Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Can The Webcast Be A Success?

I know, you want to claim it's already a success. And by some metrics that's true but the fact that it's well done, you and your friends like it and (hypothetically) the numbers of watchers has been growing consistently doesn't mean it's a success in any of the ways that ultimately matter. So far the hard truth is that another substantial pile of cheddar has been spent creating, producing and delivering the webcast to tens of thousands of computers, smart phones and tablets around the world. That's progress (fingers crossed), not success. Necessary but incomplete. At some point in this process PaintballAccess needs to make money instead of simply spending money--and sooner rather than later--because eventually either the money or the willingness to keep spending without a return runs out no matter the best intentions of everyone involved.
In the past a number of related efforts have been made to cash in on the tourney market or to popularize competitive paintball mostly geared around broadcast TV. But there was also an aborted effort once (or twice) upon a time to see if PPV would work. They fizzled as did most of the TV efforts though not always for the reasons most often assumed, numbers of viewers. Much of the problem wasn't too few viewers it was too few willing advertisers.
One imagines that PBA, more aware than most of the past, has and is taking steps hopefully to avoid another round of the failures of the past. In the meantime they continue to build an audience and refine their product--and see if they can twist a few bucks outta what passes for the industry these days. Which appears from this vantage point to have been something of a struggle, especially keeping the PSP and PBA uncoupled. PBA doesn't make sponsorships of an event series available and the PSP doesn't provide a webcast but given overlapping ownership I'd be surprised if some of the industry hadn't at least tried to piggyback one on the other. And in the long run the industry isn't going to be sufficient to support both the PSP and PBA.
Today the webcast resides in a kind of limbo capable of delivering advertising to their target market but without the client list of advertisers willing to pay for the service--yet. Various target numbers have been the goal that once reached would be sufficient to peak the interest of advertisers--and some of the latest numbers bandied about are in the target neighborhoods--but there is still no joy in Mudville. And here is where the limits of my information run dry.
What's next? How developed are the new media models? Who is operating in the marketplace putting advertisers and opportunities together? How widespread is niche marketing and how receptive are some of the big players in the advertising world to such overtures?
What's a realistic time frame to see this revenue model begin to work?
And what comes next if it doesn't?
Would a return to PPV keep PBA operational and the webcast ongoing indefinitely? And if the revenue model changed to PPV would the PPV ever go away even if the advertisers eventually got on board? It's clear that PBA has so far avoided even hinting at PPV but if that ends up being the difference between a webcast and no webcast how do your dollars vote?


volkan said...

I would gladly pay 30-50USD pr event.

Anonymous said...

I'd gladly pay $5 per day, per event. So for event 1, that would have meant $20. I also don't care if I still have to watch commercials.

Anonymous said...

What PBA needs is to create a product that people are willing to watch. Advertisers will pay when there are a lot of viewers. Right now, I doubt that there are a LOT of viewers. Or at least enough to gather the interest of outside companies.

Paintball is a niche market. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of companies that want to advertise to this niche, except for the ones that are doing so currently. If you want outside support, you have to bring in outside viewers. Paintball has to be made exciting to watch, and with the current format, I'm not sure that it truly is to someone who doesn't understand the sport.

squire said...

You make an excellent point and one that I have personally faced in our latest efforts to bring weekly paintball news too paintball. Any initial support went straight into a lean mean media making machine to ensure quality at a very, very, efficient price tag. There are so few companies to call on for support in the industry. They are all doing what they can to support good efforts as well. However, without outside support for programming or the willingness to work below minimum wage for media production... its just not going to be possible to sustain these efforts. Crowd sourcing may be the only solution. I think players believe we are all loaded and good to go.. when things are quite the opposite.

Anonymous said...

PBA needs to realize that they can't depend on paintball players as a platform to acquire an audience.

Coke, etc. have never been interested in the 10-20k paintball players who they already reach in other channels.

These advertisers want a new channel to reach 100k-200k people.

So PBA needs to put its product on display where a large audience can watch it. I'm not sure the ways to do that, but it would seem youtube would be nice. ESPN.com or Yahoo perhaps?

