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#TBT

#TBT: The ABA — Failing to Greatness

Happy #TBT. To celebrate, we’re sharing an oldie-but-goodie post from Jim: The ABA -- Failing to Greatness. Who remembers the American Basketball Association? I do, hazily. It folded when the highlight of my week was still Count Chocula in front of Saturday cartoons, but I have vague memories, or maybe just memories of evidence of the existence of the ABA: a cover of an old Sports Illustrated or a red, white and blue basketball with Dr. J’s signature on it. Not...

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Fans

Full Buildings Drive Everything

Success carries within it the seed of failure. The things that make something strong also make it vulnerable to future decline. The sports industry has a problem, and I feel obligated to point it out. Just as a few years ago, I identified some problems that the NFL was about to experience. I see structural problems for all major sports developing. On the one hand, things have never been better. The money and attention have never been greater. The NBA is...

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Innovation

If You’re Still Not Willing to Get Serious About Getting Outside the Four Walls of Your Venue

The old-fashioned mindset of “protecting” the live experience by making it as unavailable to anybody not present in the building at the time of the event doesn’t work. What it does is prevent people from being able to participate, which prevents them from caring, which prevents them from being a fan or supporter. This isn’t a theory. The sports guys know this. Imagine a world where you could only see an NBA game live. It’s been demonstrated by the National...

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Fans

Perception Revision Time: Hockey Is Hot!

Not that many years ago, the NHL had a catastrophic lockout, losses were huge, contraction of the number of teams was looming and there was a small but existent chance that the league wouldn’t make it. The entire 2004-2005 season was canceled, and if you’d asked me then, I’d have said the NHL would survive, but it would fall off the “top shelf” of professional sports leagues in the U.S. I’d have been wrong. With 15 teams averaging 100% attendance or...

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News

Pay-For-Streaming: A Slam Dunk For Growing Your Audience

The NBA is experiencing hiccups with the launch of its pay-for-streaming service, but in time they’ll be resolved. Pretty soon, all the major sports will be available for streaming, and people will be paying for the privilege. This will make it even more conspicuous that non-sports live entertainment is on the sidelines. Streaming earns you currency of two kinds: actual currency, as in money; and the currency of people’s attention. If you’ve only got their attention while the patron is attending...

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Marketing

You Can’t Kill Demand for a Product by Giving It to More People

Imagine professional basketball as a business that’s exactly the same as it is now, except that you couldn’t watch a game if you weren’t in the stadium when the game happened. Would it make the live product more valuable? Would the teams suddenly make a fortune charging for tickets, merchandise, food and beverages? Or, would it be a business constantly flirting with financial disaster, looking for ways to “build its audience”? Bet on the latter. With live competition alone, the NBA...

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Marketing

NBA GMs Like Miami Heat’s LeBron James Because He Fills Seats

GMs go with Heat, LeBron James. Note to sports ticket marketers: Maybe one of the reasons NBA GMs like LeBron so much is that he brings them buyers. When the Heat (LeBron’s team) go on the road, the team they’re visiting sells 99.1% of its tickets.

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