The Future of Baseball on TV – GoPro + Catchers [Business Ideas]

I am really excited about the Oculus Rift, the Virtual Reality gaming platform – I’ve been heavily interested in virtual reality since I was a kid. Relating to this, I really liked the idea of Scottie Pippen Slam City for the Sega CD, which was first person full motion video (another game feature I loved in the 90’s) virtual reality-like sports. You can play basketball through the eyes of the basketball player.

The game wasn’t very good, but it almost seems like we’re closing in on the technological advances to make such a game a reality.

Beyond this, after attending both Oakland Athletics and San Francisco Giants games this past week, I really noted how fast sports is when you see it up close and live. The speed of the game is something you can appreciate, which I don’t get the same feel for watching from the upper decks or on TV. There’s some disconnect and it’s easy to dismiss how good the players really are from far away.

This is especially true with pitching and hitting and baseball. At the Giants game, I was sitting right behind the visitor’s bullpen and could see pitchers throwing up and throwing in the low 90’s. I also had a great angle to see Madisom Bumgarner throw as well. On TV, with the center field camera, it’s easy not to get a feel of how fast these pitches are. But up close, 90’s is extremely fast. And to think how fast a 97 mile per hour fastball could be to a hitter, yikes!

That’s how I was reminded of this recent Businessweek article on GoPro, GoPro Goes Big as a Hybrid Media Company/Videocam Maker.

I’d love to see more footage shown from the hitters’, catcher’s, and umpire’s perspective, so you can get a better feel of what Sergio Romo’s slider looks like and the time you really need to react to a high octane fastball that has just a bit of movement. I want to be able to be fooled while watching live, swinging and missing with my eyeballs. What does  a knuckleball look like when it’s good versus when it’s bad?

I think this is where GoPro can have an impact. You can see some of the potential here:

In these examples, we can tell it’s not quite so perfect yet to get the right angle. But I do think this should be the next evolution in TV coverage. From a financial perspective, it may just feel like another cost to Major League Baseball, and perhaps that is true. it’s also enriching the overall media experience, which is a continued process in competing with other entertainment options. On the other hand, I think it’s a great opportunity for a sponsor like GoPro or another company that wants to sell the technology to mass market consumers (think of baseball players at the youth level). I also think it’s possible to ask fans to pay extra for the content, such as the “All 22” footage that the real NFL coaches go by, not the cropped footage we watch on TV.

Beyond this, I would love to see a slick interface on top of a catcher or umpire’s view video. Imagine getting pitch recognition and speed information from this view. The biggest reason why I like this view is because it reminds me of playing High Heat Baseball for the PC many years ago.

What do you think, would you want footage like this when watching baseball on TV? Let me know your thoughts!

If I am Shown on TV, Why Can’t I Buy a Clip of It? [Business Ideas]

I like to buy personalized experience souvenirs. I know that doesn’t make me special – just go to any tourist spot and see the people who want to sell a photo of you, make a caricature of you with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, etc. You might think of a photo from a camera that flashes when you’re about to go down a steep incline of a scary roller coaster ride.

This applies to sporting events as well. For example, check out this photo taken with me and Mike and Midland at a Golden State Warriors gave nearly 5 years ago:


At the Warriors game, you could have your photo taken, and then see it online for free or purchase a nice large glossy version for a price (probably $10 as I remember) after the game. What could have improved this photo as a souvenir was the date and a game recap (highest scorer, winning team, etc.).

But why can’t you do this for video, when you’re shown on TV? If you are at a sporting event, this could be when the camera pans over your section, you are featured on the kiss-cam, or you catch a foul ball. With so much video being captured now and the relative ease of seat tracking (in sports, it’s normal to follow and track player movements and then capture that activity into data), it should be somewhat easy to know which seats are being shown in each piece of video content. Thus would mean automated, yet new revenue opportunities after the initial investment to set up the sales platform.

I don’t have a sports example of myself, but let’s see this example of my parents on Jimmy Fallon:

(My parents are shown at the end). To get this footage, Jeff watched the show on Hulu and manually recorded the appropriate section. However, for most people, they would never be able to figure this out on their own nor would they have access to the content.

To optimize sales conversion, you would need to track contact information based on seating. Unlike the roller coaster ride, in which I visit the photo booth after I ride and pick photos, there is no easy way to set this up at the ballpark. Instead it would be better if you could email the user or contact the user directly on his/her phone, such as with the official team app. If you have linked your tickets with the team app (you essentially check in), when your seat is recognized as being shown in the video, you would be alerted and then allowed to preview it and purchase the clip directly from the app.

You would not want to ask people to come by at the end of the game as it would be too inconvenient (I want to go home!).

A clip of something nice such as the kiss-cam or interacting with a player will have more relative value and can be tagged at a higher price. Beyond that , delivery can be digital (which is virtually free for the sports team) or can be packaged into a nice gift (think of a San Francisco Giants USB drive). If you are a season ticket fan, perhaps you would be allowed to load up on the drive over multiple uses for no additional cost.

I also think you should be able to purchase a game’s highlights for games that you attend. I like to download games or keep newspapers of games that I attend so it’s easier to remember the experiences that I have seen live. I am not sure if I will ever review them again, but it’s nice to have, and I think fans would enjoy having those collections in both physical and digital formats.

What do you think? Do you enjoy personalized memories? What can sporting teams and events do more to capture revenue beyond ticket and food sales?