It would be too soon to discuss charging for access on PBA's part. In fact, I think it's too soon for them to be displaying advertising. That they are so quickly chasing 20k an event in advertising revenue shows how badly they need funds.

Seriously, what do you think Youtube spent on giving away a free service before they achieved a critical mass?

A program like PBA is all about the numbers. They need numbers, and they have to spend a lot more money to get the numbers and they're already trying to scrounge up a few thousand bucks in revenue per event.

That really doesn't bode well for the webcast.

But ultimately, what it may mean is the webcast will continue on a smaller scale, lower budget on a pay per view basis.

As a result of PBA, hopefully paintball will always have some kind of webcast, but it won't grow to mass market levels.

Missy Q said...

I posted this in teh Post dallas Wrap-up, but here it is again:

The guy that said it has to be sustainable has the right of it.

I think its an incredible product, and has been a truly impressive project.

None of that matters if it doesn't pay though. 10 people watching at a BBq, some of whom 'haven't even played before' - sounds warm and fuzzy, but it doesn't make any difference. The guy that funded PBA does not plan to continue to pay for it. The strategy is (and has to be) for it to be paid for through 'revenue' it generates. Numbers will be inflated in attempt to draw more advertisers, and that's standard. When the 2014 budget comes around, most of those advertisers will pull, or parlay the ads into their PSP sponsorships. At that point there's a problem. All my experience tells me that its too much of a financial liability to be sustainable long-term. That isn't meant to detract from the quality of the webcast.

The only way forward once the dust settles is to cut costs by killing 50% of the overhead, and going PPV. Thats the true test. How many people will pay? I watched some of the webcast. I also have disposable income, but I would not have paid to watch the webcast, even knowing it was going to be good.
This is not a new model. This is a high-cost/higher quality version of a model that has already failed at least once.

....and I'm not anti-webcast, quite the opposite.

Anonymous said...

If they charged $10 a tournament so they could keep it going, I'd pay the $10 whether I was gonna be able to watch it or not.
I've been around a while. I've seen the TV shows on Fox, ESPN, etc. The current PSP webcast is better than anything before it in my opinion.
I also don't see why people feel certain this should be intended for "other people". Why can't it just be something that paintball enthusiasts who can't make the event pay to watch.
So what if it's only 6,000 people (or 8,000 or however many there are)watching.
If those people are willing to pay for it and it covers the cost and puts a little money in the pocket of the people who took the chance on creating it, what's the problem?

Anonymous said...

If they charged $10 a tournament to watch 50% of their viewers would evaporate so they'd have to charge more.

The people that really really really want to watch the webcast will be willing to pay 50 bucks for an all event ticket and the ones who just want to watch on Sunday should have to pay $35.

If that sounds like a turn off to a lot of people, then it's about right. People may claim to kick in 10 bucks, but the vast majority will disappear. Dye knows well enough how to price things -- high enough so 50% of the people complain and then raise the price 10% higher.

Grant Harrison said...

PPV view is a double edged sword - while it may bring them crumbs to cover some production costs it will surely reduce viewership and therefore advertising appeal/value.

PBA should immediately design the webcast page to be a login access only page. That way they can create a viewer databases and stats which they can then use to help market themselves and add another valuable point of contact for advertisers and sponsors.

They really should be targeting mainstream ISP's, mobile phone providers, gaming companies and retailers as potential advertisers.

worldoftanks.com sponsors the cable show Top Shot. This is the perfect type of partnership that they should be looking into.

I hope PBA have a professional sales team on board.

Anonymous said...

What happens if the webcast fails?

How do we make paintball more appealing to the average person? Does the problem come from the type of format being played and how it is for people to understand?

Baca, what do you think will happen? What would you do to improve PBA?

NStoer said...

1. Keep the costs low, at least to start, no more than $10 for the event. There's people willing to pay higher but there are a lot more people who wouldn't. If it works, next year charge $25

2. Have it so you can pay the fee through text. Make it easy for the young kids who all have a cell phone; at only $10 they aren't going to have to explain the phone bill to their parents

The convenience and low cost will also target people who could only watch 1 or 2 days

Reiner Schafer said...

