OH CANADA ! Why no broadcasting / live streaming of field hockey from Pan Am Games Toronto 2015 ?

Posted in Argentine Hockey, English Hockey, on line marketing, Pan Am Games on July 23rd, 2015 by John Coxon

(Please note –  I have no official association professionally or otherwise with any hockey club or organisation and the views below are my own )

Hockey - made for television!

Hockey – made for television!

For field hockey to grow & have profile/status  I feel it deserves live streaming of all major events as standard is vital but sadly that still remains the dream. The Pan Am Games, for fans of hockey, has much wider importance than for those in the New World because with the Rio Olympics now imminent , the Pan Ams are both a ticket for international teams to qualify but also of great interest for teams and their fans in Europe and the Southern Hemisphere who welcome the opportunity to see where the higher world ranked teams , like Argentina and USA are up to development wise  but why when so many around the world would like to watch live games is this how the game is currently represented ? Like this sadly :-

Blank Screen - no broadcasts

Blank Screen – no broadcasts

Like many professional photographers and journalists I empathise with so called minority sports like field hockey and where I can , use the internet and social media prolifically to offer what support I can in images and words.  To do this adequately live coverage /live streamed broadcasts are essential.  The recent World Hockey League in Valencia and Antwerp was covered by mainstream broadcaster SkySports ( where the sports governing body had paid for coverage) and crucially also available free and live streamed via Star TV India enabling those without the means to go Pay Per View to watch the games and help raise the profile of the game but fans of the game had to rely on people like myself and many others  sharing links to the alternative streaming.  The Star India TV website was not an easy to navigate one and I found it a real challenge to find live feeds there confounded by confusion about time zones.

argentine TYc

For the Pan Am Games only Argentina’s TyC sports TV has provided limited live streamed coverage via its web site where their national sides have been involved but this with sound but no commentary and for those trying to access and watch games outside of Argentina many found that the broadcasts were subject to regional restrictions.

Tyc - hard to navigate site !

Tyc – hard to navigate site !

Those with the savvy could , as I was able to do with some difficulty for the games featuring teams from Argentina,  use the trusted “Hola “ Google Chrome extension which overcomes regional barriers by enabling you to appear to be browsing from the country where there are no regional restrictions in play.

Promising but deceptively selective !

Promising but deceptively selective !

Even without language issues I found it frustratingly difficult to find the relevant live feed on the Tyc website and had to rely on fans Tweeting me direct urls

Relatively simple & affordable technology is available as an alternative to cover  * live stream games -mainstream broadcasters are not essential.

Relatively simple & affordable technology is available as an alternative to cover * live stream games -mainstream broadcasters are not essential.

But, as with Star TV, in addition to time differences both theirs and the Tyc websites proved very challenging to find the actual source of the live feeds .  Naturally, without the broadcasting rights, individual hockey governing bodies around the world would not be able to make public , nor be seen to be privy to helping fans get around restrictions by for example Tweeting alternative live feed URLS although individual fans are not constrained in that regard. ( Most if not all international hockey organisations do a valiant job, particularly on Twitter, announcing  games and then providing updates via live tweet commentary which also helps fans and supporters of the games to have at least some access to what is going on)

Even semi final between hosts & USA not televised due to rights issues.  (image source PAGH website )

Even semi final between hosts & USA not televised due to rights issues. (image source PAGH website )

 

ALL ABOUT THE MONEY, MONEY , MONEY  NOT SPORT ?

The issue is that of the trend in the way broadcasting rights are sold en masse and to me it appears very odd that the sports global governing body, the International hockey Federation (FIH) and the Pan Am Games Hockey Federation were both disenfranchised by this blanket broadcasting rights deal on offer even though in fact no provision was in place, it appears, to have field hockey games covered by TV cameras at all in Toronto.  In effect, bizarrely it seem to me,  the game somehow   does not own its own image rights and therefore is unable to license rights to view its brand and thus both gain income from it and help raise the profile of the game  and help it reach new audiences.  That does not appear to have been an issue for the International Triathlon Union who are world leaders in covering their sport proactively.

The Pan Am Hockey organisation published an explanation of the issues in detail and  they have it transpires valiantly tried to overcome them without success.

“ This company ( 3rd party to who all rights were sold) has no real interest in the Games themselves, in the competitions or in the sports fans; they are a financial institution needing a return on their investment and they categorically refused to let the continental sport organizations stream the competitions not covered by TV, unless they purchase the broadcast rights for every single country where the stream would be accessible…

In other terms, they prefer to protect their rights to nothing (since there is no feed produced) rather than cooperate with the continental sport organizations in the interest of sport and sports fans…”

WHO SOLD SPORT OUT ?

(I am left puzzled in asking the question who in fact owns the rights for events like the Pan Am Games and thus who agreed, for profit I would hazard a guess , to allow all rights to all sports featured at the events( sports whether actually  televised or not) to be sold outright to a third party with no other interest  than in financial gain ??)

IS HOCKEY MARKETABLE ?

