Ticket Perfection Strikes Back

Posted by Alex Dalenberg in Uncategorized on 09-14-11    No Comments


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So a while back I posted on a service called Ticket Perfection which lets sports fans insure their tickets against blowouts. Basically, if the final score is lopsided beyond a certain threshold, the insured will get at least some money back — potentially all of it — depending on how much ticket insurance they purchased.

My first impression: not a service I think I would use. More to the point, I called it a rip-off.

Needless to say, the entrepreneurs over at Ticket Perfection weren’t thrilled with my admittedly harsh assessment and you can check out the company’s complete response at the end of the original post.

Basically, to refute my perception that insuring every game wouldn’t be worth it because you’d be shelling out so much money in ticket insurance, Ticket Perfection’s data shows that, if you went to every NFL game played by a particular team last season, and fully insured your ticket for each game, the majority of fans would make money back.

Ticket Perfection’s Eric Brancaccio told us in an email that, in laying out its service, the company has built something of an actuarial table showing blowout margins and the price of insurance.

Of course, in this case, if you can actually afford to attend every NFL game — including road games — I can’t imagine you’re that concerned with getting your money back on ticket insurance.  But Brancaccio says the service makes just as much sense for the ordinary fan who goes to to one or two games a year, although, in my mind, you’re reducing your probability of a blowout that way.

But for Brancaccio, the point isn’t so much in making money using the service, it’s addressing the fact that, when you buy a ticket to a sporting event, on some level you don’t really know what you’re paying for.

“We don’t see Ticket Perfection as a money making vehicle although as our numbers show it can be. We truly believe that generally a closer contest is a better experience for the fan than a lopsided one even if our home team is putting a beatdown on a bitter rival. The crux of our service is based around addressing how a fixed price ticket can yield either a thrilling game or a boring one.”

Brancaccio also added that most users choose to insure their tickets for smaller amounts, as low as 2.5 percent of ticket price which would yield 25 percent refund in case of a blowout.

So, if the principle of potentially shelling out money for what ends up being a crappy game is something that’s important to you, you could probably do worse than give Ticket Perfection a try.

Just keep in mind, you’re pretty much straight up gambling on the outcome of the event. So you’re just going to have to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Or I guess since you could be watching a blowout it might better to ask yourself: Do I not feel lucky?




Pimp Out Your Tailgate Party

Posted by Anthony Mowl in ALL, EQUIPMENT, STADIUM on 09-07-11    No Comments


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It was a long and miserable football-free spring and summer for me, but the season is finally here. I plan to attend a few NFL games this year, and tailgating is more than half of the experience for me. I like to arrive at the parking lots as soon as the gates open, and leave the game early to beat traffic if the game turns out to be a snooze-fest. The tailgate party makes the experience for me.

While most of my tailgating parties simply involve beer and liquor, with a side of potato salad, there is a whole lot of gear that you can bring along with you to create the ultimate tailgating experience. Satellite dishes, mobile wi-fi hot spots and flat screen TVs just scratch the surface of what people are bringing to games these days.

Dish Network just came out with a new “Tailgater Antenna” which is a compact 10-pound dish designed for tailgating. The antenna comes in at a cool $350 with an HD receiver option. They allow you to activate your antenna for as little as $7 a month during the season. And now that the Dish Network carries the MLB Network, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the fall overlap of football and baseball.  If you’re not crazy about lugging along a generator to plug in all these things, you can just find a parking spot near the big-screen TVs found in many tailgating lots, or piggy back off a neighboring party.

While people have been tailgating with televisions and satellite dishes for years, there is still new, geeked-out stuff you can bring without having to put up with the chugging of a generator. Play with an RC remote-controlled beer cooler on wheels and cart around your beer with a grown-up version of a remote-controlled car. Add Brookstone’s Grill Alert Talking Remote Meat Thermometer to help you cook your burgers, and you can keep your eyes on one of several fantasy football apps on your iPad or mobile phone without burning the meat.

I’m personally wary of bringing high-end electronics to an outdoor party packed with drunk and sometimes out-of-control people. Not to mention leaving them in my car while I’m inside a stadium for several hours (both the high-end electronics and the drunk passed-out people). I doubt I’ll ever pimp out my tailgate party with satellites and televisions. But I have no problem visiting your parking space and catching the pregame shows. You bring the gas for your generator, and I’ll bring the beer for your trouble.




Getting Scammed By Live Streaming For One Low Price!