If the webcast is trying to attract viewers not involved in paintball yet (members of the general public) than ANY pay per view charge will eliminate virtually all 100% of those people. It will also eliminate most of the paintballers now tuning in.

There is no easy answer. Obviously the original idea was to improve the product so enough people tune in to make advertising revenue a possibility. If that hasn’t happened yet, then either the product is still not good enough, or simply, the competition that the product is showcasing is not interesting enough for the general public. If there is no Demand for a product being Supplied, then the product needs to be changed so a Demand is created. The Law of Supply and Demand can’t be sidestepped. There have been many an entrepreneur who made the assumption that a Demand can be created by Supplying a product, only to eventually find out that the Demand just isn’t there and can’t be created.

In the end, our game is very exhilarating to play, but creating something exciting enough to take people away from their other activities in their lives is obviously not easy to do.

Old-in-402 said...

I'm going to come right out and say it. The PBA broadcast is not that good.
Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy it. However, trying to get friends, even ones who played tournaments with me ten years ago and occasionally play rec-ball now, to watch is exhausting! I'm stuck with sooo much to explain. While Matty Marshall is grandizing about vague and ambiguous concepts like "gelling as a team", "team spirit", and "heart", I'm stuck with technical descriptions like D-side, dorito, temple, scoring, who shot who (becasue the camera missed it) yada, yada, yada. The broadcast is either too unfunded or too inexperienced to translate the game to the non-follower. In part I think some it lies with how they present the action. They're never at the right angle at the right time. Their scoring bars are only accurate half of the time. As a broadcast booth, they need to have a clearer answer of what penalties have been issued and how they were applied. These are some of the problems. I can't quite put my finger on the underlying pulse of the problem but I know for a fact that there is a problem relating to non-follower viewers.
It seems as though over the course of the entire tournament, they will touch on the more technical subjects of the game I described being stuck with above. However, this doesn't do any good for those just tuning in during the middle of the day to catch a match or two.
As this is getting lengthy I'll try to conclude. While Matty may be a good at keeping the pace, knowing the players, and filling the gaps, there needs to be an extreme re-focus on following the action better, either through announcing or, even better, through better camera work. It makes wonder if they operate on a delay and if not whether that would really help to compile the camera angles in order to actually show the significant moves on the field.

Just a rant.

Anonymous said...

Reiner -
You're analysis is wrong because it assumes a media market place where everyone has equal access and knowledge of what to watch.

The fact of the matter is that the only people who watch the webcast are those who know about PBA. There are 100,000 more people who know about a gun called an Ion (or an Angel for that matter) than know about PBA.

That should tell us something.

They've spent a great deal of money building a product out of PBA-PSP to showcase. Now they have to spend a great deal of money telling people about it, if they want to have a large audience.

They've spent more money on their media tower than they've spent advertising their product.

Superior products fail all the time. The fact that they are so soon trying to make money off their relatively paltry viewership shows they don't have the money to put get this product on display to the masses.

PBA right now is entirely dependent on leveraging a small percentage enthusiastic Pbnation type crowd. And they're not even getting all of those guys, just a fraction!

The question remains, if Pbnation isn't important enough for Coke to come in and spend big money with direct ad buys, why would PBA?

Right now PBA is a great product catering to mostly spoiled paintball players.

The PSP should do what is necessary to have some kind of good webcast that is sustainable. This will fuel the fires of tournament paintball, keep the PSP at the top of the tournament pyramid, but we need to stop chasing those elusive corporate sponsorships (unless PBA as is has already got their attention and deals are in the works)

Anonymous said...

And I agree with you remarks. I think the problem with in the couple games I watched is they never had the action. Matty would talk about one thing, the camera is filming one thing, and then the game gets blown open and someone is running in a flag.

It was very rare for them to anticipate and catch the action.

