DAM In 2015 – An Asset Management Quiz

0179131001424451782_newscred1.jpgBy KEN ADELSON, Co-Founder MediaForwardTV

These are amazing times. In 2015, we live in a new, golden age of communications where real time content accessibility is changing the way we work, live and interact. New media technologies have blurred the traditional lines between broadcasting, print journalism, digital content, advertising and personal messaging. The walls of the old-school communications world have been broken down, as evidenced in every corner of NAB Show 2015, from which I just returned. Traditional broadcasters, newspaper and magazine publishers and other single outlet content providers have turned the corner and no longer question whether they “have” to be forging new interactive business in order to compete. They know they “need” to be in the space to reach the elusive viewer where and how they want to be reached.

While the core goals of making money, operating efficiently (saving money), building brand awareness and winning will never change, the method of “how” the organization reaches those goals is a whole new ballgame. As often stated, “Content is king,” and being able to command that content and utilize digital assets to create reasonable return on investment (ROI) and maintaining a competitive advantage, is mission critical to success on and off the field. The stakes are high as any company, content owner or individual can now be a “social” broadcaster, providing personalized, interactive broadband, mobile-friendly and wireless content to fans, clients, customers and

Operating in this environment, there is tremendous potential for new business and personal development, but as with nearly all opportunity, there is a catch. While many companies are challenged just to get content out the door, those same companies are trying to develop new media content using old methods, and in many cases, building a house of cards by ignoring what’s needed to build the foundation. That’s because many don’t see immediate ROI in developing the underlying asset management systems necessary for long term success and monetization. By not having an efficient digital asset management system and strategy to integrate new process into traditional operations, not reinventing work flow, and redefining traditional roles, broadcasters and content publishers of all sizes will find obstacles and detours and will struggle to create any real value.

Broadcasters, journalists, producers, editors, and managers need to possess a very different set of skills than they did just a few years ago. A comprehensive strategic plan for acquiring, cataloging, editing, producing, re-purposing, archiving and distributing footage on multiple platforms is essential for any size organization to generate revenue, or create branding and marketing opportunities. The infrastructure provides tools to create a centralized efficient digital work flow, enables real time collaboration and coordination throughout the organization, creating more efficient use of staff with less time spent searching for materials. The system will create additional programming capabilities, driving new revenue streams, branding opportunities and interactive in-stadium fan interactive elements. It significantly increases the organizations ability to reach fans, staff and business partners on any platform, anywhere, anytime on any screen. For a competitive advantage, it also enables management to provide its coaching staff and players with the latest tools and innovations for video capture and display in the locker rooms, coaches offices, team meeting rooms/theaters, family lounges and with scouting operations.

The technology needed is improving every day, and NAB 2015 was awash with options, many providing the chance to start small and build over time. The time is right to make the commitment. I’m not aligned with or touting any individual company or solution, but as a content strategist, executive producer for live games and feature programs and asset management specialist, I can helIMG_2031p answer these questions and help you reinvent your media operations.

The floor at the 2015 NAB Show in Las Vegas (Photo by Ken Adelson).

I’ve developed a simple list of questions (there could be a lot more but you’ll get the idea) that not only serves as a roadmap, but also paints a picture for executives as to why digital asset management is the key to unlocking hidden opportunity for the business, using assets the organization already owns. Professional and college sports teams, leagues, associations of all sizes and anyone that has a visual library has an opportunity to monetize and market their current and historical assets like never before and re-invent their business. Even without creating the direct ROI, the modern day content publisher cannot thrive in the long run without successfully answering these questions.

How many can you answer?

o Do you know the condition of your game tapes, interview tapes, historic event tapes, post produced content and have you started a process to preserve these assets?

o Could you easily find and re-use specific plays, interviews or moments from these tapes on all traditional and mobile platforms?

o What are your biggest challenges in production and distribution?

o Does your sports operations staff and scouting group have access to all digital material owned by the organization?

o Does your marketing and sales departments have on-line, immediate access to digital materials?

o How do you manage handling multiple formats in production or in handling internal/external requests?

o Do you efficiently utilize material across platforms; is there a single point of ingest?

o What happens to your assets after they’re created? Do they get logged and how is that log preserved? Is it anyone’s job to make sure it happens?

o Does the team and venue have separate unconnected production facilities?

o Do you have a migration plan for SD and other outdated formats?

o Can you share footage on desktops across the organization?

o How often do production people need access to the same asset and how do you handle?

o How much staff time is spent in tedious tasks of finding or retrieving and fulfilling request for digital or analog assets?

Are you ready?

