Sunday, November 3, 2013

Ruminations on Paintball & Media, part 2

Hang on, I almost forgot video, the majority of which features wretched music and short snippets of discontinuous action edited together seemingly without rhyme or reason. I am assured  that such scattershot video does, now and again, grab the imagination sufficiently to get some people to try paintball. Yo-kay.
Btw, in case you missed it--and how is that even possible?--there was a part 1 and this is the second post in a two post series. Go back and read the first one for the full flavor.
Fortunately there is one other sort of video that is gaining both attention and new practitioners. Pioneered by Pat Spohrer with 'Push' (more than a decade ago) it's paintball as narrative. It tells a story and puts all the action, excitement, personalities, joys and sorrows into context. And the story is what makes all the diverse elements of the game accessible to those who have not played it before. And it's the story that connects with the similar stories of those who already play, a recognition that we share more than the game in common. More recently Dan Napoli and Brad Maugham have been creating small gems like the 'Artifact' series and the latest season of 'The Roster' in their telling of the stories of paintball, both unique and universal. Lately the Derder crew have begun producing documentaries featuring some of the most well known teams in the sport. While made for an audience of ballers these stories of paintball also offer a portal into the world of paintball for those on the outside looking in.
But the same claim applies to one degree or another to any and every form of media. The real issue is effectiveness and outreach. What percentage of people who see a gallery of still photos will be moved to play? And how is that gallery of images put in front of an audience? Or a YouTube video or a show on SKY 3000 TV for that matter.
Which leaves us with the webcast(s), diverse online entities that focus on paintball (like this blog or Social Paintball or PBN) and social media. Is the webcast really a vehicle aimed at outreach? I don't think so--even if it happens to serve that function now and again. It's really about providing high level competitive paintball access to a niche target audience. Can its very existence build that audience? I think it can but to what degree and for how long or at what cost are relevant questions. Then there's paintball on the web. Undoubtedly new peeps discover or rediscover paintball daily via the web but it is a passive activity and relies on a searcher to make progress. Even so, there has to be something there to find. Otherwise most web based paintball sites are really targeting the existing player base. But maybe social media is different. (It's not.) You may have "friends" all around the world but if you're serious about your paintball odds are most of those friends are too. And your *real* friends and family are all perfectly well aware of your paintball obsession without the aid of Facebook and if they were ever going to play they would have already. I'm not saying nobody ever finds paintball on social media but I am saying social media is less social than you might think and is more like inclusive circles of friends that in places overlap and where they do it's because of primary shared interests, like paintball, so that in the end it's mostly preaching to the choir.

The way to make media work for paintball goes something like this; solicit Justin Bieber's agent and find out what it would take to get the Bieb to start tweeting about how much he loves to play paintball whenever he's not on the road and make sure the next issue of Celebrity Trash has photos of Justin sporting the latest gear and gun from [fill in the blank.] Whose playing paintball now?


Anonymous said...

In regards to the last paragraph... BINGO!

I've carried this exact thought around for a long although the celeb to be recruited has changed every couple years. Scout a young male celebrity with international who is athletic and has almost unlimited access to media outlets. Get them interested and (most importantly) devoted to paintball. Then use his access to producers, movie directors, etc. to make a relatively low budget film (20 million or less) featuring as many aspects of paintball that you can pack into 90 minutes. You get a high quality director that is accustomed to working with small budgets and tight schedules and aim for an early spring release. You cut Mr. Celeb a backend deal that entitles him to a portion of revenues from box office and dvd sales because you won't be able to secure enough financing to pay for the movie and a Bieber or Jonas.

It would be tough and require everybody involved to be a bit selfless but if it could be pulled off it would definitely have an effect in a positive direction.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for missing words a d mispellings. Had to post that from my phone.

Grant H. said...

Didn't I put forward the idea already that the PSP should put on a celebrity/charity half-time game to broaden to get more mainstream media attention.


Can you never mention Bieber and paintball in the same sentence ever again or I just may puke!!!!

Baca Loco said...

And once upon a time the NPPL did something like that at HB (IIRC) They weren't A-listers and I don't recall what sort of local media attention it garnered though there were years at teh HB location that the newspapers and TV channels showed up.

About you know who--trust me, it won't happen again.

Missy Q said...

Beiber dropped 11 grand in my customers store in Stratford, Ontario to gear himself and all his little chulo-friends up for a game.
True story that no-one knows about! lol. I even have a picture of him in the store, but as it was taken without his knowledge (via security camera) it can't be used, and he declined to have organised pics taken in the store.

On the other hand, contrary to the experience I have typically had with LA-based celebs, he paid full money and didn't ask for a discount 'because I'm famous', which I appreciate.

On the same day, Micheal Buble bought paintball gear in another Canadian store. He also declined to have a pic taken. No-one really cared about that though...

Anonymous said...

I agree with the Bieber thing. We should sponsor him and his twitter feed. What this industry really needs is a massive influx of 12yr old girls.
Email Eclipse and have them do a Bieber Ego (Biego?). Watch them sell like hot cakes...
Genius! said...

For your closing remark on getting celebrities to be spotting playing paintball. It already has been done (at least in Canada) example being where musician Drake has been out to play multiple times and even had a big VS game against Kevin Hart. The issue is their agents will only do it once or twice as having it be a repeat thing seems like a huge waste of their clients time. If the paintball industry starts to pour cash into paying celebrities to come out to play paintball just for a few media hits, Tweets or photos on Instagram I certainly will stop promoting said companies/products because at least even with "sponsoring" players/teams or poster girls is keeping the money within the system and going back into the industries pockets instead of just leeching it to already over paid people who actually have no real interest or investment in the sport. I would compare it to saying why don't we have the industry dump thousands of dollars into having big name sports coaches step into run the coaching of all your major Pro sponsored teams? Sure it would draw a bit of attention but once the initial buzz is gone it will not change the major core issues of why people are not entering the sport like they were in the early 2000's. Going after the fly by night, get Mommy & Daddy to pay for paintball is only of the reasons why the industry is currently at a lull. Why keep on dumping money into a model which honestly doesn't even support your business in the long run? said...