The next problem is, I like closeups. Maybe no one else does and I'm an anomaly. But I want to see the guy shooting his gun, I want to see paint coming out of his barrel, I want to see his cool flashy gear. And the webcast wants to have little chess pieces on a board most of the time.

It's not very exhilrating to watch because it's not action packed. I'd suggest this fix is the easiest. Every 15 seconds, give us a 4 second closeup.

Anonymous said...

Why in the world would you want a close up? That has to be the most silly logic I have ever read.

They show them like chess pieces because it's essentially a game of chess. You need to see all the players in order to get the big picture. You can't understand how the game is going to go down if you can't see all the variables in play.

Other sports are different, they have the focal point. Paintball does not, and it's incredibly difficult to follow because of that. Perhaps everyone just needs to accept that the current format is not TV friendly. Major adjustments need to be made in order to see large numbers on the webcast.

Anonymous said...


I think the most recent webcast is probably the best paintball I've ever seen, that said it's also worse than pretty much any other sport I've ever seen presented on TV. Right now it's falling in an awkward place where it doesn't offer enough enough by way of basic explanation for the casual observer (whether this is necessary is debatable) but also gives very little in the way of a technical breakdown that might appeal to the more knowledgeable viewer opting instead for the discussion of intangibles that you outlined above.

Some suggestions:

1)I'd love to seen an analysis of the breakouts being employed between games (similar to what we see on this blog minus the pointless internecine nonsense and bloviating).

2)I think you could solve some of the problem capturing the full "action" but using the full field views more often and employing replay after the point to highlight an up close view of the action.

3)In order to have a full explanation of penalties and other rules they need to be full defined and applied consistently (when exactly did we decide to only sometimes wipe off a player who has been eliminating by someone playing on?). Furthermore the people in the broadcasting booth need to not only know the rules but be willing to point to a questionable call (not to attack the refs but at least to acknowledge it).

4)Finally, more exciting games (and this event had its share) are more exciting. I love the new field layout in terms of discouraging "lockdown" play but if we really want to encourage players to make big moves (especially in the snake) the clear choice is to eliminate sideline coaching altogether. The PSP has a lot of good ideas but this was not one of them especially if one of the goals is to create viewership; the more tactically minded among us might really enjoy the surefire sacrifice play to clear the snake but suspense captures the average viewer. As an added bonus players are less likely to hide in their bunkers if there's no coach watching the run through, that means more engaged gunfights which means faster, more exciting games.

Overall I like the improved product this year. He maybe a possum-eating redneck at hear,t but Lane is smarter and more competent that pretty much any of the would-be paintball "thought leaders" in the game. He deserves some credit but I think he'd freely admit that things still need work.

Anonymous said...

5 out of 20 seconds of close ups does not remove the game of chess you loon. 80% "field view", 20% closeup. Derder and MWAG films were exciting because they had closeups.

Adding in some more helps. It's not like anyone said they need to use a star wipe for every transition, but then again, why have hamburger when...

Reiner Schafer said...

Closeups help the viewer associate him/herself with the players. Without stars and heroes, there is much less likelihood of creating fans.

And I agree that there is major marketing needed to get this product out to the masses. But that still doesn't ensure that the masses will stay tuned in.

Old-in-402 said...

Thanks for the feed back everyone. I was a little worried about people taking to the PBA's defense simply because it's the only game in town. I think the constructive criticism and honesty are a greater indication of loyalty than mere defense for defense's sake.

I personally like the idea of close-ups for a couple reasons. First, they will help justify team sponsorship by getting those logos out to the masses, and thus each team will be exponentially more marketable. Secondly, the announcers may have an easier job of identifying the player and critiquing there sloppiness as well as having the player relate to that critique. Lastly, it's cool to see people get hit.

I love the idea of eliminating coaching. Having spent the majority of my tournament days playing straight up, non X-ball, 5-man I thought coaching kind of ruined the game. At the time crowd coaching seemed to be the a big problem, but in retrospect I think it's effectiveness was given too much credit. If the PSP wants to have crowds then have them, with all their benefits and drawbacks. Fact of the matter is that a crowd is just as likely to be effective in coaching as is crowd counter-coaching, so give each side an equal voice. Don't allow a coach to have closer, more immediate access to the player than anyone else.