Ken Adelson is an Emmy-award winning network sports broadcasting executive, innovator, executive producer and nationally recognized keynote speaker with over 28 years of television and digital media leadership. He was Senior Vice President of Production and Operations at NBA Entertainment, responsible for thousands of hours of programming, integral in the NBA’s push into digital media creation and distribution and recognized nationally as an asset management specialist. As SVP/Executive Producer for the Oklahoma City Thunder, he managed live HD television and radio game broadcasts and multimedia production. He began his career in front of the camera, as a sports anchor and reporter at top-40 network affiliated television stations.

Heading home at the 2015 NAB

As the Ides of March has passed and the month of April is here, the NAB or National Association of Broadcasters annual trade show (April 11-16, 2015) is nearly upon us. While April might mean the end of March Madness, Opening Day in Baseball and the Masters to some, for those working behind the scenes to bring those great sports properties to life in your living room, springtime brings on the NAB. What the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is to flat screens, gismos and gadgets, NAB is to Broadcasting. And, trust me, nothing from the NAB world “Stays in Vegas.”

When I say world, it’s not an exaggeration, somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000 people descend on the Las Vegas Convention Center annually for an experience that is truly the “Olympics” in terms of global participation for the business of broadcasting and new technologies (www.nabshow.com). There are a number of benefits to making the journey.

Satellite TV tech was once the cutting edge of sports broadcasting  PHOTO CREDIT: ANEESE/ANEESE

First and more importantly than discovering the latest and greatest in new technology, the NAB’s most alluring aspect is the networking. Throughout the conference, you’ll find the key people – the decision makers and leaders – from all aspects of the industry. Secondly, the NAB provides you with a wealth of information to stay abreast of the trending media technologies and products. Every major vendor and manufacturer is well represented at the NAB and displaying their latest and greatest product lines. In fact, most of the products they’re showing are in the early stages of development and distribution, so you’ll surely get a glimpse into the future.

As with most sports conferences and seminars, there’s a never-ending parade of breakout sessions, keynote speeches and training sessions to fill your full day agenda. The third and final reason to attend is a bonus. If you’re actually in the position to be making any big purchases in the coming year and want to do your homework, it’s all in one place at one time with sales and marketing people from hundreds of companies ready to answer your questions. The sales people have a great service mentality so if you’re working for a major TV network or a smaller start-up, or campus digital operation, you’ll be provided with extremely buttoned-down service everywhere at NAB.

I always found that much of what’s being displayed by the major manufactures is technology that’s not quite ready for prime time, but some three or four years away from being the next “overnight” sensation. There’s not one piece of new media technology for big time content creators or consumers that didn’t go through this evolution.

One other attraction to look forward to is the fact that each year, there’s an overriding theme to the NAB show. It could be the latest in remote satellite trucks, digital production technologies, editing systems, cameras, audio gear, big screen displays, control room equipment, interactive digital displays, internet streaming protocols and the list goes on and on. If you want to play the futures, this is where to go long.

A good example? When we launched NBA TV in 1999, digital media production technology from end to end was the pressing issue. The capturing of footage (ingest), logging, retrieval or viewing of clips, editing, and distribution, was all in its infancy. In 1999, the concept of creating an accessible digital video archive with the ability to retrieve the clips remotely and then edit from the same files was simply unheard of. Our dilemma was that NBA Entertainment (NBAE) owned over 300,000 tapes and cans of film in storage, and many of the older video tapes were decaying.  They all had to be transferred and catalogued or be lost forever. Part of the big picture challenge was addressing the “small” issue of also having to ingest some 1,500 new games per year, along with footage from NBAE’s own in-house field production units. By the way, taking in a game meant the chronicling and logging of the main camera game feed a viewer sees on TV, along with the low angle isolation tapes recorded from cameras positioned under each basket.  For each NBA game played, an average 7+ hours of game footage had to be ingested and logged. In theory, catching up was a huge part of the challenge, but when I look back, we were operating in the stone ages of digital technology.

Grant Hill and Kristen Ledlow, hosts of NBA TV’s Inside Stuff   PHOTO CREDIT: BOB DONNAN-USA TODAY SPORTS

Thankfully, we were headed in the right direction as technology accelerated during our first decade broadcasting NBA TV, and by 2010, this type of digital production and workflow was the accepted practice, and the costs had come way down. Of course if you look at it today, it’s the only way to create a production facility. But back in ’99, when faced with the daunting task of “saving the visual history of the NBA,” we made the decision to be on the bleeding edge and had yet another goal in mind and that was to put the content to work for the league and its teams. We were mindful that the NBA was reaching growing audiences around the world on the league’s new digital and cable network, originally called NBA.comTV, and our infrastructure, although in its early stages, would be growing as the league’s global popularity and digital business outreach was bound to expand.

