In an article posted yesterday on LostRemote; it was reported that ESPN will air all 225 championship week games on Facebook via the branch of ESPN3. I don’t know why, but this irks me in all the wrong ways.
First off, where is your target market? ESPN3 Vice President of ESPN3 Damon Phillips said “We see this as a big opportunity. You fish where the fish are.” Okay, I understand the analogy, but the Facebook pond is out of fish! Facebook boasts about 150 million United States users. I am going to go out on a limb and say 100 million of them are giddy teenage girls who don’t know what NCAA Championship Week is. ESPN3 requires a subscription through your Internet service provider; which means you cannot obtain an individual ESPN3 membership. I would say this cuts 50 million remaining users down to about 20 million. Of these 20 million who are subscribed to ESPN3 and also are interested in NCAA basketball, 10 million of them have something better to do than watch 225 championship week games. Of the 10 million remaining in the market; seven million would rather watch these games on their television rather than via Facebook. This leaves us with three million users who may choose Facebook as their college basketball media outlet. Two million of them have to go to work or school during these games. In turn, less than one percent of United States Facebook users will utilize this feature. Maybe I am over-exaggerating some of these numbers, but I don’t see how I could be too far off.
Another issue I have with this third party broadcast is the connectivity issues. This game is going to go from a live feed; through ESPN servers; through your Internet Service Provider then to your computer; and through the website Facebook. At this point we are about nine seconds behind live game play, and with varying Internet speeds; playback is prone to frequent skipping and pausing.
My final gripe about this PR move is my commitment to watching sports where they were intended to be broadcasted. For example I wouldn’t tune in to MTV to hear Carson Daly’s take on the Super Bowl. I wouldn’t watch SportsCenter to see what my friends were doing this weekend. These mediums are far too far apart to stand any sort of correlation.
Maybe I am a pessimist, maybe I am a realist, maybe I am just plain mean. Whatever I am, I know that watching the NCAA championship week on Facebook is not something that intrigues me at all. I am even a huge fan of college basketball as well as Facebook. I just don’t want to see them integrated any time soon.