Let's keep generating some more ideas and opinions.

Anonymous said...

“Six days does not a week make”…

In the same regard, one channel does not a network make.

Before I go on Your Favorite Anon’s Wild Ride, I’d just like to point out something—

Paintball industry hasn’t changed its single-minded attitude in more than 15 years- Everybody wants to rule the world, making it smaller and smaller only masks the illusion of some adolescent power.

Big dreams with small plans, the plans have changed but the dream hasn’t, that’s what makes it a fantasy. The same small handful of people grope and coerce their meaning towards this game over years finding no resolution or prevalent example. It’s easy to change the narration in public when no criticism is acknowledged in private. Be that as it may, I feel sorry for those involved, committed to a belief in an all too enveloping and flooded media market. The New American Extremist plays paintball and perhaps he has been bred for worse things.

The majority rejects tournament paintball not because of aesthetics, but moreover, the atomization of what was once a 3 three hour battle with friends in your local woods. A single point can be shaved down to less than 100 running feet under minutes compared to acreage over hours (shooting less ammo). A single case could last you months.

More importantly, people do not describe paintball as a fixed field positioning with tournament event structure. The example in their minds is directly (and commonly singular) to the aforementioned.

Who has benefitted? Not the players, because the companies hardly reward such buying power outside of “sponsorship” (which would usually mean, had this definition not been distinguished as something else, that an individual is valuable among a society of consumerism).

Anonymous said...

You can’t buy fame… PBA (DYE) only holds the carrot off a PSP stick, and anyone who wasn’t committed before, surely holds their reservations now until such a program demonstrates measureable success (or can at least publically admit to such a feat).

This falls on DYE’s shoulders and I would like to see a solution to the monolith’s power.

Privatization in rectifying individual success, compelling as it may be, to pay for services of this kind, does not bode well in this instance for a team sport with lacking identity, invisible standing or recognition (even among the most hardcore of fans). Inventing an offshoot system did not help, it made things much worse providing for vaccuum style "reporting" any five year old would see as self-serving.

Basely, we are discussing the same topics that made so many others quit.

Space guns, constant air and material improvements are nice, but they don’t answer or quantify any sort of question.

Why play paintball?

I see the PBA as a very expensive and undermined operation that seeks at evenly constructing latitude in this effort for which consumers to congregate, if not wholly congeal into presence (heh). We can understand why the people behind the PSP want to do well, but how they do so remains a stagnant comfort-ability among ultra-Nationalists.

It has the wrong people with the wrong paintball platform under the wrong tournament conditions.

Then again, paintball is full of rejectionists, so I am not so surprised (little would at this point), if only a little annoyed, that the realities of violence are so misshapen under neon-signs and water balloon tactics. One will not gain respect in this world playing a game of pretend, so to sell this promise is simply false advertising in my eyes, the keen self-repression of most long-time narrations only makes me think these folks feel themselves truly among the oppressed (lol…). Why else would they act so fruitlessly and childish?

The alternative to this is nothing less than a "Rollerball"/HALO/Battlefield 4 on the track of a Mario Kart with HUD, moving surrogate enemies and storylines applicable to the conditions of local field owners- oh, let’s get Virtue to record the whole thing, have those targets report back information and sell this again to the consumer. For as creative as they claim, I see very little imagination at the PBA camp.

The glass ceiling continues.

The self-producing, self-consuming behemoth of the PBA/PSP has gained little notoriety from the general public. Maybe that’s all it takes to prove the point? We were offered something else that was the same. The purchasers were rewarded and only others by proxy.

Let’s Hit F5.

Bruce said...

PBA is simply a niche product with questionable value outside of the fanboy. I love it, but it's obvious I am not in the majority. I'm also the jerk who would sit down at night and watch old Traumahead videos.

Some of the issues I see:

1. Only sport where you really can't see the ball. HD has helped, but I still cannot see the streams of paint even when I know that there is a lane being controlled.

