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Patrick Johnston: Sports media battles to keep fans' attention during COVID-19 shutdown – The Province

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Some sports fans have curbed their appetite for live action by watching such things as The Last Dance on Netflix, a Michael Jordan story that includes wild tales of former teammate Dennis (The Worm) Rodman, pictured.

Matt King / Getty Images Files

No live sports means sports broadcasts have to innovate. But will fans stick stay along for the much different ride?

There is something we know about people hanging close to home during the COVID-19 pandemic, waiting for some semblance of normalcy to return: they are reading news stories like never before.

Still, that low hum that sports leagues are emitting about their odds of returning to arenas and fields in the coming months when it’s safe to do so is a response to the knowledge that people are searching for live action. And there are bills to be paid.

Viewers are conditioned to watch games at a particular time and then many follow that up with a search for further information, be that in reading a story on a website —or in a newspaper — watching more TV or listening to radio and podcasts.

But with the live portion cut out these days, that instinctual connection to seek further analysis is muted. And that means the outlets that cover sports are in a fight to keep readers and viewers interested.

Underneath it all is a question: are we at an inflection point? Could COVID-19 force a change in how sports media operates?

“So much programming relies on what happened today, yesterday, that news, that game analysis. It’s a big sea change to shift the programming when you don’t have the daily games. What it does is it exposes the creativity of broadcasters,” Rob Gray, a longtime broadcast and communications executive, said Tuesday.

The media ecosystem that has already sprung up around The Last Dance, the documentary focused on Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls, airing on ESPN in the U.S. and Netflix globally, is one example of this creativity.

“There are innovations happening everywhere. Look at TSN’s Bardown, they’re doing quick breakdowns on Instagram,” Gray said.

On the radio and in podcasts, it means finding new things to talk about — and hoping those topics are able to at least retain the listeners who aren’t going to be hearing what they’ve been conditioned to hear.

“Right now radio seems to be getting by, even if there’s not a lot of sports to talk about, though the NFL is providing some food in the (Tom) Brady move and the draft. But they’re going to be starving for material,” said Aziz Rajwani, a lecturer at the University of B.C.’s Sauder School of Business.

“They’re going to have to talk about movies, other things. It’s about entertaining. Hosts who are really good at communicating, those ones will do well.”

The new economic reality can’t be ignored either, he said: there’s a recession likely coming.

“While listeners are trying to get food back on the table, they’re reading about all these contracts, how are they going to relate at all,” Rajwani wondered. “Here’s a guy making 22 bucks an hour, here’s a guy making $22 million. Ten years ago I thought people were going to turn away, but they didn’t.”

The number of listeners are undoubtedly down. The decline of the portable radio and home radio means that most conventional radio listeners are travelling in cars.

“People aren’t in their cars right now. That’s where sports radio is tuned in. The less people travel, the less they’re in their cars,” he added.

In an industry that has fuelled itself forever on selling advertising — ratings dictate ad rates — that’s an essential challenge.

Advertisers, Gray suggested, are mostly still waiting to see what happens in the novel coronavirus era.

“There’s no timeline on (COVID-19 ending), that’s the most challenging thing for advertisers,” he said. “There’s lots of advertisers who aren’t doing anything because they’re trying to figure things out, but there have been some really good campaigns to keep themselves top of mind, saying ‘we’re going to be there to help you.’

“I think that’s very smart. There’s a real opportunity for advertisers to be part of the community. That message is there to get out.”

Fans without sports to watch may find their viewing habits shifting. They may become more comfortable watching streaming services like Netflix and Amazon. Those services eschew the old advertising-focused funding models, instead asking viewers to pay direct for their specific choices.

Online streaming of sports has mostly been about giving fans everything they want — and perhaps more — in viewing options. Amazon has shown a smattering of sports in the U.S. and holds soccer rights in the U.K., while in Canada DAZN has streaming rights to all of the NFL — which is also still available on traditional cable after DAZN’s botched launch in 2017 —  the UEFA Champions League and English Premier League soccer.