Posted by Anthony Mowl in ALL, INTERNET, MOBILE on 09-01-11    No Comments


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Why pay over $100 per month for cable or satellite tv services? No subscriptions or monthly fees, no hardware, no bandwidth limits! You get over 3,500 channels and unlimited 24/7 access. You should cancel your cable now, and get < insert scam here >.

We’ve all seen or heard of sites like this. Many of them promote live streaming of baseball and football games for one low cost. Satellite Direct, LiveBaseball-Channel, GigStreams… there are a lot of these sites out there. Unfortunately almost none of them work, guaranteed or no money back.

This guy shelled out $49 to try Satellite Direct, and all he got was the opportunity to make a YouTube video demonstrating what a fraud the site was. Beware of spending what seems to be one low price, and downloading software that has who-knows-what in the code. Among the red flags of these sites’ promotions is the total absence of league names and logos like MLB, NFL, NBA. No schedule of games exist, and yet people jump at the line “Watch more than just sports – thousands of extra channels free!” We all know the adage, if it’s too good to be true…

Adding to these sites’ “legitimacy” is the fact that they’ve created countless blogs, reviews, and postings that all claim that these sites are amazing and worth the money. But a dig a little deeper into these blogs and reviews and you find… nothing else. Even a search for “LiveBaseball-Channel Scam” is populated with the same fake blogs and reviews. Talk about search engine optimization.

To watch games online, go straight to the source. The guys at the league offices are such hard-asses when it comes to copyrighted content that there’s no way they’d let sites like LiveBaseball-Channel fly.

Get your games streamed online at:

MLB.TV ($100-$120 a year for 2,400 games)
NFL Sunday Ticket To-Go ($49.95 for 256 games)
NBA League Pass Broadband ($149.95 for 1,230 games)




Watch Baseball While Eating In-Flight Peanuts

Posted by Anthony Mowl in ALL, INTERNET, MOBILE, TELEVISION, Uncategorized on 08-31-11    No Comments


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Baseball fans have less excuses to miss or reschedule flights now that some airlines have committed to showing all 2,400 Major League Baseball games live and in-flight. Row 44 is a developer of flying wi-fi hotspots on Southwest Airlines and other major airlines in Europe. While Row 44′s partnership with the MLB AdvancedMedia appears to be exclusive, it’s unclear if Southwest has an exclusive hold on Row 44 in the U.S. as well.

Since it seems as if Row 44 inked an exclusive agreement with baseball (a la DirectTV and the NFL), hardcore baseball fans might start scheduling all their spring through fall flights on Southwest. But is this really something to be excited about or simply a marketing gimmick? Fans who really can’t make it through a few hours on a plane without their baseball are probably already subscribing to MLB’s online package, MLB.TV, which they can access on any flight that has wi-fi. It’s likely that Row 44′s baseball games won’t be free, making this “exclusive deal” simply a good press release.

Beyond that, anyone who has used wi-fi aboard a flight knows that service is typically slow, and streaming video is rarely very effective. But then again, baseball isn’t as fast-paced as a basketball or football game, so streaming baseball just might work out.




Dome Sweet Dome Again For The Vikings

Posted by Seth in STADIUM on 08-27-11    No Comments


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As I write, they are playing football in Minnesota. And they’re doing it under a roof.

Personally, I think folks in the Twin Cities should figure out a way to build the Vikings a new open-air stadium because there was nothing like Vikes games late in the season, in the freezing cold, at the old Metropolitan Stadium. But the fact that the Vikings are back on the field at the Metrodome is considered an accomplishment in Minnesota after the roof collapsed under the weight of heavy snow last December.

They put up a new roof and inflated it over the summer. It’s made out of higher grade teflon and fiberglass than the old roof. Interestingly, they hired the same company that installed the old roof to put in the new one — Birdair Inc., of Amherst, N.Y. They built this new roof to be a little more sturdy and sit a little lower than the old one, which should make it more resistant to high wind.

And just in case you’re nostalgic you can buy a piece of the fallen teflon. Who doesn’t want that?

 

 




Sporting News Today Is Logging Off

Posted by Seth in Uncategorized on 08-27-11    No Comments


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The ongoing saga of t

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he Sporting News and its struggle for survival continued this week with word that they plan to cease publication of Sporting News Today, a digital daily that never did gain any traction.

Full disclosure, I did some freelance work for the Sporting News several years ago, when it was still publishing its print magazine weekly, as it did for most of its 125-year history. The magazine publishes every other week now. Count me among the many sports media types who have a soft spot for it. I remember the Sporting News when it was a weekly tabloid on newsprint, full of the previous week’s baseball box scores. But times have changed and the venerable brand has had difficulty changing with them.

