Sunday, June 26, 2011

Lazy Sunday # 175: Football Cops

Last week, BellMedia, owner of CTV, TSN and 26 other Canadian broadcasters, turned up at the CRTC hearings on vertical integration in the media.

They spent most of their time making themselves giddy over how all-powerful they were becoming and at how holding onto exclusive control of all their content over all manner of media platforms was the only way to achieve world domination -- er -- a bright future for Canadian culture.

And in the process, they revealed that they don't have the first clue about how vertical integration works.

No matter how smart these guys think say are, they didn't think up "Football Cops".

football cops

"Football Cops" stars NFL quarterback brothers, Payton and Eli Manning, both still earning millions calling plays for the Indianapolis Colts and New York Giants respectively.

And although they remain foes on the gridiron, they now stand shoulder to shoulder in a new series about street cops with a difference.

No, not psychic powers or impossible intellectual skills. A REAL difference!

As characters Mike Tahoe and C.J. Hunter, the brothers play former pro-quarterbacks, both raised as orphans in a home for wayward boys, who returned to the mean streets of their youth to "give something back" to the community. 

Clear-eyed and dedicated, they take on violent criminals, street gangs and international drug cartels armed with nothing more than a football.

I'm sure the American Prime-Time programming buyers for CTV are kicking themselves for not being able to get their hands on "Football Cops". But there's a reason for that…

It's the exclusive content of DirecTV and the National Football League, an inspired marketing campaign to sell subscriptions to DirecTV's "NFL Sunday Ticket" access to every single NFL football game every Sunday for the entire season. A service this American version of a BDU (cable/satellite company) offers "AT NO EXTRA CHARGE" with the added caveat -- "Get every game every Sunday on your TV, computer, cellphone or iPad".

Canadian readers of that last paragraph probably felt like they stepped into some alternate fantasy universe the moment a BDU ad included the words "at no extra charge".

God knows how any of them can contemplate the possibility that one fee allows to access content on pretty much any platform they want as well.

Why, the concept is practically -- Netflixian!

But it reveals that while Canadian BDUs like BellMedia have spent recent months contorting themselves to justify all the new charges they'd like to levy for delivering content Canadians already paid to produce or could find elsewhere cheaper if given the freedom to do so, they missed an opportunity to create some real vertical integration.

You see, BellMedia owns TSN which has broadcast rights to the Canadian Football League which kicks off next week, although barely hyped anywhere but on TSN.

And if the company had any creative skills among those mapping its conquest of media platforms, it might have come up with an equally inspired way of getting more people to subscribe to its services.

But they didn't.

Because they don't know what being creative means.

Which is one of the key reasons why their business models are beginning to show fatal cracks no amount of CRTC duct tape will be able to repair.

As "Preposterous!" as Canadians getting access to whatever content they want in any way they want might be to the boys at BellMedia, that day is already here.

It came from the same part of Left field that spawned "Football Cops".

Whatever you want at no extra charge. Now that's how you really -- Enjoy Your Sunday!

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