Having soccer packaged almost all in one place has been the story in Canada for many years, with Sportsnet and TSN showing far more English soccer to Canadians than fans were able to watch in the U.K.

It’s become almost canonical that the next NHL US TV contract will be big, because it will include streaming rights, something that wasn’t a factor in the previous deals signed in the U.S. and Canada.

In its own way, the NHL mimics the U.K.’s splintered rights packages, since local games are still divvied up by team regions. And fans have become used to paying extra for non-local market games.

With the long-term viewing trend seeing more and more fans ditching cable for streaming services anyway, the current situation could just accelerate that shift.

“You wonder if the league makes more money in the five different packages, like it is in the U.K.,” Gray said.

The longer sports is on the sidelines, the longer listeners and viewers will have to change their habits. That could be trouble for “old-school” media, if it isn’t already.

pjohnston@postmedia.com

twitter.com/risingaction

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U of G 'taking steps' to address student's racist social media posts – GuelphToday

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Racist videos from a University of Guelph student posted on the popular social media site TikTok on the weekend has sparked outrage among students and concern by the school.

In the 24 hours since the student posted the two videos, numerous students alerted the U of G’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, with the university issuing a statement that declared its intolerance towards any expression of hatred and its solidarity with black students.

In one of the TikTok videos, a caption reads ‘Me teaching the black kid how to read in the 2nd grade,’ and the student is seen performing a skit where he says ‘you saved me. Why?’ to which he himself responds ‘monkey.’

In the second video, the student is seen searching the word ‘slave’ on google and then hovering over the ‘shopping’ option on the website.

The student’s TikTok account has since been deleted and the videos garnered over 3,000 views when they were was last seen Monday afternoon.

In an interview with GuelphToday, U of G student Nanci Dos Santos — who shared the video on Facebook — said no one can look at the student’s content and say that it is not hurtful. 

“It expresses hate and racism. I would be a part of the problem if I let this go,” said Dos Santos.

She said if the university listens to the students’ pleas to let the student go, it will be a step in the right direction towards equality and justice on campus. 

“The University of Guelph has been made aware of a racist social media post by a student. We are a university community committed to mutual respect and anti-racism. We will not tolerate any expressions of hatred. We are taking steps to address this troubling situation that we know is hurtful to many members of our community,” read a statement issued by the university on Sunday.

“We stand in solidarity with black students, faculty and staff at the U of G against racism and violence during this troubling time and always. We offer support to anyone feeling vulnerable or at risk. We are here as allies to the black community and will do our part to ensure respect, safety and dignity on our campuses.”

U of G administration declined further comment when contacted.

The University of Guelph Student Life and Student Experience Group also issued a statement saying it recognizes that the videos have impacted Black students on campus and a cultural diversity advisor is available for support.

Several attempts to reach the student who posted the offensive material were unsuccessful.

Students expressed anger at the posts on the popular student Facebook group, Overheard at Guelph: 

Sierra Mcewen

RACISM IS NOT A TREND. PERIOD.

Nanci Dos Santos

aint nobody posting this for likes. I’m posting this so people will pressure the school to act. acknowledge your privilege to ignore these issues and go.

Nyokani Natana
Brennan Georges this video isn’t just plainly offensive or a “mistake” he made on tik tok. what this video really means to people like me is that the next time i have to go to class, i do have to worry if the person sitting next to me may just think that i’m nothing more than a monkey or i deserve to be sold into slavery. and that pain runs deeper than you could ever even care to imagine. so yes, exposing him is necessary so that we can recognize who really feels what and just maybe he can start realizing the effects of his action

Eveline Van Sligtenhorst Adomait

As a Guelph prof, as a mother of 2 half black (very smart) sons, as a Canadian, as a concerned citizen for racial equality—I am appalled at this young man’s post. I have forwarded this post to the interim president’s office. Contact Dr Charlotte Yates if you want to add your voice. BLM

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Matt George Wants To Amplify 'Maritime Minds' With New Media Company – Huddle Today

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SAINT JOHN — A New Brunswick entrepreneur wants to amplify Atlantic Canadian voices with a new media and podcast network.

