Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What is STADIUM? Here's A Few Answers

I had the opportunity to interview Adam Anshell, VP of networks & live events for Silver Chalice Ventures, about STADIUM, its potential programming and how easy it will be to consume the content being provided from American Sports Network, Campus Insiders & 120 Sports.

From Adam's brief overview of STADIUM, the key point I took away is that STADIUM wants to provide a multi-platform sports network that is consumable via connected devices, Twitter, linear television, mobile devices...virtually any type of product able to receive a television signal or has internet capability.  The main difference is that STADIUM is not requiring authentication to a pay TV provider, unlike the requirements many of us have when watching ESPN online.  I suppose a comparison could be drawn to HBO Now, where you the consumer can go directly to HBO without needing a TV provider, except there's no charge for STADIUM where there's a cost for HBO Now.  With that said, I brought up how Campus Insiders currently had a deal with Sling with Sling itself being a TV provider, and he said that partnership would continue, but would be separate from STADIUM.

EDIT: Per further clarification, the Sling TV component will also be branded as STADIUM, but not part the 24/7 network.

My next question involved how much non-live event programming would come from existing partners at 120 Sports, such as MLB through Baseball Advanced Media (BAM), the PGA, the NHL and Sports Illustrated.  Adam noted that programming from those partners would be showcased on STADIUM and that they were working with those partners to determine what programming is available to be shown on STADIUM that does not run afoul of existing rights agreements and what can air exclusively via digital means vs. adding over-the-air television.

I then brought up how there was a mix of technology in use with respect to streaming on Campus Insiders and 120 Sports, and asked if there was a plan to streamline the technology to be used to serve up content both online & through native apps, as apps such as Campus Insiders haven't been updated in some time.  Adam was able to provide that the bulk of the content would be shifting to a backend being redesigned with the help of BAM along with their web portal, which will be located at when it launches over the next few months.

With respect to the content that Sinclair was bringing over as part of ASN, Adam noted that many of the programming deals ASN had in place have expired or would be expiring in the near future.  For the deals being carried forward to STADIUM, which does include Conference USA, I asked about how non-Sinclair owned and/or operated television networks would be able to view STADIUM live events and he noted that the new entity would be working to meet the contractual obligations of those deals as they carried forward to STADIUM.  He also noted there was more than one existing ASN contract coming over to the new partnership but was not able to comment on who those other entities are.

I then brought up how ASN had stretched themselves to cover multiple events within a single "telecast window" & asked if that would continue.  Adam provided that the plan was to not regionalize live events & to provide a single 24/7 network, though the digital side would have multiple live events going on.  He did allow that existing contractual obligations from ASN might require syndication of multiple games in a single window at the start.

Next, I asked about the potential for content over at Campus Insiders that was exclusive to their platform, such as live events from the Mountain West and WCC, and the feasibility of events from those entities airing on STADIUM who were not on ASN.  Similar to what he shared earlier with respect to content from professional sports entities, STADIUM was working through all existing partnerships to determine what they could delivery both digitally & over-the-air vs. digital only.

My final question involved how heavy the schedule would rely on live events vs. studio programming, and whether STADIUM would have nightly live events.  He said live events would be a differentiator and not just in the areas of football & men's basketball, but there would be a studio presence along with programming similar to what is currently presented on 120 Sports, and that schedule would be formulated over coming weeks and months.

I appreciate Adam taking some time out of his schedule to entertain these questions and I'm very interested to see how these entities execute delivery of this new platform to its various destinations both digitally & via television.  The model is very unique and I imagine others are paying attention to its successes and improvements over time.

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