Sporting News Today debuted as a free publication. Then they decided to start charging money for it. Problem is, there wasn’t enough compelling content in it to make it worth paying for. They did try to innovate. They launched an iPad app — word to the wise, you don’t want to buy it now. They partnered with Comcast to create localized editions for the areas where Comcast operates regional sports TV networks.

But the product was loaded down with AP stories and box scores that you can get for free almost anywhere on the web. It did have daily stories from Sporting News staff, just not enough of them. And nothing that screamed, “Read Me!” The Sporting News has tried to stick close to its longtime brand identity: a little bit about a lot of teams and sports. But at a time when all of that information is available elsewhere, a different route is necessary. Look at what Yahoo Sports has done — an online operation that has developed into one of the most relevant sources for investigative and breaking sports news.

The takeaway here is actually a positive one for folks in the media business — namely, content is still king. If the material is compelling, buzz-worthy — hell, I’ll say it, interesting enough to generate chatter on Facebook and Twitter — then people will read. Being unique and provocative is what it takes to survive. Sporting News Today was neither of those things.

Sporting News told subscribers it plans a free “personalized” digital daily product coming in September. We’ll have to wait and see what that means. But in the meantime it seems like another blow for a once-grand old sports brand.




Coming Up With More Things To Ban

Posted by Anthony Mowl in EQUIPMENT on 08-25-11    2 Comments


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So the next conference of “Stuff-to-be-banned” is happening next week in Melbourne, Australia. Who can forget the now-banned Speedo LZR full-body swimsuits that broke 43 world records in a single World Championships? Now scientists of the type who came up with the LZR are coming back for seconds at the Asia-Pacific Congress on Sports Technology.

Be on the lookout for new world records and banned products in kayaking, badminton, and cycling with workshops next week on:

  • Instrumentation of a kayak paddle to investigate blade/water interactions
  • Aerodynamic properties of a shuttlecock with spin at high Reynolds number
  • Fabric testing for cycling skinsuits

And in the ultimate example of finding a way around the word no, you can attend “An evaluation of swimsuit performance,” and “Microstructures an aerodynamics of commercial swimsuits.” Or how about we tinker with swimming some more so we can break some more world records just for the sake of taking the athlete out of the sport, and have scientists come up with a new starting block? You can check out “The effect of start block configuration and swimmer kinematics on starting performance in elite swimmers using the Omega OSB11 block.”

While scientific research in general is important, I can hardly see how putting bright minds together to improve kayak paddles or swimsuits is going to help the world. A new shuttlecock? Seriously? Do we really need these things? Another golf ball that goes further (A study of golf ball aerodynamic drag), or a newer soccer ball (Aerodynamics of contemporary FIFA soccer balls) sounds to me like excuses to get people to buy more stuff. What’s wrong with the balls we have now? They’re round enough, aren’t they? There’s plenty of work to be done in regards to global warming, efficient energy, or making a tablet computer that could actually compete with the iPad. Or how about we help Matt Damon out and get some clean water to Africa?

With conventions like this and scientists working on these projects, it looks like we’re getting to the point where instead of going to a sporting event, I might as well just rent a movie. At least a good movie can be less predictable than sports have become.




Geocaching: A Parent’s Worst Nightmare?

Posted by Anthony Mowl in GAMING on 08-25-11    5 Comments


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Won’t anybody please think of the children? Geocaching sounds like a harmless enough activity that encourages family time. Until you realize that parents are giving their kids a kiddie-GPS and encouraging them to get lost in the woods looking for buried treasure. Is it just me or does this sound really dangerous? As if we don’t have enough nut jobs out there waiting for an opportunity. Not only are companies selling geocaching tools for children, but elementary schools are sanctioning this with geocaching clubs. Geocaching clubs can be found on every academic level, from elementary school through college.

I can only see two possible ways this is going to turn out. Either geocaching is going to be relegated to “Chess Club” status, and these kids are going to be set up to be picked on and teased by the jocks. Or it’s going to grow into a competitive sport and we’ll have kids taking Adderall and other performance enhancing drugs to become extreme geocachers and dig up caches for scholarships. Either way, it doesn’t end well.

In this post-9/11 world, we don’t need more reasons to get kids in trouble with such an open-ended game with no boundaries. This guy found out the hard way when he got arrested for hiding a geocache under a bridge, and the police found it and thought was a bomb. Or how about the couple that’s wanted for questioning after digging up a geocache planted on school property? Let’s keep our kids on a field that’s fenced in, or if you insist on having your kids trek through the woods, be good parents and accompany them. There’s enough crap in this world as it is.