Here is the link to the video which obviously I doubt anyone who is apart of the closed circle of paintball has seen nor cared about. It also shows a huge hole where a store location could have made huge sales like other comments had mentioned but instead it was a general sports store that was shown and obviously the bulk of the money spent went to.

Also noticed that there was a typo in the closing part of the first comment

"pay for paintball is only *one* of the reasons why the industry is currently at a lull."

Baca Loco said...

Kevin who and Drake what?

What was paintball doing during the growth period that it isn't doing now? If the formula for success existed once how was it lost or forgotten?

Reiner Schafer said...

“What was paintball doing during the growth period that it isn't doing now?”

Have you ever noticed what happens when a new bar or nightclub opens up in town. It’s all the rage and everyone flocks to it. It’s standing room only. People wait outside the door for an opportunity to get in. Two years later, nobody is waiting outside. Five years down the road, half the seats are empty. Ten years later, it’s no longer there, replaced by something else.

Maybe paintball had its glory days of discovery and now it’s just the stragglers still hanging on. It may be a “Been there, done that, gone onto something else” scenario. Couple that with the high cost to take part and no chance of real stardom like there is with other may just be that simple.

And just like the failing bars, once the crowds thin out, it’s just more reason to stay away and find a new one. Who wants to follow a downward trend? That would be like playing in the NPPL last year.

Baca Loco said...

It's not that simple but there is something to be said for discovery factor--paintball generally isn't new anymore--but the topic is paintball & media. ;) said...

Haa Paul, if your going to use a Canadian Pop icon as the Holy Grail of media marketing for paintball then you should know about the other Canuck Pop icons as well.

Its true no one cares about Drake or Beiber or any other little fly by night Pop sensations aside from the kids who the marketing machine grabs a hold of. The same crowd which the industry has been trying to court with the drop lots of money and move on in 1-2 years if they even last that long.

I think the formula was that they were spending a lot more money to prop up the sport (be it maybe it was still all just smoke and mirrors) and maybe the money still went down the gutter it still got players to attend events. Increase foot traffic for events and sales at the vendors area to then create a trickle down for local paintball.

Now with a broadcast that is directed towards a very niche market the client base now do not even have to get off of their asses to watch the highest level of play out there. This isn't like the NFL, NBA, NHL or any other highly profitable sports that are broadcasted into everyones homes because even if it is deemed free to watch the more professional sports support base still goes out and buy team merchandise, tickets for their games and wave the flag for their hometown or favorite team all at the same time to having outside of the sport advertisers covering the bulk of broadcast operating costs from that revenue stream.

Some additional stats regarding broadcasting which if there ever could be some large media organization to jump at the overall rights to broadcast the sport of paintball I would assume it would have to be sold at a very low rate which the industry would have to take as a way to increaseing the viewership of the sport. Not a direct return on their investment via league, teams, players etc.

"In early 1998, American broadcasters agreed to pay $18 billion for the rights
to the National Football League for 8 years. The previous deal, for 1995–1998,was for $1.58 billion." Cited from Economics Of Sport & Recreation printed in 2000.

The fly by night client base will probably still spend their $60 a month to play once and dream of being as glorious as whatever player/team just recently won a title (would use X-Factor but perhaps that might be hitting to close to home for you) unlike them actually attending the events or at least coming to the largest gathering of the season being World Cup.

Catering to a clientele that do not actually support the league(s) who have both the industry dumping capital into so they can be the core flagship of the marketing for the sport and all of the superstars player base who honestly are not making much in return for their time and effort away from their regular lives. It will only burn out any player who can preform at the highest level because the return on their investment just isn't there anymore.

Unlike most major professional sports you can actual attain a jersey from your favorite player in paintball, see them walking around and take a photo with them but now seeing that some players are asking $250 for a single jersey it obviously shows that the players themselves are not being supported as it was like back in the day when players were honored to give away their jerseys to people who helped them out for free instead of having to ensure that they had enough money to get by between events.

Should there be a set salary for paintball players (maybe?), was the fantasy paintball pool a way to see how the viewers of the sport value each player and how they should be properly compensated (perhaps?) but will the direction of the sport ever get to that level that the players can live off or playing (most likely not)?

As usual appreciate the back & forth and obviously the thoughts of how media should be used to gain a larger market share of the recreation/sports industry but certainly isn't something that will be solved within an off season.

Baca Loco said...
Canadian you say? Who know. I just thought he was another marginal talent pop icon.

I think your characterization of recent national tournament history is way off but we can debate that another time. :)

Nothing is "free" anymore and you're way off on the revenue end of pro football and its relationship to TV. TV contracts are the lion's share of football's revenues these days for most of the teams and TV offers the deals they do because they have a history of making money on football telecasts.
As it relates to the webcast the PBA is working at building a sufficient audience to attract outside of paintball marketing and industries interested in niche marketing and tourney ball's demographic.

A set salary? Only if you want to kill pro paintball.
Was fantasy pb a test of some sort? Nope but it was an attempt to find another avenue to develop and build interest in paintball as sport and create an ongoing conversation--to borrow a phrase. :)
Players living off playing? Sure, why not?