had been named as the promoters of NPPL events and who would become one of the original PSP owners.) Without getting too bogged down in details the next few forays into TV were promoted by both the newly independent NPPL (1.0) run by Pure Promotions and the NXL--as distinct from the PSP. In the case of the NXL it was structured like the NFL with franchise teams owning the league. TV would ostensibly have seen the teams organize around agreed upon terms, etc. with players under contract. The NPPL 1.0 version merely promised the existing pro teams that there would be an opportunity if TV jumped in with both feet. As envisioned the TV deal would be with the league and since teams that were in the league would be on TV they could make their own separate deals with potential sponsors. Now that may sound reasonable and workable but it largely isn't. First thing it doesn't address is oversight of the sport--which NPPL 1.0 had negligible interest in anyway--and the second thing it didn't address was the fact the league would be in competition with its teams for sponsors--and have an enormous built-in advantage.
Back to the present nothing much has changed. NPPL 3.0 is closer to the NXL model but without the organization, contracts and paperwork--just the big idea of one day collecting TV cheese. And the PSP is a tournament promoter tied to the PBA by shared ownership stakes. (Part of the PSP ownership also owns part of PBA.) Where the NPPL 3.0 has made no real progress landing the TV whale it remains their reason to exist. The PBA has gone a different direction. It is using new technologies to build an audience that sponsors will want to reach with advertising. Be it TV or live webcasting the income source is the same.
For fifteen plus years elements of the industry and two leagues have chased TV money. And what have they been trying to sell? Pro paintball. And just who plays pro paintball? The pro teams.
Today PBA is working hard, spending a bunch of money, doing an excellent job with their webcast and building an audience. An audience that is watching pro paintball matches.
Today the PSP determines who will play in the Pro division and who won't. (As does NPPL 3.0) There is no independent oversight or rules governing the sport. (There is no sport.)
If/when PBA begins to see ad revenues coming in what happens? Do they collect as much as they can and everyone goes home happy? [Were you aware PBA is looking to expand beyond the paintball market in the future into other arenas where they might make live broadcasting profitable?]
The answer of course is no. And it remains no no matter what anyone thinks or how anyone feels about it. It's still no whether it's right or wrong in your's or the next guy's estimation. It's no because the transaction hinges on the pro teams playing matches and as soon as anybody turns those teams into a commodity that has some value they will insist on receiving value in return.
Today nobody sweats the details. Nobody is worried about rights or licenses or use permissions for a whole host of things related to the teams playing and the webcast broadcasting them. And being on the webcast is better than not but make no mistake--the pro teams only have the option of making passive decisions, decisions available only on the margins.
But but but . . . it isn't fair! Somebody else spent all the money and took all the risk. So what? Did anyone put a gun to their heads? Do you honestly think either the PSP or PBA would sell shares of either company to any of the pro teams that have the means to buy in? Sure they took a risk but they also called all the shots. It doesn't mean they alone should profit--not when they're selling something they neither own or have any agreements with or rights to.
Look I'm not saying this is good or bad or something in-between. I'm saying it's something that will be a problem and a big one at that if everyone simply waits around until forced to do something. It is far more prudent and sensible to think about now and begin to lay the groundwork for resolving these concerns before things get ugly. What's wrong with that?