Emerging Media in Sports
 
This is my final blog post in the context of class, and one of my final actions as a graduate student. The semester, my final one in the Masters program, comes to a close for me today, and, while the feeling of accomplishment is great, it's also a time for reflection.

Graduate school was kind to me. I learned a lot, made a lot of connections, as well as some wonderful new friends, and gained much insight and perspective into my field. Among the classes that will stick with me was the one I began writing this blog for, Emerging Media.


The class has been a wonderful look at emerging media, though said media is emerging so rapidly that the topic matter has even changed since we began the course! Linda Menck, our instructor for the course, has her finger on the pulse of today's media and technologies, and did a wonderful job not only identifying them to us, but offering us the opportunity to use them hands on, as well as discuss and debate the uses and merits of them.


The class also gave us several knowledgable and insightful guest speakers, including Bill Finn, Phillip Nowak, Tonise Paul, Laura Gainor, and Justin Beck (the last of whose presentation I unfortunately missed). Hearing the opinions and applications of these industry professionals on new media shed a lot of light on the best ways we can harness them ourselves.


Some of my favorite moments- 


1. Final Presentations - The final project for this class was open-ended. We had to do something that concerned emerging media, and that was the only guideline. As a result, the project turned into a personal branding website for some, an audit of their current employer for others, and several other concepts, including research papers and personal portfolios. All of us in the class presented our final projects to the class during the last two weeks of the semester. Given that each project was distinct and personal, being able to see the entire range of class projects was a wonderful experience. Every project had a personal stamp on it, and it was clear that each student had a passion for whatever they chose to work on.


2. Laura Gainor - All of the guest speakers we had were fantastic, but Laura's stood out in particular to me, because of its personal relevance. Laura discussed her use of social media in her (successful) effort to secure a job upon her return to Milwaukee. As this was my final semester at Marquette, my own job search was at the forefront of my mind. Laura's presentation inspired many tactics that I'm using in my own job search, and this presentation also gave me the idea for my own final project, a personal website that showcases the industry-relate work I've done (SHAMELESS PLUG ALERT - www.dannymanson.com!!!).


3. iPad Night - I think we'll all remember the class session where we got to borrow the college's iPads for the night, and simply got to play around with them. The question at hand was, "this is cool but do we need it?" The general consensus was no, we dont' "need" iPads, but they sure are fun to play with! Where else but Emerging Media class can we play iPad soccer games during class?


All in all, this was one of my favorite classes in the two years I was back at Marquette. I will miss my teachers and classmates, but be sure to stay in touch. I'll miss school, but won't miss the graduate school lifestyle, as I'm ecstatic to rejoin "the real world."


As for this blog, I'm not promising to abandon it, but not guaranteeing regular updates either. I wasn't much of a blogger before this class. My one attempt at a sports blog was done a few years ago with some friends. Quite often, I simply forgot I was a part of that blog, and posted very infrequently, so who knows. I will say that if something stands out to me in the world of emerging media and sports, I'll do my best to throw it up one here. In the meantime, check out my personal website, and follow me on Twitter & LinkedIn.


I'll close this by saying that I'm very excited to start the next chapter of my life. My first stop on the journey might only be a few blocks away from grad school (you'll just have to check out my website in a week or two to decipher this one), so this is most certainly not goodbye to my classmates. I hope you enjoyed reading this blog as much as I did writing it.
 
 
This semester, my final one at Marquette, I am doing an independent study to fulfill the requirements for a Certificate in Digital Storytelling to accompany my Masters Degree. The project, which is essentially a Capstone project that showcases the Digital Storytelling tactics and techniques I learned during my two years in grad school, was an open-ended assignment that could be on the topic of my choosing.


I chose to focus my project on Marquette's retiring President, Father Robert A. Wild. Fr. Wild has been the President of Marquette University since 1996, and I first set foot on Marquette's campus in 1998. Since Fr. Wild has been the University's steward for all of my on-again, off-again time with Marquette, I have seen the growth and transformation of the University first-hand. I also had the opportunity to get to know Fr. Wild through various endeavors I was involved with here, and he is a man that I have great respect and admiration for.


The project is a tribute, not only to Fr. Wild, but to the transformation of Marquette during his time. Digital Storytelling  blends multimedia tools to tell a story, and I have culled photos, videos, social media elements, and text narratives to tell the story of Fr. Wild's time at Marquette. The site features an interactive photographic timeline, narratives from several individuals who have worked closely with Fr. Wild (as well as my own reflection), a look back at Marquette's social media reaction the day Fr. Wild retired, and other elements.


