Monday, November 10, 2014

What happens when the Champions sit down with RedBull?'

It seems amazing to many involved in the competitive game that a company like RedBull puts (relatively) enormous sums of money into events like airplane racing and an appropriated and manufactured contest like Flugtag but (so far) have completely ignored paintball. (Of course both those events are brand builders and don't even require attendance to do their job.) But even so, why not paintball?
What happens when the Champions sit down with RedBull? What pitch can the Champions make that will make RedBull sit up and take notice? We're the best competitive paintball teams in the world. And? We represent a highly desirable demographic. How much of that demographic? (According to industry analysis not even the majority of paintball players.) See where this is going? It doesn't require too many pertinent questions to discover competitive paintball--even at the highest levels--doesn't, at present, have a whole lot to offer and is really looking for a sugar daddy willing to fund an expansion effort.
So what if the league and the PBA join the Champions and present a united front to RedBull? Sure, but how is this fundamentally different than the Champs alone? It's just more mouths to feed and what is gained? Remember, you need to be considering this from RedBull's frame of reference: How does supporting competitive paintball help RedBull--or any other potential supporter or sponsor? Does the league legitimize the Champions or do the Champions legitimize the league? And is support for the league support for the status quo--and if so, what does that get any sponsor in either the short or the long term? Now advertising via the PBA might free the PBA up to go back to free access and extend its reach but then the question is does that sponsor/advertiser have other avenues to reach that same prospective audience? At the end of the day there might be some hypothetical value in advertising with PBA but if there is PBA has yet to make it happen. Otherwise what's really on offer is potential.
And that is why there have been all the determined efforts to get competitive paintball on TV. If paintball was on TV and enough people watched then the game would have something to sell. That model has recently been abandoned--due to repeated failures--in favor of the PBA model that has attempted to build an audience that would prove attractive enough to start pulling in some advertising money which in turn could keep the effort going and expanding. And it didn't work within the time frame that PBA resources allowed. So now PBA has resorted to charging the audience in the hope of being able to maintain a continuing webcast and hopefully build a larger paying audience in future--which may or may not eventually attract outside advertiser attention. 
Independent of the effort to sell the game some percentage of competitive players find spectating paintball boring and in presentations like the webcast we have yet to be able to follow the narrative of a game or point in real time in any coherent sort of way--despite the fact the webcast is constantly improving. And if we want to build an audience beyond players, friends and family there needs to be an effort to educate potential fans so they understand what's happening when we have opportunities to present the game to them.
Still hopeful there's a bigger future for "pro" paintball? (Yeah, me too.) Here's what you do. Find a venue like the grandstand arena at the OC Fairgrounds and organize a one off event. Call it a Champions Invitational. Take 5 of the top pro teams and devise some half day format. A round robin prelim perhaps going directly to a final. Whatever. Start promoting at least six months in advance. Put a winner take all prize on the table. The object is to sell tickets to the grandstand seating and access to the livestream for a worldwide audience. If it makes a profit for the promoter it might prove to be another avenue for developing a true pro game. Maybe. 


Anonymous said...

Can't see red bull getting into paintball unless we solve the focal point issue, at the very least. That'd be non negotiable for them.

I doubt they'd be able to work with our incumbent leagues due to the sheer number of changes they'd require. The whole thing would need to be spectator focused as top priority. Paintball as it stands is primarily player focused.

Anonymous said...

Concerning the webcast start with on screen talent. Matty is perfect as the play by play guy.Now they need a consistent color/stats guy. Yes we know you used to mow fools. Thats great but it does not help educate and inform the very people they are trying to attract,those outside the game.During game breaks diagram out how teams could play a specific point or prop. The normal fanboys will poo poo it.But we already have them as paid participants.And the woman that does the in pit reports seems to really try to come up with great(good)questions.

Anonymous said...

A better webcast is probably the last thing we need. It's freaking awesome, in spite of it's many issues we could all improve on. Unfortunately at this point it looks like we need someone who is looking for something the PSP/Pba can offer.

What can Pba offer a sponsor they can't buy elsewhere for pennies on the dollar. No one is going to spends big money because pb as commentary got even better.

Bruce Anderson said...

Agree with Anon @2:36 - until this game is spectator friendly it will never get past the elevator pitch.

Larry said...

I seem to remember someone saying redbull wont even consider paintball due to the shooting nature of the game. I could be wrong.

For PBA and Co. to ever work, fan bases have to be grown. And I dont mean the type of fans that post on their favorite team's message boards on PBN, or Like them on facebook. Product, and the team's image needs to be sold, somehow. But, that's a completely different post and topic.

On PBA and Co - The entire enterprise is a sham, only geared toward getting fantasy paintball to work. PBA should be about the professionalization of the sport, geared around the teams first, followed by the players. The Teams are nothing without the individuals, but the players are nothing without the support and branding of the team. My proof comes in the fact that PBA keeps individual game statistics, but does not publish them. Why? Because they realized early on that other sources can use those numbers to create content.

