Friday, January 30, 2015

PGTOW

Acronym humor. Or red pill humor if you know the score. It stands for Pros Go Their Own Way. And, who knows, in some alternate universe reality it could happen. If it did it might work like this.
A dozen pro teams decide enough is enough. Their present course offers no future. Thinking about it they conclude there is a potentially viable tournament alternative to the league they currently compete in. First thing they do is consider the logistics of operating independently. Given their current format or something similar they need one field for three days. And they need referees and perhaps neutral oversight in the interests of fairness. As a group they currently pay around 36K an event in entry fees. That becomes their working capital per event. Let's say they contact some of the better known and larger regional tournament series promoters to see if they have any interest in hosting a pro event in conjunction with one of their regularly scheduled tournaments. They target series that have a permanent facilities base. Someplace like an OXCC or a Cousins Dallas or a Pev's perhaps. The goal isn't to increase costs to the host but to provide the potential for value added. Secondary possibilities might be paintball fields that would fit the tournament criteria required of a pro event. The goal is to use existing permanent field set-ups. Scheduling pro events in conjunction with regional events provides a built in audience, raises the profile of the regional series and helps support tournament paintball where it grows.
Great as far as it goes but it's still all money being spent. There needs to be a way to generate revenue as well since the ultimate goal is to make money and make the "professional" part of pro paintball meaningful--even in a modest way--and potentially sustainable.
On site at each pro event access to the pro field is restricted, bleachers added and tickets sold to watch the pro matches live. Keep the ticket prices low and fill the bleachers. This isn't the principle source of revenue. Choose a media partner with the expertise to set-up and operate a web-accessible live feed of the event closer to what the Millennium are doing than the PSP. It can always be built out if income warrants but in the early stages costs need to be controlled. Using the same or other media partners film additional elements of each match; in the pits, extra on-field angles and shots. The object is to produce post-production individual matches with added content value, behind the scenes, in the heat of battle and player/coaches interviews, etc. Charge modest fees for the live feed during the event. (With fewer outlets and little connection to the pros otherwise will paintball industry be willing to advertise during events and in other event-related content?) Make individual matches available for cheap downloads post event and offer full event DVDs as well. At this point there are a number of revenue streams and anyone who wants to follow the pro game can mix and match content options but all of them are provided exclusively by the teams and their media partners.
Other options may exist as well. If sponsorships have any value at all (now or in the future) instead of being beholden to the industry sponsors the teams would be in control. Individual teams would be free to arrange whatever deals they wanted or the collective could offer exclusive rights--the paintball of pro paintball--and be promoted as such in all the pro media content.
Initially the unknown concerns are what sort of numbers can reasonably be expected to pay for pro paintball content and can those numbers generate enough revenue to match team outlays and eventually turn a profit? Next question would be can those numbers be grown? I don't know but wouldn't it be money better spent trying to create something sustainable than marching in lockstep until the inevitable end comes? It's money already being spent, just add some work and who knows?
What if the pro teams went one step further and offered a season ending championship event? And the only teams invited were those from the hosting regionals and/or other sanctioned series where the best of the best could fight it out for a real national championship.
Of course this couldn't happen except in some alternate universe because in our universe the factory teams wouldn't be allowed to participate and the primary sponsors would pressure many of the other teams not to participate and the status quo would be maintained and the pro teams will simply continue to come and go.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Your scenario puts the pros in the position of being "owned" by the local field instead. Or by the 1-2 inevitable guys from the pro ranks who step up to manage the thing.

Basically, you're proposing the dream of communism/socialism (in some aspects) while forgetting human nature about incentives.

Pro teams in your scenario will be incentivized to do the bare minimum to support this new concept. Other individuals will pick-up the slack, and rise to the top as leaders. Naturally, as leaders they will make decisions the pros disagree with and been seen as enriching themselves.

The only hope the (leader or field owner) pros would have in this scenario? Pointing to the big bad "other". Being able to point to the PSP and say "it's worse over there".

Otherwise, the inevitable will happen, the creme will rise to the crop and start calling all the shots.

Sorry, but you might as well just propose that all the wealth in the world be equally divided up and then we can be happy. Except shortly after that we'll start to see the same disparities some continue making poor decisions, some cheat, and others excel and are back on top again.

As you know the NPPL in essence started pretty close to how you propose. It evolved into the PSP not because of scheming robber barons, but because of the best, self-interested, and available hard working types worked hard to get to the position they're in.

All that said, every now and then you need new blood or creative destruction to freshen things up. Just don't assume you'll make a new Utopia instead of knocking the bricks down and gradually building the same house again.

Anonymous said...

crop = top!

Bruce Anderson said...

Mr. Baca is more correct than you are giving him credit. He openly admits it's essentially a pipe dream, but he's been there and done that: the wisdom from years of going through the various systems and seeing what has and what has not worked.

Socialist ideals are probably the best chance that "Pro" paintball has to exist in a self-sustaining mode. Calling it Professional is really self-aggrandizing and isn't fair or realistic: there isn't the finances there to justify this moniker.

The past 10 years have essentially proven that a capitalistic approach is doomed to failure.

The fact is, "Pro" paintball is not a marketable or franchise-ready concept because there just isn't any money to be made. It's a labor of love and perhaps this time around, if it can happen, the money will be tied to the fields and the producers and not the players or the teams: those who create the value are those who create the opportunity to play. Teams don't really do much to this end, except as you point out quite well - they take the opportunity to enrich themselves at the expense of the system.

The "Pro" teams needed a reality check, and unless we have 11 more or so individuals that are willing to throw money into a game, the disparity between the top and the bottom will exist, and just like a cancer, eat at the whole until it hemorrhages and bleeds out.