Take a moment to check the project out. It is hosted online at http://frwild.weebly.com. Let me know what you think, and feel free to leave your own Marquette memory or Father Wild reflection in the guestbook.
 
 
As a final project for this class, I've been working on dannymanson.com, an online portfolio of my work, primarily in web and graphic design. The site is intended to be a "personal branding" project, linking to my various presences on social media, similar to what class speaker Laura Gainor has done with her own.

As I created the site, however, it took on a bit of a different shape, turning more into a digital resume than anything else. A debate occurred when I presented a draft of the site in class, with some agreeing with the digital resume direction I had taken, and others lobbying for me to return to the personal branding roots, and make the site more of a reflection of my personality.

Ultimately, the site will likely incorporate elements of both a personal brand and a digital resume. If the goal is to get myself employed, I think that highlighting my project work is most important (especially when I'm expecting most visitors to be coming over after linking from my resume, rather than organic new visitors). Eventually, when I don't need the resume aspect as much, I can see the site becoming more of a personal brand site,

Thoughts? Ideas? I'd appreciate them all. In the meantime, dannymanson.com should be up and running by mid-December. Feel free to check it out!
 
 
I've lived in Milwaukee for over 10 years, and over the course of time, managed to adopt the local sports teams as my own. MIssing from our wonderful city, however, is top-level professional hockey. In addition, growing up I lived and died for the New York Rangers. The 1994 Stanley Cup was one of the best sports moments of my life, and I attended the subsequent victory parade. My ties to other teams in New York might not have been as strong, but over the years I managed to maintain a great connection with my Rangers.


I still attend one game a year, whenever I can, usually when I'm back in the City for Thanksgiving. That leaves 81 others to worry about, though. Admittedly, my interest from a distance ebbs and flows based on how competitive the team is, but early on in the year, and come playoff time (when applicable), I find myself looking for way to watch the Blueshirts in action.


The NHL offers a television and online out-of-region package, similar to the MLB Extra Innings TV package I buy every year. While this would solve the problem, I can't justify buying two costly sports packages a year, and the baseball package is precious to me (I generally watch several games a night, whereas with hockey, I probably wouldn't watch too many non-Rangers games).


This leaves online streams as the final option. Always a legal gray area, several websites (which I won't mention or link to- they're easy to find) offer streams of sporting event, generally originating from someone's TV. Thanks to a good samaritan with a fast computer in the NYC area, I'm able to keep up with my team, from 800 miles away.


This year, I took it one step further. I dusted off an old G4 Mac Mini that I had lying around, and connected it to the VGA input on my HDTV. Add in a wireless keyboard and mouse, and I have a fully functional computer, right on the big screen. The G4's an old processor, but most every sporting event I have tried to stream has worked nearly flawlessly. An additional perk is that I have connected an external hard drive to the Mini, and am now streaming my media to any computer in the house (as well as the Apple TV in the bedroom). All in all, it's been a great setup.


As for the legality of the streams, as I said, transmitting the content is certainly a gray area, and occasionally the streams shut down mid-game, leaving me to scramble to find a new one. Viewers, however, are not breaking any rules by simply clicking on a link, and are subjected to the same ads that TV viewers in New York get, so I feel OK doing this, and will gladly continue watch my Rangers hockey as long as I can.
 
 
Earlier in the semester, I blogged about ESPN3 coming to Time Warner Cable. This transition has occurred, and Milwaukee residents can now enjoy a wealth of sports programming right on their computer screen. I mentioned that a subsequent update of the XBox Live interface would also bring ESPN3 access to XBox 360 game console owners. This has come as well, and after a month or so of tinkering with it, I'm blown away.


The picture the 360 delivers for ESPN3 content is great. I would say better than the picture on my computer monitor (a 22" HD screen), but not quite as good as the HD cable picture from ESPN. Still, far better than passable. In addition, I have yet to experience any lag or picture freezing.


All of the content that ESPN makes available online can be found on the XBox, and the interface has been customized to better match the standard XBox one. In addition, users can quickly, with the flick of the controller, bring up an up-to-the minute score ticker, that can even be used to channel surf from game to game.


Online television is clearly changing the way we view our programming, and ESPN3 has transitioned this into sports. Now that the XBox allows for a user to access the online programming from their big-screen TV, programming options are limitless, and sports viewing might never be the same.
 
 
The social media prodigies at Marquette Athletics have done it again.

