Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Post Dallas Wrap-up

Or should that be the Dallas Wrap-up Post or the Wrap-up Dallas Post? Call it what you will this is where VFTD ties together all the odds and ends into a neat bow with a summary (including highlights!) of the event.
Let's begin with the very short list of not-quite-problems so let's call them "concerns." The Return to 150' along with the added oomph of 4 additional props was supposed to solve Slow Game Syndrome--and to an extent it did but certainly not to the degree the shorter field alone (and past stats associated with the shorter field) would have indicated. For example the pros went to time in around 25% of their prelim matches. Worse the D1 kids clocked in at 34% to time in their prelims with D2 down around 22% to time in their preliminary matches. Overall that's down a little but not much. Now one event doesn't make a trend but if we get something similar at MAO it's a problem. Two related issue remain; the "technical snake" which continues to dictate design characteristics on one half of the layouts and the PSP's track record in deciding which available layout to use for an event. (What I'm trying to say in a delicate sorta way is the league ain't got anybody who can accurately assess how a layout will play prior to playing it so the decision becomes a crapshoot.) The other, more pressing, concern is reffing--and in particular all the red flags during the weekend and the causes that precipitated the rain of red. As a practical matter the league is getting a new pro crew up to speed for the new Challengers' field and essentially doubling the number of pro refs. It's a process so a few hiccups along the way are to be expected. However the critical danger here is that instead of building the new guys up into solid pro refs everybody ends up a notch or two lower than they started. It is incumbent on Tom and Leon to focus their efforts on maintaining, even improving, the standard. And I thought the propensity for tossing majors this past weekend was a clear indication of flag-happiness not cheaty players. Admittedly it can be a fine line but first and foremost the goal must be to let the competing teams battle it out with as little official interference as possible while keeping the game fair. ("Fair" is however a tricky word.)
Moving on to the pro matches, the webcast and the immediate future of Champs & Challengers. After touting Thursday play in advance here in VFTD I was a little disappointed but overall there were some outstanding and exciting matches played, particularly on Sunday--and it's only going to get better. What I saw of the webcast was first rate (as usual) and with the extra day and new faces should have generated lots of interest and a growing audience. (I hope we hear some numbers at some point.)
What about instant replay? On the ground at the end of the Infamous-Dynasty semi it looked to the naked eye, my naked eye anyway, that the flag reached the penalty box netting after the clock hit zero but just a fraction before the buzzer sounded. After watching the replay I think the buzzer may have sounded before there was any contact but it was so close reasonable people could argue over what they just saw in good conscience. Could the league address those rare situations with instant replay? Should they?
With the move to Champs & Challengers I had initially thought it likely we'd see mostly the same teams and names going up and down with some modest variations. I no longer think that. Depending on the bracket one bad match, one call at a critical juncture could cost a team a match and one untimely or unexpected loss will leave teams fighting to avoid relegation. Even in stacked brackets somebody has to lose. And they will. Each event only four teams will move to Sunday and four will struggle to stay in the Champs bracket. And there will be some surprises. Count on it.
Like last year if anyone who participated in the event, in any capacity, would like to try their hand at covering a division of play VFTD would be happy to give blog space over to that effort. I don't see much divisional paintball but would like to be able to promote the up-and-comers in a small way so if you want to give it a try, hit me up using the email link on the sidebar. VFTD reserves the right to function as editor (for space, clarity, tone, etc.) but beyond that you're on your own.
If you missed it in Dallas the next time the PSP offers Open 10-man make you sure you check out the rosters and catch some of the action. This time around there were 4 teams including Femmes Fatale and a way past their prime roster of former superstars, Tour de Force, that included Todd Adamson, Billy Ceranski, Rocky Cagnoni, Manny Francia and others. They lost their first game of the day to the girls when the refs reportedly pulled three wiping penalties. (Ah, the memories.) They won the rest of their prelims to make the finals only to lose to Redneck Central, er, PPS SFO. (It was another throw together field with inflatables on a hyperball layout intended for rec players. Seems to me if the PSP is serious about a modest but consistent following in 10-man they need to offer the real deal all the way 'round. But maybe that's just me.)
The venue, Cousins Paintball, outside Mesquite, Texas was isolated but satisfactory with plenty of room to accommodate the 7 plus fields, row of vendors and parking for everyone. The weather was exceptionally nice if a bit windy early on. And with a 160 plus teams for a season opener it's hard to imagine that the Dallas Open was anything but a solid success and an excellent lead into the rest of the 2013 season.

Later in the week I'll take a look at the Dallas layout and talk some about the keys to playing the field and where and how points had a tendency to slow down when they did. If you have any specific questions drop them in the old mailbag--email addy on the sidebar--and I'll be happy to answer the good ones.


Anonymous said...

Whatever anyone says about PBA stats, here is a better measure:


10k uniques during events, 5k during the off season.