Matt George is the founder of the Unsettled Media, a company aiming to produce shows that elevate brilliant minds and ideas out of Atlantic Canada.

The idea to start the network came from George’s experience producing his own podcast called Unsettled with Matt George, where he explores the intersections of culture, business & technology through interviews with thought leaders, entrepreneurs and more.

“It’s a really incredible way to meet people you want to make a connection with and dig deeper into their story,” he says. “If you’re going to ask them if they want to sit down with you for a coffee for an hour, it’s maybe a 50/50 chance they’ll say yes. But for a podcast, it kind of takes it to a new level because they get to amplify their message and it’s a great way to dig into their story.”

Podcasting could also be a great way to make money, he says. The industry has seen some very hefty transactions over the last year, including most recently the Joe Rogan Experience podcast being acquired by Spotify for what’s been reported to be over $100-million. The music streaming service also purchased The Ringer podcast network earlier this year. That’s not even mentioning the advertising revenue podcasts can make and other untapped markets for the medium.

“I thought, ‘okay, there’s something here.’ I’ve seen the growth in the industry, specifically with advertiser revenue, the industry growth has been absolutely incredible as people shift from standard traditional media over to do new mediums like podcasting,” says George.

“Podcasting itself isn’t all that new but there’s a lot of communities that haven’t yet dug into the medium and there’s a lot of blue sky available within that industry.”

George had previously worked in economic development and immigration, working on a lot of the province’s immigration programs, including the Syrian response in 2015. But he recently decided to pursue the growth of Unsettled Media full-time.

“On the one hand, a pandemic for some is a terrible time to be an entrepreneur … But on the other side, it’s an incredible time to be an internet-based entrepreneur and build an online business, especially as people go to build out their platforms. Businesses want to get their message out in a different way. We’ve seen every organization put out a webinar series of some kind to try to reach their audience,” says George.

“I thought okay, what we really should be doing is setting up a network here where we become a production company that tries to amplify Atlantic Canadian podcasters and Atlantic Canadian companies that are trying to reach their audience through audio.”

The Unsettled Media Podcast Network currently has three shows: Unsettled with Matt George; Growing Pains with David Campbell and Newcomers in Businesses with Karla Briones. All these shows fit into the company’s mission of highlighting Atlantic Canadians and fostering conversations around economic growth. George says the goal is to have five more added at the end of the year.

When it comes to revenue, Unsettled Media has two sources of revenue. The first is through developing and fostering shows with talents. When the company finds a host/show they want to have on the network, they’ll cover the upfront costs of producing and branding the show. Any revenue from things like advertising and events will be shared between the company and the host.

“What we want to be able to do is attract an incredible Atlantic Canadian voice or Maritime mind that otherwise wouldn’t explore the medium either because it’s too complicated to get into, or they’re just so focused on their traditional media streams. What we want to do is say, ‘all you have to do is show up and be great.’ That’s it,” says George.

“We’ll handle the audio production. We’ll host the audio. We’ll complete an entire branding and image for the podcast … We’ll do all the work. You just show up and be you and hopefully, we can share in the upside and we look to gather advertiser revenues or as we look to do paid webinar content.

The revenue stream is producing podcasts for businesses and organizations. Unsettled Media can be hired to help an organization of business produce a podcast or podcast series that explores a topic or issue. For example, Unsettled is helping produce the Turning Point Series being put on by theNew Brunswick Business Council and nine other economic development, business and community organizations.

RELATED: Online Conference And Podcast Series Aims To ‘Re-imagine’ N.B.

“If you’re a business or an organization that wants to get your message out there or explore a branded podcast, we can absolutely look at doing an agreed-upon run of episodes that dig into the topics that your business is dealing with and give your clients a completely different way to interface with what you’re doing,” says George.