On the distribution side, as anyone over the age of 14 will remember, the original online video offerings were slow, had that annoying buffering effect as there was just not enough bandwidth to support video. The pictures were small and certainly not anywhere near HD quality. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, “video will never be mainstream and viable on the internet.” So, evolving on a parallel path to the digital production of content, was the commercial and residential technology for distribution, with devices to watch them by the average consumer.  The “overnight” sensation of watching video on the web took more than 10 years to develop but many players in the industry, especially those in traditional print (newspapers/magazines) have been left in the dust – unless they were early adapters.

That background is important, here, because in the coming years, the means of reaching people at home are going to change dramatically due to this continually evolving technology. We’re already seeing trends slowly moving away from the cable model to an “over the top” methodology, with providers like Netflix, Roku, Playstation, Apple, offering all digital –  so-called “cut the cord” – TV services and the need to feed that frenzy with high quality production has never been greater.

To meet this demand for new content, the next “overnight” sensation is the “at home” production model for on-site game and event production. The concept has been around for over 15 years, but now at the stage where it’s truly viable for most broadcasters. In a few more years, this technology will change the way remote productions are done, just as digital technology forever changed the way footage is curated and distributed.

The concept is simple. Instead of having a production truck at the venue, complete with costs averaging $30,000 (without factoring in the production crew), the broadcaster uses their home studio control room to serve the same purpose. Individual camera feeds are brought back to the switcher at home base, along with the announcer’s audio and the natural sound from the venue. On site, you would have the announce-team, cameramen (which also could change based on robotics), and engineers to route the feeds back to the production studio. All the cameras are switched at home base, while audio is mixed, graphics added and the final signal transmitted from the home studio to its final destination. (cable MSO’s, satellite companies, digital outlets, etc.). In addition to saving on the remote production unit, the content creators and rights holders can save by not needing a satellite uplink truck on site, as proper broadband or fiber-optics are all that’s required to send the signal from the venue back to the home studio.

What makes this all possible is the ability to send each camera feed and audio through a digital IP (Internet Protocol) stream, so basically sending it back on-line. Technology has now evolved for dependable private IP feeds, with enough bandwidth to satisfy HD requirements. The costs of converters and the streams themselves amortized over a series of games or events can average less than one satellite feed.

Where this circles back to the earlier part of this story, is the fact that this simple concept has been developing for years, however, the problem has been, the resolution and dependability of the IP feeds have not been secure enough for broadcasters to move away from the more traditional and proven satellite feed. For the next few years, the major networks are not likely to take the leap for their highest profile events. The danger? Even with back up steams, if you lose the IP connection, your broadcast will go down. That stated, some major players are starting to dip their toes in the water, and as soon as the reliability becomes similar to satellite technology, which I’m convinced it will over the next five years, the use of IP feed tech will quickly spread to the higher profile sporting and news events.

Broadcasters worked tirelessly on the infrastructure of the Sochi Olympic Games  PHOTO CREDIT: FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

In fact, the Olympic Games were a major testing ground, just last year, as many of the events from smaller venues were produced this way by NBC. Up in Canada, the CBC almost exclusively produced their broadcast using this method, and some of the new college networks such as the PAC12 and Big10 have been using this technology to produce content from their member school venues and steam it back to their home bases.  The latest high profile broadcaster to step into this digital pool was Univision producing MLS Soccer, so, it’s going to spread, and it is just a matter of time.

(Cut and paste this link to your browser to find out more about the Univision experiment): http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Journal/Issues/2015/03/16/Media/Sports-Media.aspx

The reasons? As the technology continues to improve and the need to produce more events at reduced costs continues to increase, this evolution is inevitable. Let’s do some very simple math, if you save $30K on the remote truck itself and then another $5K on the satellite truck, $3 or 4K for satellite time, then throw in all the travel costs for on-site crew that’s now working from home (or might be on full-time staff) you’re talking about significant savings.

This year could be a turning point with smaller content providers and networks, on-line/mobile broadcasters and local stations getting into the game and becoming the trailblazers, so-to-say, with the major networks picking their spots to utilize the tech at a slower pace. One immediate impact for consumers will be a widespread availability of niche sports at the professional, college and high school levels, along with non-sporting events, such as concerts, speeches, political rallies and anyone with a charitable cause, trying to reach a mass audience.

At NBA TV, we used this same philosophy back in 1999 to customize the production of games. It was only satellites back then, so we brought-in a clean satellite feed, (clean meaning no graphics or commercials) and inserted our own graphics and commercials from our home control room in Secaucus, NJ. As far as I know, we were the first major sports distributor using an early “at home” model to create more cost effective programming.