 




Blowout Insurance: Do We Need This?

Posted by Alex Dalenberg in Uncategorized on 08-25-11    2 Comments


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If you’ve ever walked o

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ut of an arena after a 30-point blowout feeling like you’ve been ripped off,  then I’ve got a startup for you.

Seriously.

Ticket Perfection sells “ticket insurance” to protect consumers against the scourge of lopsided games by providing refunds to customers if their game is decided by more than a certain number of points.

Here’s how it works. Purchasers can insure their tickets for up to 100 percent of their original purchase by paying 10 percent of the value they’d like to insure. Let’s say you purchase a $100 ticket, but you want to get all your money back in case your team gets utterly embarrassed. For $10 you can insure the entire value of the ticket.

Of course, if it’s what Ticket Perfection defines as a good game, then you’re out $10. Where oh where to begin?

For one thing, money-wise this makes no sense. The Ticket Perfection blowout standard is pretty steep. More than 23 points for NBA and NFL game, 8 runs for Major League Baseball, and more than 3 goals for the NHL and Major League Soccer. If you’re going to a lot of games, buying insurance for each game is probably to far exceed whatever you’re getting back, which to me means its worth it just to eat the cost for crappy games, you know, like sports fans have done since their were turnstiles. For single game tickets, they’re expensive enough as it is, why tack on an extra $10 or $20 for something that isn’t a sure thing.

Ticket insurance isn’t actually a new phenomenon. Ticket Master offers its own insurance plans in case you get sick or otherwise miss your event. That’s not crazy, especially for big ticket items or people whose schedules can change from minute-to-minute.

But, for a sports startup, Ticket Perfection seems to be missing some important facets of the whole sports thing. First you’ve got to agree with Ticket Perfection when they say “We believe that the quality of any sporting event is determined by the whether or not the score is close.”

I’d say that depends on who’s getting blown out. If you hate the Yankees, you’re probably inclined to believe that the quality of any sporting event is determined by how many runs the Yankees lose by.

Also, there’s something inherently entertaining in the act of sport. Blake Griffin plays for the friggin’ L.A. Clippers. No doubt he’s made a few ridiculous jams in some hopeless games.

Or, if you’d like a more historical analogy. Let’s consider March 2, 1962. The Philadelphia Warriors blow out the New York Knicks 169-147. That’s not quite the 23-point threshold but it’s still a blowout. Also, Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points.

What a rip off.




Geocaching: A Souped Up Scavenger Hunt

Posted by Anthony Mowl in GENERAL, Uncategorized on 08-22-11    No Comments


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Imagine a scavenger hunt on steroids. I’m talking the full-blown, Barry Bonds, race horse stuff. Now imagine 1,300 people came together to form 600 teams and started looking for stuff.  Put the two together, and we get one of the biggest geocaching games around.

Geocaching is the ultimate event for geeks who want to imagine they’re pirates, or families who want some bonding time.

Geocachers use GPS technology to look for hidden caches. Clues are GPS coordinates that get you within 30 feet of the hidden cache. Once you find the hidden trove, players sign in, get the next coordinates, and follow their GPS to the next cache and clue. Some geocache games require miles of hiking to get to the cache, which can be cleverly hidden where even GPS coordinates wouldn’t be enough. Then there’s Extreme Geocache, where caches can be hidden under bridges, inside caves, and in the water accessible only with SCUBA gear.

Geocaching has only been around since 2000 when GPS technology was made available to the masses, and has since grown to become a popular and entertaining sport. Although prize money and sponsorships haven’t gotten to the point where players can consider themselves professionals, people are traveling far, even to other countries, to participate in geocaching events.

Ironically, while this sport is enabled by technology like GPS, a fuzzy and not-so-accurate GPS makes the game more challenging. If GPS improves and becomes capable of pinpointing locations to the square foot, then most of the fun would probably be sucked out of it. We’re currently in the GPS’ capabilities “sweet spot” of close, but not needle-in-a-haystack-accurate, which keeps geocaching fun and challenging — unless people start hiding caches in tall buildings, trees, in the water, or under several feet of sand.

Or how about we use geocaching to help the Carolina Panthers find the end zone? Now that would be a fun and impossible thing to watch. But as long as GPS technology is only accurate within 30 feet, that would still leave them 10 yards short of the end zone to fumble around.