December 30, 2006
Fox Sports to Make Championship Bowl Games Available Online

Sports fandom has driven a lot of new attempts at marketing and distribution to get content to fans in the ways those fans want it. The latest decision is to make bowl games available online.

The first of these bowl games, which will be launched by Fox Sports, will be on New Year's Day, when the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic will be available through simulcast for free.

The games that will be made available online are all part of the college football Bowl Championship Series. After the initial free simulcast of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Game, the plan is to offer full-length games after they have been completed for $2.99 through sites such as Apple iTunes, Amazon's Unbox and Fox outlets Direct2Drive and Fox Sports on MSN.

Highlight packages and preview shows will be available for $1.99, or fans can purchase the whole series as a package for $19.99 or a specific bowl game's package for $6.99.

Sports content has been a frontrunner in new online frontiers and is expected to be a major driving force in the growing popularity of mobile content, as I wrote about earlier this month, with the prediction that sports content will jump from $1 billion in revenue for mobile platforms now to $3.8 billion in five years.

And ACC Select provides sports content for Athletic Coast Conference fans for sports that are not made available through television broadcast. I wrote about ACC Select back in October, "As the idea of 'broadcasting' is further eroded by the popularity of supplying niche programming, situations like this become more and more likely. While most schools with successful sports enterprises might only get basketball or football or perhaps baseball picked up by local affiliates or national cable sports channels, these online spaces become popular distribution mechanisms for other sports."

In this case, the bowl games will be made available through traditional television viewing, but this cross-distribution allows for additional content like previews and highlights, as well as an alternate platform on which to view the game and also a way to time shift viewing of the game easily.

Further, the package option gives fans assurance that they will get to view all the content surrounding the Bowl Championship Series.

Of course, while the simulcast idea might drive sports viewing, the long-standing assumption about sports fans is that they only want to watch games live. How will archives of sports games hold up? Do they lose value after the liveness of the game is over?