There might be many inside and outside the industry that will say this concept of “at-home” broadcasting will never fully take hold, but then again, that’s what they said about digital production technology, HD, and streaming of full-length games and highlight packages via online video.

Ken Adelson is an Emmy-award winning network sports broadcasting executive, innovator, executive producer and nationally recognized keynote speaker with over 25 years of television and digital media leadership. He was SVP of Production and Operations at NBA Entertainment, with the NBA for over 18 years, and SVP/Executive Producer for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He began his career in front of the camera, as a critically acclaimed sports anchor and reporter at top-40 network affiliated television stations.

The Opportunity

Is it sunrise or sunset on your organization? (Photo by T. Peter Lyons)

 

As digital media technology advances at warp speed, storytelling through video is quickly becoming a primary means of interaction for a new generation. Customers will pay for content, advertisesr want to support it, media is revenue, video is marketing and visual content creates a competitive advantage for whatever you are trying to make happen.

New distribution outlets have created unprecedented opportunity for individuals, sports organizations, businesses of all kinds, educational institution, charitable and government programs to take advantage of the most immediate and impactful form of communication ever. The digital train has left the station, but most people still don’t know where to buy a ticket.

The demand is overwhelming, learn more about how to embrace these new technologies as the central driver to organizational growth or individual achievement.

Not only is the opportunity immense, the downside is standing still. In essence, you can’t afford to be left behind.

MediaForwardTV keeps it simple, empowering anyone or any organization to create powerful, affordable, high quality “live” games and multi-media feature content for any platform on any size budget.

Consulting for Organizations:

Media Forward will perform a complete assessment and analysis of current organizational realities and develop a strategic plan for how to move forward to capitalize on multimedia opportunities.

Media Forward designs and delivers next generation production, programming and video messaging strategies.

Coaching:

Access to the experience and brainpower of leading media experts and innovators through one-one-one sessions including:

• Production and Programming, including “Sizzle Reels”

• Utilizing Video for Achievement- Digital Media messaging strategies

• Professional Development & Career Transitions

• Media Relations and Public Image Training

• Sports Marketing & Promotions

• Digital Workflow & Content Management

Revitalizing Organizations:

Media Forward increases productivity and efficiency guiding executives and managers to update infrastructure and develop highly functional and efficient integrated digital workflow to manage, edit and distribute assets.

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Broadcasting & Digital Media Leadership, Innovation and Results!

We live in amazing times. In a new golden age of communications where real time content accessibility is changing the way we work, live and interact. New media technologies have blurred the traditional lines between broadcasting, print journalism, digital content, advertising and pesonal messaging. Sure, the old school broadcast world still exists, but it’s changing every day. Traditional broadcasters have turned the corner and no longer a question they have to be interactive to compete and need to reach people where and how they want to be reached. Any company, content owner or individual can also now be a “social” broadcaster, provide personalized, interactive broadband and wireless content to fans, clients, customers and friends. It’s an exciting new world in the way we live and communicate every day, with tremendous potential for new business and personal development but there is a catch.

Without the vision and tactical skills to strategically integrate new processes into traditional operations, develop new work flow, devise efficiencies in production and use talent as never before across platforms to drive promotions and branding, broadcasters and content organizations of all sizes will find obstacles and detours on the road to anticipated financial or social media success. An environment that’s willing to change from “how it’s always been done,”  has to be created.

Broadcasters, journalists, producers, editors, and managers need to possess a very different set of skills than they did just a few years ago.

I’ve been fortunate to be part of the revolution. As far as my backgound, here’s what I consider some of my key accomplishments helping shape the future, and drive success at some of the nation’s primier sports and entertainment media organizations…

NBA Entertainment, Senior Vice President, Production and Operations 

  • Launched and supervised NBA TV, the first major league sports network 
  • Ran the day-to-day operations and oversaw a staff of 350+ for worldwide production and programming, live games telecasts & in-arena presentations
  • Pioneered NBA’s cross-platform digital programming initiatives
  • Advanced from Producer to SVP based on achievements over 18 years

 Oklahoma City Thunder, Executive Producer and SVP Broadcasting, Production and Programming

  • Started-up and oversaw all aspects of Fox Sports Oklahoma / Thunder Broadcastingken at
  • Built and managed the Thunder Radio Networks (English and Spanish)
  • Developed, produced and cross utilized hundreds of hours of content for Broadcasts, Web Video Content and In-Arena Presentations
  • Won Regional Emmy Award as Executive Producer for LA Lakers – OKC Thunder Game Broadcast

The Jockey Club, Executive Producer, leadership position in start-up multi-screen marketing and programming organization to attract new fans to the sports of horse racing

  • Created / Executive Producer for national horse racing telecasts on NBC and Fox Sports
  • Launched America’s Best Racing Website
  • Developed multimedia and experiential marketing initiatives and sponsorship integration

Sports Broadcasting  & Achievements 

  • On-Air Television Anchor, Reporter and Producer at Network Affiliates in Salt Lake City, Phoenix and Hartford, CT (Top 25-market at age 24)
  • National and international keynote speaker at major broadcast conferences
  • Media coach and educator, developing new talent for the broadcast industry

Currently I’m the Co-Founder and Executive Producer for MediaForward.tv, Productions and Consulting, specializing in sports industry startups, restructuring existing organizations, developing content strategy and multimedia production.  