 

Field Hockey has an ever growing number of active participants globally and the standard of the game is ever improving and has  included changing some of the rules to make it more attractive for spectators and a wider public whose attention it may  thus far have escaped. So the brand itself is in a much better place than ever before. In the UK for example it is second only to football in the number of active participants it has and yet here it still struggles to attract adequate  investment from sponsors .

 

Globally, this broadcasting fiasco in Toronto, is a global symptom of a marketing reality of major sports events like Olympics  where sports like Hockey with genuine sporting values are not the focus of global highly ethical brands but to an extent victims of opportunistic global brands  milking a good thing & paying for the kudos of appearing ethical ! It  no fault of the sport or its governance . The Pan Am Games throws up key issues which can only be addressed by the sport being even more proactive in marketing and broadcasting including securing rights to its own brand.

Live streaming not terrestrial TV is the future of all sports both as public  access to them  is increasingly on line through phones and a range of other hand held devices.

As with the London Olympics, where spectator numbers for hockey outstripped all other competitive team games , hockey has proved already that it is a marketable and potentially far more popular sport than current broadcaster interest suggests.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT (It is not without irony that the UK ,Europe ,Americas and elsewhere are under very real threat from an obesity epidemic  a combination of poor diet, junk food preferences and lack of physical activity and sports like field hockey  offer role models to aspire to be like  plus bringing a range of health benefits to those involved in it at all levels. The inclusion of both Coca Cola and Mc Donalds as major sponsors of the London Olympics  really indicates the power of wealthy conglomerates  and perhaps their cynicism  . In both cases, with those brands aware that their products  cannot be radically altered to make them more healthy without losing considerable sales, investing heavily in sport sponsorship  enables them, by dint of association, to appear to be helping fund healthier options ! )

HOCKEY – THE BRAND

Hockey is a pacey dramatic sport to view on TV these days

Hockey is a pacey dramatic sport to view on TV these days

 

Field hockey as is an exciting and ethical  brand  where played at the highest level, attractive to watch and more than worthy of more funding and sponsor investment . Hockey  does not have an image problem in the same way for example that football does.

 

Hockey  embodies at all levels including international, the spirit of traditional sporting values and is free from doping scandals, corruption scandals at governing body level and free of racism and simulation and other forms of cheating to gain advantage and players who social behaviour brings the sport into disrepute.  Governing bodies internationally , along with the hockey community have made great strides in the last decade or so  to raise the profile of the game and to attract better inward investment  in a variety of ways including making very effective use of social media  but , for it to enjoy the profile it deserves it is regular  live broadcasts of major events that it desperately needs to broaden its audience to the extent I really do feel it deserves.

 

It appears that before the Pan Am Games urgent attention was given to trying to resolve these issues including investigating hiring a company to be present videoing the games , a considerable expense where 48 games in total were involved.  Essentially , rights for sports that do enjoy more media attention already were handsomely covered for live broadcasting and hockey would have had to bid very large sums to secure rights which was beyond the games current  means.

 

For more on this sad state of affairs read the Pan Am Hockey website article on the issue  http://www.panamhockey.org/en/news-374-no-television-coverage-or-streaming-for-hockey

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Does merchandising “issues” mean jumping on the Silicone Band Wagon ?

Posted in on line marketing on January 27th, 2013 by John Coxon

blogstud1

 

 

 

 

 

 

( originally from my journal/ my first blog , on the now closed “Blogstudio” Blog site 2005  http://www.blogstudio.com/johncoxon/ but rings some bells still after a decade and even more ironic given the free fall from grace lately of cycling drug cheat Lance Armstrong whose cancer charity yellow bands were a globally worn  accessory ,on many a wrist including a lot of celebrities and world class athletes until his cover was completely blown recently. (There remains a substantial body of my writing , ostensibly for American readers ,but because the site is dormant  this link appears to take you to a blank sheet but left of page and scrolling down you will  find a range of links to various  articles I indexed)

bandwagon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Racism has been an unpleasant and unwanted feature of national and international football matches and there has been widespread controversy about the way the governing bodies of football, in various countries,  have dealt with incidences of it when reported to them. There has  widespread outrage recently at how some national  football organisations, notably in Spain and Italy,  have reacted so weakly to complaints of racist abuse from , from example some of their supporters towards black players in English teams.

 

The vastly wealthy and influential global sportswear company,  Nike,  have put their marketing weight behind an anti-racism campaign, “Stand up-Speak out “which includes the sale of these inter-twinned black and white bracelets at key sportswear outlets. Two black players ,  Thierry Henry and Rio Ferdinand, who have both had direct experience of being racially abused during football matches,  fronted Nike’s campaign. This corporate altruism seems to me a tad ironic given that the company does not have a squeaky clean record when it comes to ethical trading.

 

Much has been written about third world workers who actually are involved in the manufacture the goods big  companies like Nike  market , people (including child labour)  who have been / are being  exploited for profit and denied, for example , simple basic  rights like that of being able to form or belong to Trade Unions.