1a. Not enough shots of paint flying through the air - shots directly behind players so you can see gun-fights and get a better understanding of why players are stuck on their knees for a majority of the play. Shots behind the boxes so you can see the lanes of pain off-the-break. I just don't understand the placement of almost every camera they have. The field is known, the typical shooting lanes should always have a camera on them. Figure out a way to automatically clear paint from the lens if that's the primary issue here.

2. Not enough communication between the refs, the camera-men and the guys in the box. They have gotten better, granted, but it's not really close to being professional in the programming aspect. Keep working on it though, please.

2a. The guys in the box need someone who is more technical. All of the guys in the box right now are basically color commentators. There is no real play-by-play. Ask yourself this - if you were blind could you tell what was going on?

2b. Matty Marshal is fine, but tends to reuse cliches far too often. I can sense he is trying to move away from this, but there is only so much space to fill up and paintball has a TON of down-time that isn't really being filled properly yet.

2c. Chris Lasoya makes me cringe at times. I'd rather see him replaced by someone a bit more technical and less douchey. Davey Williamson did great in the past and I appreciated his analysis.

2d. Todd can do whatever he wants. He's such a good character for this sport and having direct coaching experience (successful at that) certainly helps.

TL;DR - Better camera footage, play-by-play and technical guy in the box.

Anonymous said...

I agree Bruce, as well with a lot of the other posts I see here, both for and against, for different reasons.

I honestly think the people we've hired are simply out of ideas. I like to go "blind" into these discussions, but I can see many traces...--YFA

Anonymous said...

During the PSP Dallas webcast they talked about the field being so fast and trying to make the games faster.

Would it be helpful to lower the ROF to 10.5 like the millennium? I think it would increase the speed of play.

Less bunkers? It might make things easier to understand for the average person and the field won't seem crowded.

I like RT7 but maybe an entirely new format? Something with a rotation of players so there is constant action.

I agree with most of the above comments about improving the webcast. Personally, I think PBA has done a great so far and it's better than anything we have seen.

I would like to see better camera angles to better understand the action. I enjoyed the breakout cameras for both teams though.

Anonymous said...

The role of Xball was to shoot paint—a lot of it. Slowing it down causes problems of its own design. The PSP is built on speed. They could never survive without it- it’s the reason they hold events, they are the vehicle for their representatives.

They can't afford to change that now.

Anonymous said...

We should get one thing straight.

This is the internet. If you're bragging about 10k or even 40k people on your website to the outside world you're doing something wrong.

1 million people play Diablo a day. 1 million people get Rick rolled a day. 1 million people watch Antoin Dobson a day.

PBA can't compete with that. It's forcing an outdated model (big budget, long network show, serious) into a new format (short clips, funny, self-deprecating).

Maybe this is what happens when you have dinosaurs involved. Maybe this is what happens when you cling to the dream for too long.

I'm not insulting the webcast because I think it's GREAT for paintball players. But if PBA was making a webcast for paintball players I think they would have started with a lower budget.

The money they appear to be spending makes it seem like it's hoping for mass appeal.

If they want mass appeal, they need shorter clips, bloopers, failures, jack ass, etc. etc.

Don't get mad at me for telling the truth. I'm not saying jack ass is the ideal. But people aren't going to sit down and watch an hour or two of serious commentary paintball unless their pretty dedicated paintball players.

100 million people on the internet will watch a brief summary of a game followed by some dude running around getting shot at without his pants on.

Or at least, there stands a better chance of the latter than the former.

Anonymous said...

Tie the PBA into the PSP (financially) so they stop trying to pretend they are a separate entity.

Until I get broadcasts for the NPPL, NCPA and perhaps CXBL, 5 events isn't going to have enough coverage to grow.

If the PBA wants to exist outside of the PSP, it should really look into working at the other venues somehow. This would be the best thing to happen to paintball, ever.

Anonymous said...

I had a thought earlier while on the bball court--

They say sports celebrates violence. Perhaps our violence celebrates sport.