 

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Living the Dream

Sometimes when you’re in the middle of something special you don’t realize the significance of the moment.

I started going to the races while I was in high school with friends and soon after with my dad, who owned some inexpensive claiming horses. At the time he was living the dream of horse owner, it didn’t matter that these horses were not headed for the Kentucky Derby. (or any Derby for that matter).

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One of my earliest memories was the 1978 Belmont Stakes, sitting in the 4th deck at Belmont Park with a close friend and watching a horse named Affirmed go for the Triple Crown. It was a thrilling race etched in my memory. Affirmed and his rival Alydar locked up on the first turn and ran as a team around the huge 1 1/2 Belmont oval until Affirmed managed to edge Alydar to capture the Triple Crown. Here I am in the same seat at Belmont Park, this past June 36 years later.

 

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That summer (1978), my friends and I discovered Saratoga in August and there was no turning back. There were six or seven of us that first time. we pitched a tent in a campground, paid $25 dollars per night and had a grand old time. I remember on the trip home, no one had any money left and someone throwing pennies in the toll basket on the NY State Thruway.  I can still hear the ringing of the buzzer. I was hooked on the sport and my tradition of going to Saratoga every year stands today, except now as a horse racing broadcaster, the experience has changed dramatically.

During my career in sports television my passion for the sport of Thoroughbred Racing never went away. I was a small bettor, but always loved the action and the challenge of predicting the outcome of a race. It’s a great thrill (to me) to have the race go exactly as I envisioned after analyzing the past performance data.

Like many others who frequent the track, I have hundreds of “racetrack” stories some good, some bad but all memorable. So when I got the opportuunity to work with the Jockey Club late in 2011 to help start up a new multi-media initiative that was designed to help bring the sport to a new generation of fans and re-energize the grand old game, it was very special opportunity for me.

IMG_0699In my three years with the America’s Best Racing media and marketing venture I have been fortunate to find myself in the middle of covering two triple crown attempts. In 2012, a horse named I’ll Have Another with a colorful trainer in Doug O’Neil, and an unknown Jockey Mario Guttirrez took the nation by storm, winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and setting up a run for the Triple Crown in the Belmont. At that point it had been 34 years since Affirmed had taken the Triple Crown and the nation was ready for an equine hero. I was covering the races for our newly established website “America’s Beat Racing,” after I had co-produced a series of triple crown prep broadcasts that aired on NBC Sports Network and NBC.

In covering the Triple Crown events I was working with filmmaker John Hennegan, who had produced the documentary “First Saturday in May” a few years back. We ended up gathering some great footage at the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. In the parking lot at Pilmico John and I realized we had enough material for a full 30 minute show that could serve as a preview to the historic run at the Belmont. My colleagues of The Jockey Club agreed to underwrite the project. Here is a link to the program. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z62be2VUqBM

The show aired on Thrusday June 7th on NBC Sports Network and was scheduled to air again on Friday night and then again before the Belmont Stakes on June 9th.

Unfortunately for the racing world (and our program) I’ll Have Another came up with a leg injury the day before the Belmont Stakes and was scratched. Another tough blow for the horse racing industry. In my case, I was disappointed as a fan, but thrilled to be part of it and getting paid to boot. I was like a kid in a candy store.

2012 Kentucky Derby DrawThings looked like they would change this year. A budding star named California Chrome came blasting out of the Santa Antia Derby to take both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.

This year, along with covering the sport for ABR, I was spending the majority of my time as the Executive Producer for “The Jockey Club Tour on Fox,” working hand-in-hand with our partners at Fox Sports to create, produce and lauch a new horse racing series. But when it came to the Triple Crown races which aired on NBC, I put on my Field Producer’s hat and had the opporutnity to cover the races for their new network Fox Sports 1 and for Fox Sports Digital. The analyst from our TV series, former jockey Richard Migliore was the reporter.

 

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California Chrome as we know won the Kentucky Derby….

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…and then the Preakness only to fall short in the Belmont Stakes. The scene before the race was electric as the world once again though they were watching a champion about to be crowned.