Baca Loco said...

Anon
No more socialistic than the NFL or MLB. And while it is plainly similar to how the original NPPL began it hardly means the same things would inevitably happen all over again. The NPPL degenerated largely because no outside promoters came a knockin' to seek the NPPL's approval and so it was handled internally by those willing to make the effort. My proposal assumes the motivation and dedication of the participants but if the pro teams aren't willing to put something into making pro paintball more than a short term experience we've already learned that nobody else is either. Nor would the pros be beholden to venues, precisely the opposite actually. Finally I'm not suggesting this is the be all end all solution but simply an idea that might be a viable starting point. And if it failed where's the harm? All the participating teams were gonna disappear sooner or later anyway.
If any pro team wants to be more than a transitory fever dream its up to them to act--this is simply a suggestion for what form that action might take.

MQ said...

It all looked like nonsense until I got to the last 2 lines...

Teams have proven themselves incapable of doing what you propose, time and time again. Its all 100% awesome until some work has to be done. At the point where someone is doing all the work they naturally figure they should own the league, and will take steps to do so. At that point, all the people that don't do any work at all, and just enjoy showing up and signing autographs, while looking cool, will cry foul.

Someone always ends up doing all the work, and putting in more money & time than someone else. 2 years tops before you have another regular money-grabbing evil-industry league on your hands, which "doesn't give the power to the player", and you can write another post about how the teams should rise up and control their own destinies again.
The missing piece of your puzzle is communal work-ethic. The teams don't have it. Its unreasonable to expect them to have it, and at the point where you're paying someone else to do all the work, the model falls apart.

Baca Loco said...

MQ
This model is low maintenance except for generating their own version of World Cup. Leave that part out and it isn't a lot of work it's a lot of risk--but it would be risking money they are already committed to spending anyway.
And as a practical matter this is really about team owners, not players.

Anonymous said...

The combined entry fees will just about cover the paint expenses and nothing else. Assuming someone would sell it to them, which is not guaranteed if they leave and do their own thing.

The best you can hope for is a players union where the players get a little power and concessions from the league, until the one president who is doing all the work gets bought-out or co-pted by the industry because the industry has more at stake than the players.

Reading this article though, all I could think of was that the PSP must have really screwed you over!

Baca Loco said...

Anon
No animosity here. I've actually in other guises been suggesting similar ideas in print since 2004--when times were great--for the simple reason the current model assumes and promotes team turnover and has no real interest in changing. Which is fine, why should they? Again, my point is if the pro teams want to try and build something they will have to take responsibility for it themselves.

Re: the paint. Sure but that so-called benefit is also a choke collar keeping the teams in line. As I said it's a potentially high risk venture but until someone has something better to offer it's that or the status quo.

Anonymous said...

When faced with the 2 options:

1. Have someone else set up an event for you, show up, play. be admired by a throng of lower division players.

2. Spend the same money, hopefully not more, and set it up yourself. Play with only your peers watching.

Out of these I'm betting they pick the 2nd option, for any number of reasons.

Baca Loco said...

Anon
Did you even read the OP? Or are you making up your own versions?

NewPro said...

Other "Pro Sports" revenue streams
1.TV Rights
2.Merchandise
3.Ticket sales

Our Version
1. webcast royalties
2.Capability to merchandise, the PSP can't or won't
3. Ticket Sales return to league
4. Entries

My point, although our streams are definitely smaller in stature, they are still streams of revenue gained by the league due to the participation of the Pro teams. No matter how little the stream, it should be directed at the proper parties or at the very least shared.

Anonymous said...

Is it pros go your own way or manufacturers?

MQ said...

NewPro, howya doin?

Lets say that the revenue streams you highlight are directed at the 'proper parties'. Let's assume you mean the Pro teams.
At the point that this revenue, or a shared part of it, is now directed at Pro teams, what do you think happens to the league?
My guess is that the first thing to happen is the Pro entry triples, or is adjusted by a multiple that takes into account the new 'value' of being a pro team.
Then, how do you work the split? Do Impact and Heat get more than Shock? That would make sense, as we can assume more people would want to buy those games to watch and buy that merchandise to wear, as they are a higher ranked team.
Where do you feel that the 'webcast royalties' would come from? Are the royalties deducted from net 'profit'? Wouldn't cutting the teams a cheque accelerate the 'inevitable' collapse of a project that we all assume already operates in the red?


Interested in how you see this actually working.

NewPro said...

I do see value in the Pro Teams, they are why I watch the webcast, follow Dynasty and buy certain gear from certain Mfg.
How the dynamics of profit sharing, royalty payments, etc would work...I could only guess.

I know neither the logostics nor cost involced with the webcast but I also know I wouldnt pay to watch non-pro teams, so by default, the pro teams particpation gives value to the process. Whether its built into cost or profit shared, is something the two parties would have to decide but going out on a limb and following up on what coach posted, "if the pros split, played their series under an independent banner or played their series in conjunction with say WCPPL, would the league(more importantly PBA) be better off or worse.
I would invision Costs (all inclusive) being withheld and the remaining profit split 50/50 to all particpants in the top tier (revenue sharing).
The PSP could outsource the merchandise with licensing agreements with the team and follow the same formula.
Ticket sales, again, entries paid by the Pros cover the infrastructure, so game tickets could again be split 50/50.

This partnership to me seems heavily weighted in the leagues favor, even if intentional. The PSP draws heavily on the "come play the best", "the league the pros play" and why not, they have their cake and are eating it to. Their has to come a point where saying you're pro or competing in the PRO div is going to be passe (big fuckin deal).