Last week I blogged about the "Tweet Team" that Marquette created to tweet during basketball games. While there is no metric for how successful this has been so far in the young season, all things appear to be running smoothly.

MU raised their own social media bar at the last game: At various points in the game, fans' tweets that used the #mubb hashtag that was created for Marquette Basketball appeared on the ginormous new Bradley Center scoreboard, pictured below.

The Bradley Center's new 'board is massive, to say the least, and the increased space and HD screen allows for all sorts of new utilizations in-game or during timeouts.

MU is placing the tweets at the bottom of the scoreboard, appearing periodically during games. The graphic is unobtrusive to those watching the action on the video screen, and the tweets are clearly hand-chosen, to ensure that the most insightful (and non-vulgar) tweets are the ones that are broadcasted to the thousands in attendance at the Bradley Center. Of course, the Twitter user name of the tweet-creator is listed as well, ensuring that credit is given where it is due.

This is, in my opinion, a PHENOMENAL idea, and a great utilization of social media in-game, without being overly in the face of fans. Keep up the good work, Marquette!
Picture
 
 
As the Marquette Basketball season begins this week, the University athletics department is trying something new. Marquette has put together a "Tweet Team" of fans, both students and alumni season ticket holders, who tweet often about Marquette Basketball during games.

The 20 or so fans that the department chose will have their in-game tweets aggregated in some form of list on Marquette Athletics' website. The goal of the idea is to bring the atmosphere of the Bradley Center - not just the stats and games, but everything that's going on in the building too - to fans unable to attend, through the Tweet Team,

This is surely a novel idea, and should be a nice addition to the website, but I wonder how well it will work. For starters, many of those passionate enough about Marquette Basketball to welcome something like this likely will either be at the game themselves, or watching on TV, and not in front of a computer. I also wonder how many tweets we will actually see from the Tweet Team. I passed on the opportunity to be involved in this project, as I am usually too focused on the games as they are going on, and don't think about tweeting. I'd say I average zero to two tweets per game, dependent on how close the game is (I can't even talk during close games).

Either way, it's an opportunity to expose Marquette fans who aren't on Twitter to the tweets of fans, and a very low-cost and low-risk campaign for MU Athletics, who always seem to be on the cutting edge when it comes to so
 
 
The NCAA is sitting on a gold mine.

Recently, college sports' governing entity made many postseason games in various sports available on DVD through its NCAA On Demand store. In addition, an ongoing project is digitizing some events for free online viewing in the NCAA Vault. Currently, the Vault features NCAA Basketball tournaments, from the Sweet 16 round through the championship, from 2000 to the present.

The ability to track down that special game and relive the glory is a great notion. I have my own collection of about 75 Marquette games, primarily from the past ten seasons, and at certain times, a classing MU game is just the ticket.

The NCAA would be wise to expand this offering to include as much of its archive as possible. While having free access to Marquette's 2003 tournament run is nice, I'd love to be able to call up games from "before my time," and I'd willingly pay a nominal fee to do so.

As for DVD's, there are certain games that I would love to acquire on DVD. The 1974 NCAA Final Four, Doc Rivers' buzzer beater against Notre Dame in 1981, and the 1994 NCAA tournament win over Kentucky come to mind quickly. I'm sure there are similar fans to me at virtually every school in the country that would love to see their classic basketball, football, baseball, and other sporting events as well.

Turner Broadcasting's new contract with the NCAA includes the digital rights management of NCAA content. Hopefully, having an experienced broadcasting company at the helm will lead to this expansion, and we can revel in the glory of our scho
 
 
One of the rapidly expanding elements of sports media is mobile coverage. Sports fans can use their phones to access news & information, team reports, and even live television & radio coverage more than ever. Here's a quick look at some of the sports elements I'm using on my own phone, a Google Android device on the Verizon network.


NFL, NHL, MLB, & NBA Official Apps - 


The four major professional sports leagues have all entered the mobile app arena. As a Verizon Wireless customer, the NFL and NHL apps stand out in particular, as they have exclusive contracts with the carrier.


The NFL Mobile app, exclusive to Verizon, is a free application. In addition to live game trackers and a news feed, the app offers VCAST Video subscribers 24/7 coverage of the NFL Network, and live broadcast of the NFL Red Zone channel, which whips through coverage of live games on Sundays, as well as the Sunday Night NBC game, live on your phone. This live telecast feature is great for a fantasy football junkie like myself, and I'm paying the extra few bucks a month for VCAST during the NFL season just for that. Video quality is pretty good, and there are very few hiccups in the broadcast, even with my outdated Droid Eris phone.