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As a horse racing fan and reporter it was another amazing experience. For a while, it looked like history would shine bright on California Chrome but it was not to be. Tomorrow, California Chrome makes his return in the Pennsylvania Derby and if things go as planned, it will be a victory and a trip to the Breeders Cup World Championships. The race is going to be streamed live by America’s Best Racing at www.americasbestracing.net starting at 4:30ET.

I wish the connections the best of luck, racing needs a superstar and I’ll keep doing my part to bring the sport to as many new fans as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

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The Blizzard of 2009

 

I’ve never been very good about keeping a diary but have started writing up some memorable professional moments. Some of them involve high profile teams, events and athletes so might be interesting to someone else besides me. In any case, this a good forum for me to capture these stories.

 

thunder_logo_2It started to snow around mid-day on Christmas Eve 2009. It seems to happen  every year around the holiday season, one huge storm hits the OKC metro area.

My family was in Baltimore visiting friends. I was at the Oklahoman’s (local newspaper) studios taping our weekly magazine show “Air Thunder,” This was year two, the show was nominated for a regional Emmy in it’s first season. I added a couple of new wrinkles, brining in MIke Steely, the leader of the market’s dominate morning radio sports show as the new host. Steely was very good, well

known in the market and would help promote “Air Thunder” on his radio program. I also brought in the team’s web reporter to add commentary. The other co-hosts remained the TV and Radio Broadcast team of Brian Davis, Matt Pinto and Grant Long.

 

Air Thunder’s primary outlet was Fox Sports Oklahoma but also aired on KSBI-TV, a local over the air station. It was also posted by the Oklahoman’s on their web site and posted on the Thunder’s Web site. We had made a deal with the Oklahoman to use their new “web” studio at a reduced rate and offered them the content as part of the arrangement.

 

We finished shooting the studio segments and proceeded to do the final edit, inserting feature stories that had been packaged up over the past few days. By the time we were done editing, it was around 4:30 PM and the snow (and wind) had picked up in intensity. In the winter of 2009, we didn’t have the bandwidth to send an entire half-hour HD upload to KSBI and Fox digitally, so tapes had to be hand delivered each week. At that moment we had a problem, no one had any idea how long the 20 mile trip from the Oklahoman studios to KSBI would take, or if it would even be possible to get there. The show was scheduled to air at 7PM that night.

 

It was now a full-fledged Blizzard and I had a decision to make. I couldn’t ask anyone else to make the journey and could have simply had KSBI air a re-run…and deal with the fall-out from sponsors and fans later on.

 

I had just bought a new SUV. With my family away I had no special plans for Christmas Eve, so I decided to give it a whirl and attempt to make the trip to south OKC. The show’s Producer Dane Cleaven agreed to be my co-pilot.

 

The going was incredibly slow. Cars were wiped out on the side of the road (or blocking the road) all along the way. We kept to the side streets and don’t think we exceeded 10 miles an hour for the entire trip. We were making slow but steady progress so I decided to go for it. As we approached our third hour it was almost impossible to see but we were to close to turn back.

 

We made it to the station with a only a few minutes to spare. The master control operator loaded up the video and the show made air as scheduled. Now the trick would be to get back.

 

It took almost two hours to make it to the downtown area (around 10 miles). At that point we needed something to eat and believe it or not gas. Thinking it would be our best bet, we drove into a deserted downtown and managed to reach the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. Amazingly, the bar was still open and they were serving food. Next up was to try and find gas. We found a 100% self serve station and luckily the credit card reader and pumps were not frozen. Getting out of downtown was a nightmare and the worst part of the trip. Every road we tried was either blocked by abandoned cars or by snow drifts. It looked like a scene out of the apocalypse. We luckily found an escape rout and made our way north. A couple of hours later we arrived a Dane’s apartment complex in Edmond (just north of OKC) and I dropped him off. I then navigated the 4 miles back to the house we were renting.

 

At 12:30 AM, after an 8 hour round trip (to go around 50 miles), I got to my house and found the hilly driveway covered with a foot of snow. I used the wheels of the truck as a plow and got through to the garage. Fortunately, the power had not gone out.

 

In retrospect, it was a crazy thing to do, the world would have continued spinning if the program didn’t make it but I felt I had to give it a shot.

 

The story didn’t end there. MIke Steely could not make it home as his car got stuck in a drift. He managed to get a ride in the opposite direction from where he lived and was only able to find a room at an awful motel in Edmond. Dane Cleaven found his car buried a day later.

 

I headed out the next morning to pick up Mike and Dane and help them dig out their car’s. It was one for the book’s, but the show did go on.