Unfortunately, it's a lagging indicator as we don't get an update for March for a few weeks.

But PBA is not half the powerhouse of PBN or even Ansgear (who incidentally advertizes on PBA to get some of their meager traffic)

PBN shows around 75k uniques (but steadily declining...sinking ship alert)

ANS shows between 75k to 100k uniques

SocialPaintball gets 3k-4k uniques.

Maybe all these numbers are bogus, but together you can get a pretty good comparison as to the relative size and influence of PBA.

No matter what they might say about the traffic of PBA, it's still a small fish in a small pond.

raehl said...

The scoreboard doesn't currently display tenths/hundredths of a second. So when the horn sounds to start the match, the clock immediately flips to 19:59 and stays there for a second. Thus when it flips to 0:00, there's still a second left. I believe for MAO the software will get tweaked so that the board shifts the time to display tenths or hundredths of a second so that's more obvious to the casual observer.

The numbers cited above are bogus. Not even close, at least according to Google Analytics. Although the final numers are not in yet, the Dallas webcast saw a significant viewership increase over the Cup webcast.

Anonymous said...

Okay - I'm curious now.

What's the ballpark figure on the webcast viewership?

Anonymous said...

statshow.com lol... that you chuck?

Neal said...

thanks Baca. Good report, only wish you had some divisional reporters like Mike of Pr1me used to do. I had a great time watching the event and one thing I will say having practiced the field for WCPPL is that I really think back center bunkers should be a thing of the past. Really turns the paradigm on it's head. Saw a few teams beat teams they usually lose to as a result.

Fullbore said...

Webcast commentary was much improved, it appeared someone had told them to be more professional and indulge less in in-jokes. Todd is a worthwhile full-time addition to the crew, the third-wheel though could be seen to be wanting to interrupt all the time, when he did get airtime he often had to be corrected. Lauren on the sideline needs an earpiece, the amount of corpsing ofer team/players names etc. was hilarious, it may be the theme for the next webcast drinking game as the use of such trigger words as 'clutch' was noticeably reduced, which was good for my sobriety.

It was hard to say if the penalties were overly harsh, they certainly added something to the viewing experience which could have been capitalised on more by the webcast, a camera on the penalty box curtain could be fun, though the ability in many points of the player to leave the box and rejoin the game rather than get blasted on exit was welcomed. it makes it more of a penalty rather than a death row box.

Again, the champions/challengers format, with the promotion and relegation element adds more excitement to the experience and should keep the webcast games more evenly matched, as the lame duck teams will be relegated and the teams in the Championship should be broadly of a similar level.

As for video reffing, no, if you introduce it on the Championship field the refereeing looses validation and the rest of the divisions will start to want it too, if they think the replay would go their way.

Of all the webcasts, this was the most engaging and kept my attention the longest.

Anonymous said...

Whether PBA is in first place or last place among the small pond, it does not matter.

This Nation is not interested in playing paintball, playing less of it every day. For those of us interested in making money (among other things like having fun and taking an occasional vacation with friends), these programs are shortcuts to a petty and pathetic succession.

Has PBA changed that? No.

Did it advertise to do so? Yes, incidentally, by flipping the metrics of reality in quite a literal sense, once again to the tune of no less than entertainment.

That's the difference.

Some of us aren't lucid in this pretend world we seem to be so openly sold.

NewPro said...

were you another kept out of the sandbox, maybe you should take your thesauras and go home

Bryan Parks said...

Honestly, PBA and the webcast is the best thing to happen to this sport in previous years. Both at Cup and here for Dallas. I hooked my computer up via HDMI to one of my big screen and held a bbq. I had 20+ people watching it and enjoying it. The crazy part was probably half of the crowd had never played paintball. They can follow, understand, and most importantantly be excited about paintball! I truly think that if PBA continues to refine their product...it will be the spark that ignites a fire in "public" for paintball.

As to using replays. No. A refs call is final. I think in this sport , that faith in refs is an important part of this game working

Anonymous said...

It's well known many remote analytics programs inflat traffic based on previews, script calls, multiple sessions, robots, etc etc.

Alexa, statshow and others are useful measures because they consider a particular site based on the comparative volume of world wide traffic.

As was said, maybe those numbers were bogus at the top, but it's still far less than pbn or ans. I highly doubt there are more than 10-15k people overall, and that's favorable. Look at the meager comment traffic on their posts. Any site with 50k people actually using it would be flooded on comments, at least 100-200 per post.

None of this speaks negatively to the quality of the webcast. But their reach really does seem limited to a relatively small pool of "influential users".

It's great to keep the core excitement in tourney paintball alive. But it's not even close to having the same reach as pbn,mwhich is a shame.

Anonymous said...

You do realize that statshow 1) isn't very accurate and 2) doesn't measure webcast viewership at all, right?