The NHL app is similar in design to the NFL one, also exclusive to Verizon and with a similar feature set. The difference here is that live broadcast of hockey games is not contained in the VCAST package (VCAST subscribers do get free audio broadcasts), but available for an extra fee, in the neighborhood of $80 for the entire 2010-11 season. This is a pretty steep price for the ability to watch games on a small phone screen, especially when broadband Internet coverage of games is available for a little over $100.


The MLB and NBA apps are not specific to Verizon. The NBA app, despite a somewhat clunky interface, does a great job of tracking games live, with full up-to-the-minute stats available for every NBA game. A $10 a month premium, that I happily paid, allows for audio broadcasts of all NBA games. An additional $50, a much more reasonable price, gives access to all video broadcasts of NBA games. A flaw in this feature- Local games (wherever your phone is at the time) are blacked out. I think mobile access is a great resource for people who might be away from home but in town when their local team plays, and not being able to pull up the game on their phone defeats the purpose for most potential subscribers. I know that I would consider forking over the money, if I could watch the Bucks on my phone while in Milwaukee. The video service is also available as part of the NBA's "Three Point Play" package, which gives users TV, Internet, and mobile access to all (non-blacked out) games for one price.


The MLB app is, in my opinion, the best designed of the bunch. A crisp, easy to navigate interface offeres game tracking, news, and plenty of social media options. Unfortunately, this is the only official app without a free version, but the $15 per season fee is reasonable, and includes audio broadcasts of every game, and on the iPhone, video broadcast of one game per day (Major League Baseball chooses the offered game, this feature is allegedly coming to other smartphones next season). A nice perk here is that subscribers to MLB.tv, the Internet broadcast package, can access video of all games, not just the MLB-chosen contest.


VCAST-

Verizon's VCAST Video service has an ever-growing library of sports offerings. The video service has archived clips viewable on demand from ESPN, FOX Sports, CBS, and other sports entities. In addition, VCAST broadcasts selected college football, hockey, and other sporting events (including last summer's World Cup) live, as well as the NFL broadcasts mentioned above. $10 per month is the premium for this, but if you use your phone to access a lot of video content (VCAST offers much beyond the realm of sports, including archived episodes of many current TV shows), this is not a high price to pay. I'm paying it right now for the NFL offerings, and will probably suspend it at the conclusion of the football season, but that is more a function of not using my phone to access vidoe to often, rather than my not being pleased with the service.


Third Party Offerings-

The beauty of smartphones is, as micro-computers, they allow for a limitless development of apps. Many developers are creating sports-related apps (some officially endorsed by their respective leagues or teams, some not), that allow users to access news, scores, information, and in some cases, audio and video of their favorite sports teams. As a result, sports fans can get the information they need on-the-go. This amazes me, as I think back to my childhood, and having to wait until the next morning's newspaper to get out of town scores. The mobile age has been kind to the sports world, and I look forward to what else is yet to come.
 
 
I'm doing a project for my Quantitative Research Methods class this semester on Twitter use by sports teams, and its effect on fan identification. In other words, teams are using Twitter to communicate with fans at an unprecedented level, and fans are feeling a more personal connection to their teams as a result (at least that's my hypothesis).

On a personal level, I've been keeping an eye on how my own favorite teams are utilizing Twitter. Marquette's athletic department has been a pioneer in social media innovation, and the Marquette Twitter account is a great resource for up-to-date Marquette athletics news and information, as well as links to media stories about the MU teams. Marquette also uses their Twitter as a vehicle to communicate with fans personally.

Craig Pintens, Marquette's former Director of Marketing, is now at LSU, and has essentially built a social media empire down in Louisiana. Craig comments on LSU Athletics through his own Twitter account, and manages individual Twitter accounts for all the University's teams, including football and basketball. Individual Facebook pages exist for the teams as well.


On the professional level, my Milwaukee Bucks have what seems to be one of the more active Twitter accounts, engaging in personal communication with many fans, as well as providing in-game updates and news in between games. The Bucks also do a great job of using Twitter to announce ticket promotions and other special events.


Clearly, teams are doing a great job of taking advantage of the wonderful marketing resource that Twitter provides. As time goes by, sports marketing professionals are devising new ways to use Twitter as a vehicle to market their teams. It will be interesting to see what direction this concept goes over time, as the practice is honed even further.