Unsettled Media also has its newsletter, which features content curated and/or written by George and will soon incorporate content from show hosts and more. There is a free version of the newsletter as well as a subscription model for those who wish to receive additional content.

“We want out listeners and readers to engage with us in literally any medium they want,” says Geroge. “So supplementary to the podcast, we have the Unsettled Newsletter which we publish on Substack. We monetize through patron contributions.”

One of the appealing things about podcasting is that it’s accessible and relatively easy and inexpensive to do. It takes a lot of work for shows to get beyond “hobby status” and reach a point of growth where it can generate considerable revenue. But George plans to do that with Unsettled Media, making it a go-to place for quality and thoughtful podcasts out of Atlantic Canada.

“It’s something that I’m so focused on, is amplifying Atlantic Canadian content by Atlantic Canadians,” says George.

“The mission is to amplify the best Maritime minds on offer and to send that message out to the world because I think we have a lot to offer.”

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Citizens use police tracking apps and social media to expose US attacks on peaceful protesters

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Impeached US President Donald Trump, in response to civil unrest surrounding the killing of George Floyd, over the weekend ordered US military and police forces to attack citizen protesters.

During the protests, violent criminals taking advantage of the chaos clashed with vigilantes encouraged by the president’s reckless tweets causing numerous casualties, including several deaths. But the ongoing protests have drawn tens of millions of people from across the country, the vast majority of which remain peaceful.

The police and military, however, are attacking peaceful protesters around the country without provocation.

Police and military personnel in dozens of cities across the country were caught assaulting peaceful protesters in videos that were streamed live on social media and shared by millions. Many of the attacks are confusing and appear motivated by nothing more than the desire to hurt citizens, no matter how peaceful they were:

They shot a blind man. What threat could this blind brown man have possibly posed to the officers that shot him?

They attacked elderly bystanders:

They attacked politicians:

They broke ranks to attack black people:

They ran over protesters:

They let white people pass, then busted the windows out of a car full of black people so they could shoot them with tasers multiple times and then drag them out of their vehicles and assault them for breaking-curfew-while-black:

They fired on people standing on their porches:

And they fired on people inside their own homes:

Among those targeted across the country were numerous reporters. In several instances, police opened fire on reporters after they confirmed their identities as members of the press. This, too, comes at the orders of the impeached president who has declared the press the “enemy of the people.”

Cops in a handful of cities used the protests as an opportunity to feign solidarity with those protesting them.

A small group of police officers have chosen to join the protesters in uniform. However, it’s telling that tens of millions of cameras aimed at the police have captured hundreds of instances of police violence but, to the best of this reporter’s knowledge, no instances showing police who aren’t attacking peaceful protesters stopping the ones who are.. The ones marching with us instead of protecting us from violence are getting paid the same taxpayer dollars as the colleagues they’re failing to police.

How did this all happen? Social media and police scanner apps, that’s how. We’ve seen protests and riots in the US before. But in the past, the narrative always hinged on showing legions of violent looters burning buildings at night juxtaposed against calm, stoic peace officers protecting protesters from harm during the day.

But, so far, the government can’t force people to sign off Twitter or stop downloading apps. Curfews and overloaded phone lines can’t keep activists from organizing and, perhaps most important of all, the people finally have a dead-simple option to monitor the police in real time.

Tracking police communications used to require a hardware scanner and a little bit of know how. But these days you can get one by simply searching for “police scanner” in the Apple or Google app store. All you have to do is install the app and pick the dispatch you want to listen in on. Most of these apps will alert you when there’s police action in a city and you can always tell how many people are listening to a specific stream.

At least six times while listening to police comms via scanner on 30 May, I overheard officers in Minneapolis signal their intent to fire chemical weapons at peaceful crowds and subsequently saw tweets go out warning protesters to prepare their cameras and ready themselves for impending assault.

I tip my hat to the tireless efforts of those risking their lives and freedom to expose the tyranny of the US government in this unprecedented time. Stay safe out there, stay non-violent, and keep filming.

Source: – The Next Web

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Edited By harry Miller

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