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter what statshow says, just consider the numbers. How many people play paintball? And how small of a fraction of those people actually give 2 shits about tournament paintball? And now on top of that, how many people commit to spending ~4 days at their computer to watch the stream?

Unknown said...

Well for those of us who do like watching this, PBA is a god-send.

I started playing in 2006 and there was basically nothing available at all. I scoured the web for cheap copies of Traumahead Sports and ended up with a fairly sizeable collection.

I wasn't as much about the clip fests that were featured by Derder and others, but the full games showing what lead to the spectacular moves - only Traumahead offered that. HB 2007 being their last event, I was pretty disappointed.

Fast-forward to PBA - we get the ENTIRE tournament now, not just a few choice games here and there. Real-time commenting and analysis along with actual stats.

I don't really care if the sport grows past what it is. Right now, it's as good as it has ever been.

It will never be main-stream, but why would we even want that?

Anonymous said...

The real question about the webcast is, "Is it sustainable in the long term?" If it is, we'll at least have the webcast on an ongoing basis. If it isn't, it'll end and in the meantime you get to enjoy a webcast. That's kind of win-win, isn't it?

In the meantime, the webcast is a legitimate, professional effort that makes paintball look like a more serious sport.

So where's the downside?

Anonymous said...

Downside? Not long after smart parts spent a million bucks on their tv show they went bankrupt. Dye owns the PSP, lets hope history doesn't repeat.

But that's not our business how they spend their money. The webcast is cool, and if is to have any lasting effect it will be to re-claim tournament paintball as the pinnacle of the sport from the scenario upstarts of the last decade. I would bet money on the fact that the webcast increases participation in tournament leagues across the board, Psp, Nppl, regional and otherwise.

NewPro said...

^Great post...I look at it this way, (if) there is an attempt in the works to garner outside monies, are you going to showcase prospective companies a half completed project or wait until your house is in order and then impress them.
I do believe the webcast is ready to launch to the masses...I had 10+ people watching the Dallas event on a 60" living room TV and they had a blast. All comments were of the same variety, "very professional, looks awesome, lets play", etc,etc.

Its still sad to see people who were left out of the decision making process or part of a team, company etc whose own propduct has suffered at the hands of the PSP, bitching about how wrong it is how the PSP is choosing to spend their money.

Baca Loco said...

Anon 919
For the record there is no correlation between the Gardners making their expensive show and what happened to Smart Parts.

For those interested I'm told views was up substantially over World Cup. The first return numbers were impressive. (I'd love to tell y'all but I don't want to steal the PBA thunder if they're planning on making the numbers public themselves. If I can later I will.) While a net good for the PBA, PSP and tourney ball generally and even paintball overall there remains the question of the revenue model and how long can they continue to take losses.
There are fixed approximate costs to each webcast and at this stage the bandwidth required is the single biggest flexible cost so that continued "success" is driving up the cost of production. At some point the revenue model needs to begin working or an alternative will almost certainly have to be considered.

Anonymous said...

For the record, that's poppycock. If you had an extra million in your pocket during a financial downturn its the difference between weathering the storm or abandoning ship.

The casino show didn't put them out of business any more than their giving tons of money to lawyers. But combine all those things with bank loans and a down turn and you're in a perfect position to fail.

Anonymous said...

The webcast which relies on paintball advertisers is doomed to fail. You can't suck more money out of the industry to cover these costs. They need someone else. And the fact of the matter is they are WAY too expensive for big brands. Why advertise coke or Verizon or apple or Pepsi or Nikon etc on the webcast when they can just run network ads on YouTube through Google for a fraction of the cost?

The scary thing is there are dozens of people making 100x as much ad revenue on YouTube for 0.01% of the input costs.

Anonymous said...

Baca, claims of the "first returns" of unique webcast hits is hogwash. Analytics are delivered instantly. Two years ago they claimed over 100,000 views at Cup, which would be impressive if was real.....which it is not.

The only time real provable uniques aren't published is when the numbers suck.

Grant Harrison said...

I for one watched every minute of the webcast and I'm living in Asia. Given the team are still on a huge learning curve in terms of producing the webcast Dallas was a vast improvement.

I can see they are trying to create areas where they can sell advertising space but I'm wondering whether their ad sales team have any experience in real world advertising?

They need to start pitching advertising space to media buying agencies or thinking about what sort of advertisers (other than paintball companies) could best benefit from exposure to I assume a predominate US based male market of 18-30 year olds watching a web cast. I'd target ISP's or mobile phone providers since many of them already budget a lot for online media campaigns.

All those in paintball media know just how hard it is to sell advertising to the mainstream market (or even to the paintball market) so I wish them the best of luck.

Don Saavedra said...

I watched just a tiny bit of the webcast, mostly because I'm bitter about no longer being a part of it. What I saw blew my socks off. Those jerks just keep improving. I hate them. Can't wait for the next one.

Missy Q said...

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.