February 9, 2010

Streaming Sports: Superbowls, Olympics, and Online Video

If you live in America, you probably did not miss out on the constant chatter about the Superbowl this past weekend, whether you were paying attention to the football or the commercials. Nevertheless, you might not have watched the actual event -- like myself, who was on a bus from New York to Boston throughout the duration of the pre-, in-, and post-game periods. However, I followed the by-the-moment hype of the sport and the advertisements on my phone's Twitter client, and the morning after I caught up on the game highlights and commercials (rated and organized by social media addicts via services like BrandBowl 2010).

Even though the Bowl lasted at least 4 hours, I feel like I didn't miss much after spending about 40 minutes rewatching -- for no fee -- game highlights and the Bowl's funnier commercials. Watching this content via the Web is not something I could have done a few years ago. The potentials of online video have created an environment in which I don't need to own a television. I can simply flip to to watch a 10-minute recap of the best plays while spending the time it takes to wait through's ads watching the previous day's commercials on Hulu's 2010 AdZone. I can even jump over to the Discovery Channel's website to watch the annual Puppy Bowl.

However, I still need to own a television set to watch everything. What gives? I thought this was the Age of the Internet, where all content would be beamed to my computer screen through my Apple TV (no, I don't actually own one). The situation for most television shows at the moment is that I can see most episodes online at some point in time, until they are removed (producers need to make some money off DVD sales, and online ad revenues are still nowhere comparable to those of television ads). But sports events are pretty hard to come by for free online. Occasionally we will find a hub of clips (eg.,, or we can subscribe to a subscription service which grants access to high-quality streams (eg.,

Why? Well, while most networks are feeling the heat, sports are still bringing in all the viewers.

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April 17, 2008

MIT Art Work-Out: John Bell and the Celtics' Lucky

In addition to my presentation on the history of professional wrestling in the U.S. as part of the Art Work-Out Lecture Series event on "The Theater of Sport," I was joined at the event by John Bell, a professor here at MIT who is also known as a puppeteer, as well as an historian of puppet theater. He is author of such books as Strings, Hands, Shadows: A Modern Puppet History and the forthcoming American Puppet Modernism.

I had heard about John's work, but I had never gotten the chance to meet him. John introduced and interviewed Damon Lee Blust, famed for his impressive dunks at Boston basketball games in recent years in his role as Lucky, mascot of the Celtics. Lucky is the only "human mascot," with no large outfit, allowing him to perform more athletic feats.

Turns out, building off my talk about pro wrestling as "sports entertainment," and prepared completely independent from my presentation, John and Damon talked about the work of a mascot also as sports entertainment.

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April 6, 2008

PCA/ACA: Louis Bosshart, Sports, and Celebrity Culture

One of my most intriguing PCA/ACA friendships struck up over a complete accident. My first year at the PCA, in San Antonio, we had a paper added to our panel at the last minute. Dr. Louis Bosshart, from Switzerland's University of Fribourg (or Freiburg in German), had missed his regular panel and joined a panel otherwise on pro wrestling to discuss his work on what television did and does to sports. I remember that he was intrigued by the fact that I had notes on one index card rather than reading a paper as many people do at these academic panels, and we struck up a conversation afterward.

The conversation turned into an e-mail exchange, and hopes at creating a collaborative project on looking further at how televising sports fundamentally changes the way the competition is structured. In particular, pro wrestling can be seen as an extreme of the importance of mediation in athletic demonstration, because pro wrestling has adapted itself for the spectator to the point it is no longer a competition at all, or at least not in the traditional sports sense. I soon moved to Boston for the Program in Comparative Media Studies at MIT, and Louis came to town once and we discussed the project further, but it never got out of the "ideation" phase.

We used San Francisco as the opportunity to strike the conversation up again.

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September 19, 2007

Take the DS Out to the Ballgame

A future look at an innovative marketing approach for fans is being tested this year at Seattle's Safeco Field.

The Nintendo DS is going to change the way we attend sporting events and participate as a fan.

The deal was struck as part of Nintendo of America's majority ownership of the Seattle Mariners, but it shows the ways in which technologies can be used for a variety of purposes, in this case using a Nintendo device not just for video games, but as an audience participant of live sporting games as well.

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