The problem with holding this information: it inhibits fans from having legitimate conversation about teams and players. Nobody wants to talk about "G rating" overall, or after an event - people want to know how many players someone eliminated each game. By providing both the averages, and the individual "box scores" it opens a completely new way to talk about paintball...For instance, "Lebron shoots 20 points a game average, but hit 40 in game 7 of the NBA finals." That tells you a ton about the player, gives drama to their performance and entices you to watch again. In a paintball way: "Chad George had 2 eliminations from the snake position against team xyz last game, but had an amazing game getting 13 in the rematch."

I could go on, but I'm convinced if PBA wants to grow the sport, it is imperative they release game-by-game individual and team statistics. Fantasy paintball will only hold interest for so long, and will not return a profit until people enjoy watching the games, and can analyze them in more depth.

Anonymous said...

I always assumed that PBA doesn't release game by game stats because:
- it's time consuming to build and more importantly maintain a website that goes that "deep" in terms of content (and looks good)
- it opens up their data to closer inspection... "wait a minute... that doesn't make sense, I didn't shoot anyone that game" or "he wasn't even playing that game", etc.

Aggregate data is virtually impossible to falsify.

Vijil said...

Random note -

Red Bull almost never work with existing leagues or organisations in any sport (beyond sponsored athletes). Instead they tend to finance and start their own version from scratch, normally rebuilding the product from the ground up. The Red Bull Air Race is completely unlike traditional air racing - and it's highly likely that and Red Bull Paintball competition would be almost unrecognisable to modern paintballers. They would not work with the PSP without full control over the product.

If they'd do it at all, I suspect that most old school ballers and folks who've been around a while would hate what they came up with. Chances are it would involve touchdown lines, balls that get thrown around, a little parkour thrown in, or some combination of the above. I don't know, but it certainly wouldn't look at all like what we have because what we have is *boring*.

In short, Red Bull sports need to be instantly gripping and accessible to new watchers. Right now paintball is anything but.

Larry said...

Anon - but they do. Professional teams get print offs after each match of player performance. Or at least they did.

Baca Loco said...

Guys (and girls)
RedBull was simply a handy ubiquitous stand-in. It could have been Budweiser or Ford and not altered anything about the post. Don't get distracted.

That's a very interesting take on the stats. (And, yes, for those who don't know PBA can organize and print out game stats virtually in real time--but they no longer do it routinely. Early on I was offered or given match stats all the time.)
I wouldn't go as far as calling the whole thing a sham--cus I don't think it is--but reevaluating how they present stats and the impact such changes might have is absolutely worthwhile.
It also goes to the heart of how Paintball presents itself to the public. PBA has, intentionally or not, chosen the NBA method of star making while the NFL focuses on teams and lets the stars make themselves. Personally I favor the NFL method but competitive paintball has little to no continuity to build on.

Vijil said...

Fair enough baca. That said I tend to think that the red bull model of stepping in and completely reworking everything would actually be the best option for paintball.

Baca Loco said...

Why? Is the only goal creating some measure of public interest?

Vijil said...

That's the primary goal for any large sponsor that sits down with us, though they'd probably call it "mass appeal". They need good brand exposure. The tournament player base is not big enough an audience for these companies.

Nor, I would argue, is it close enough that a few tweaks to how it's filmed, big showy events, or how stats are presented will do the job. Professional paintball needs to be fundamentally rethought if we want to shoot for major sponsorship. We simply do not have a compelling product for these guys. You can't polish a turd.

Baca Loco said...

I failed to be clear. I understand the interest of the sponsor, what I questioned was your claim it would be best for paintball too if someone like RedBull "reworked everything."

Anonymous said...

Actually, I don't know how much mass interest there has to be. Sometimes brands just want to associate themselves with something intense. I suppose you could say they hope whatever intense thing they sponsor captures peoples imaginations.

Paintball is perfect in that regard. It doesn't have thousands of followers, but I could see some kinds of extreme action being used to associate imagery on a mass level. If that's the case, what paintball would need is not better commentary (because the masses won't watch it) but more crazy insane epic run throughs with lots of paint streaming and splattering everywhere.

Stuff like that could appeal more to the masses who like 30second clips.

Vijil said...

Ah - I suppose now we're getting into subjective territory. I tend to think that a more watchable format will also tend to be more fun if designed well. That's mostly just a hunch since very few of us have played many alternative formats. I know that our experiments here in nz with touchdown lines etc have been great fun.

A format with more watching appeal will attract more money, which leads to better products and more players and so on.

Again though it's subjective - many folks seem perfectly happy with paintball being small and that's fair enough. Personally I'm in an area where it's hard to find regular players so a bigger game worldwide would help!