 

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America’s Best Racing – “The Jockey Club Tour on Fox”

unnamedNow that I’m actually part of the team trying to re-invent the sport of horse racing and not just talking about it, it’s time to amp things up. I’m fortunate to be the Executive Producer at TJC Media Ventures, brought on to help launch and drive the success of the venture, combining my professional skills with a sport I’ve enjoyed all my life.

We create programming that spans and integrates all forms of traditional and new media. This includes network television production, digital and social media, working with the nation’s primier tracks to provide video / digital content incluidng “Racing 101″ eduational materials, developing and implemeting agressive marketing campaigns and distributing content to the mainstream media all designed to promote the competition and lifestyle of the sport for a new generation of fans. We give new and veteran fans alike a behind the scenes look into the heart of the game, teach them how to understand and enjoy the gambling/handicapping apsects, showcase the big events at some of nation’s iconic sporting venues including Saratoga, Gulfstream, Santa Anita and Keelenand, Del Mar and many others.

This is a link to the sizzle reel we produced when I started at TJC Media Ventures and launced our network TV and americasbestracing.net initiatives. It’s due for an update but the message is the same, Thoroughbred Horse Racing is a unique experience for sports fans of all ages and one of the best kept secrets on the sports landscape.

http://youtu.be/asmspV-_RoI

I spend a great deal of time as the Executive Producer for “The Jockey Club on Fox” Series, and had the opportuity to work with NBC for two seasons on “The Road to the Kentucky Derby” and “Summer at Saratoga” series. We also work closely with the Breeders Cup on their televison ventures along with developing our cross-platform media strategy and day to day content production.

 

TheJockeyClubFox

Attached is a link to a promo we produced for the series, having a little fun integrating horse racing clips with a segment Fox put together for the launch of Fox Sports 1. (with their permission of course)  http://youtu.be/gjut5SSjxpw

 

Here’s a link to the opening segment from our recent Telecast of the “Bluegrass Stakes” at  Keeneland Racecourse.   http://youtu.be/B_kVeL3Q2D8

 

 

This is a blog I wrote before I became part of ABR. America’s Best Racing has started to put many of these action item’s into place, but there is still a log way to go.

Saving The Sport of Kings?

Horse Racing is the original American Sport.

In the late 1600’s the Governor of New York, Peter Stuyvesant built a racetrack in what was to become the borough of Queens, and horse racing was born in America. In the early part of the 20th century it was among the most popular sports, if not the most popular form of sports entertainment in America. It goes back as far as man goes back. So why is it dying in the 21-century and what can be done?

Some quick background, I’ve been a Horse Racing fan since I was in high school. Growing up on Long Island my friends and I used to sneak out of school early, pile into my Dodge Dart and head to the Big A (Aqueduct Racetrack) or Belmont Park for after school entertainment. It wasn’t long after that Saratoga became a regular August affair for me.

I was at the Affirmed-Alydar Belmont Stakes in 1978 as Affirmed won the Triple Crown. I saw Spectacular Bid go out too fast and get beat by Coastal to lose his shot at the Triple Crown a year later, and watched Forgo stage one of the biggest come from behind victories ever in a major stakes race. If you’re a fan, Horse Racing leaves indelible moments etched into your memory.

I enjoy the intensity and excitement of the short all out races and the challenging exercise of trying to figure out how the race will play out by studying the past performances and then deciding how to wager to make money from your efforts.

As I became a broadcasting and production professional, sportscaster and writer, I was fortunate enough to get to hang out in the press box at Turf Paradise when I worked in Phoenix. I began to see the industry from the inside for the first time and also started to see what was not happening around the track.

I would later be offered the job of Director of Broadcast at Turf Paradise but decided to turn it down for an offer to work at NBA Entertainment and return home to New York. So I never ended up getting involved in Horse Racing professionally, but observed from a distance and saddened to see its decline. So what does the industry need to do to regain its glory?

The Sport of Kings is on life support. It didn’t happen overnight and won’t be solved overnight, but by breaking down some of the key issues we can start to form possible solutions. Here are my top ten problems and suggestions:

 

1) Let’s start with nobody knows the rules!

Only those who work in the industry and your hard core fans can answer these questions; why do only 3 year olds run in the Triple Crown Races, what’s a claiming race, what’s an allowance race, what’s a stakes race, why do they run all different distances on different surfaces, how do they decide how much weight goes on the horse, how are the odds determined and the list goes on. Without people having a basic understanding of the rules, you can’t grow a sport.