 

Only recently, the duality of it all came into focus . Gifted young  England player, Wayne Rooney ,  himself a questionable role model for youngsters (having , for example, verbally abused a referee recently ,) appeared in the dressing room minutes before the International friendly with Holland  kicked off  with a box of Nike anti-racist bracelets and began giving them out to England players along with team “physio” Gary Lewin .

 

( The Dutch team, sponsored by Nike, wore a black and white  special anti-racist campaign based team strip for the match and I understand that will be their official kit this season.)  The dressing room  joke is that many of the regular  England  players are signed up  in highly  lucrative sponsorship deals with a variety of sportswear companies and the Nike produced anti-racism bands represented a conflict of interest for them. Some, like Manchester United’s Gary Neville, were angry that Nike were trying to gain commercial capital from the issue and were cheapening the campaign by what advertising “guru”, Kevin May,  called typical of  Nike “guerrilla” marketing strategy. Nike did not have official  permission  (from the UK’s  governing body , the Football Association , or from the England team manager)  to distribute the bands amongst the players.

 

I borrowed this wrist band from my partner’s nine  year old grand-daughter  to illustrate this article. ( It cost her father £4GBP in a well know sportswear retailer and I have no idea if any of that money would normally go to any anti-racist charity and certainly the Nike company could so easily fund a global campaign given the size of their annual profits .)  It was interesting and enlightening  to hear the earnest conversation, the other day, between the little girl of nine and my partner’s  thirteen year old  daughter about whether it was just a fashion item or something more.

 

(It was noticeable that, when charities used folded ribbons for fundraising, children and teenagers were not , it seems to me, particularly interested in buying them or wearing them. But , more recently , the number of ‘good causes’ silicone wrist bands has increased making it possible for a person to wear their heart on their sleeve, or rather their wrist with   a veritable rainbow of colour . Currently the catalogue includes , amongst others, the blue and white  Tsunami band,  the white Make Poverty History  band , the Dutch  and American  orange “Respect” and “Respect  2 all”  bands  , multiple coloured “I will” bands (muscular dystrophy charity) and the  pink ( Breast Cancer charity.)   wrist band.

 

It was inevitable that some opportunist profiteers would  “jump on the bandwagon” or appear guilty of it, is evidenced in the increasing trend amongst young people particularly, to wear the colourful “issue” charity bracelets as merely a fashion statement and often regardless of their actual significance. The trend, I believe, began innocently enough with yellow “Live Strong”  bands , popularly worn by many sporting and media celebrities and originally designed to  promote awareness of  cancer issues  but also to raise funds for the Lance Armstrong Foundation . http://www.laf.org/  . Naturally, many youngsters wanted to copy their role models or identify with celebrities in a visible way and that opened the much wider market for these items beyond simply fund raising.

 

Obscenely, originals and very probably a lot of pirated fakes from this and other reputable charities are being openly traded on the internet as this latest fashion trend /craze spreads around the world and cynical back street manufacturers are capitalising on the latest good thing, by mass producing charity silicone wristbands with of course no interest in or concern for the charities they are ripping off.

 

There are of course a lot of young people, I suspect alas in an increasing minority, who are genuinely concerned about health and social and environmental issues and who will have shown their concern in buying official charity wrist bands and for whom it is not merely a fashion accessory. . But, given what a powerful force direct and indirect peer group pressure can be, if you happen to be a child and all your friends have one or more of these bands, it seems more likely that , for the majority,  the bands will have “herd identity” value only. If that is the case the average  child would be less concerned about the actual intended symbolism of these bands and have little or no concern about the source of this latest “must have now” item or where the money you pay up front for it  is actually going to end up.

 

The bonus for kids too, is that as a fashion accessory, the coloured silicone wristband is relatively very cheap in comparison to the latest mobile phone; the latest designer sports shoes or latest designer logo-ed sport clothes through which so many kids buy into or feel they have to buy into (and so often pester their parents into funding)  , so that they can belong to a group defined in many ways by these temporary status symbols. Manufacturers capitalise on this consumer status symbol fever by annually changing models and designs to ensure the market remains buoyant and they continue to make often excessive profit.

 

 

In fact coloured silicone wristbands are now just the latest thing in a long line of relatively cheap brand marketing devices and a number of companies actually now specialise in customised wristbands for promotional and marketing use.  . For example, very recently, a big sportswear chain in the UK, JJB Sports, have been offering free white silicone wrist bands bearing the cross of St. George ( emblem of our national football team)  when customers buy the latest replica England National Team.  Suddenly, wrist bands have gained craze status and “street cred “ so manufacturers  can look forward to profiting from the trend  before an ever  fickle general public is turned on by some new novelty device.

 

Etymology note.

“Jumping on the band wagon”

The phrase comes from the USA where political parades were often accompanied by a band on a wagon. Political leaders often joined them in the hope of gaining popular support. It has come to mean joining a growing movement /trend  in support of someone or something, often in an opportunist way.

Band can be a company of musicians or an organisation to which someone belongs and or is bound. It can also be a strip of material used to bind something as in hair or wrist band and can also mean a kind of  bracelet or finger ring as in band of gold.

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