Strategy/First steps: Every person that walks into any racetrack in America should have the opportunity to watch entertaining videos that explain the basics of the sport on the big screen scoreboards boards and TV monitors before and in-between races. These videos should be produced through a central governing body such as the Jockey Club or NTRA and made readily available through all forms of traditional and social media. An on-line network should be set up to provide this and other racing information, features, and history. There should be track employees stationed throughout the facility that are there to answer questions and help this process.

This “education” should also be a core feature of EVERY “live” racing broadcast shown on the networks, during local recaps shows, simulcasts and other distribution outlets. They can be sponsored to help recapture production costs. A coordinated effort is needed.

 

2) Nobody knows anything about the PEOPLE involved

Without a connection between the fans and caretakers of the sport, nothing will change. A few trainers might have some notoriety but overall it’s an anonymous sport.

Strategy/First Steps: The sport needs to create stars that walk on two legs. Horse Racing can follow the tested and successful model forged by the NBA, NASCAR and other major sports leagues. The sport has plenty of characters and intriguing personalities to choose from. Jockey’s and trainers come from all over the world, owner’s range from blue bloods to blue collar. There needs to be a coordinated public relations plan to make them all visible in local markets and seen to be part of the community.

A primary aspect of this strategy needs to be based in broadcasting and social media. Programs need to be produced a la “NBA Inside Stuff” or “This Week in Baseball” that puts a “cool” mainstream spin on the current day participants and also gives a historical perspective. Behind the scenes access should be a big part of the programming.

 

3) There’s no compelling reason to hang around beyond the Triple Crown races and Breeders Cup

Strategy/First Steps: Connect people to things in the sport they can relate to, since the horses come and go pretty quickly, so anyone that gets attached to a particular horse only becomes a fan for a short time unless they are given other reasons to stay interested in the sport.

People need to know what they’re rooting for so there needs to be a general education about the history of the sport, what goes into making a champion horse, what it takes to become a jockey, trainer, owner. There can be stories of the rich history, current big business and intrigue (breeding and sales), fashion, medicine and science, overcoming obstacles, the key is relating it to a wide audience.

 

4) There are no leagues, standings, or playoffs to follow

Strategy/First Steps: There can be a two year old division, a three year old division, a 4 and up division with points awarded based on on-track accomplishments. A play-off system can be devised that could lead to the Breeders Cup as the Super Bowl. One reason the points system works so well for NASCAR is that individual races count toward a bigger goal.

 

5) The sport still has a reputation of being a bunch of seedy old guys hanging out and betting their last dollars, not a family affair for entertainment 

Strategy/First Steps: There is a core fan base, but it’s not enough. That base does expand for the Triple Crown Races, Saratoga, Del Mar and the Breeders Cup but most days, it’s a dismal lonely affair at the countries racetracks.

The model to remedy this can be found in other major sports. A day at the racetrack has to be a full day of entertainment for a wide diverse audience, not just 20 minutes of races in four hours surrounded by a bunch of screens flashing odds aimed at the current core. Just like an NBA or MLB game, the entire day needs to be scripted and choreographed with a number of strategic goals in mind.

 

6) Simulcasting suports the industry but doesn’t do anything to grow the sport

Strategy/First Steps: The sports has a built in-satellite network, every track is up on satellite feeds for six or seven hours every day, this air time can be used to promote and market the sport as well as showing the odds and races to perspective betters.

 

7) There has not been an effort to create a community of on-line gamers

Strategy/First Steps: Horse Racing is a natural for on-line gamers. There are hundreds of ways it could be produced for video games. This medium directly connects the sport to the new target audience, young adults who can form the next generation of fans.

 

8) Most people don’t understand the analytical challenge required to handicap

Strategy/First Steps: Back to the education thing. Tout sheets are nice, but instead of tracks handing fans today’s “winners,” teach them how to handicap, make it fun. It can be tied to education in a way never done before by showing the math and strategic thinking that’s needed to handicap. Use it as a learning tool with prizes instead of dollars.

 

9) The current horse racing networks seem to cater to hard-core fans and don’t take a local approach

Strategy/First Steps: Between daily simulcasts, two full time networks, local broadcasts, and the current schedule of races slated for national and regional TV, the distribution outlets are already teed up.

My comment on why the two national networks have limited success is that these outlets do not connect with local racing fans, regional programming would be more effective. I think they need to reverse their approach, think local and start covering the sports at the grass roots level.

 

10) The Governing bodies don’t have the clout to unite the sport

Strategy/First Steps: There needs to be a single cohesive, empowered marketing and media organization that represents the industry. The current media landscape and new powerful social media outlets create new opportunities to reach potential fans. There’s a reason all the major leagues, NASCAR, and the PGA have large Entertainment, Production, Marketing and Business Operations and have networks run by the leagues.

After passing up the Turf Paradise opportunity, I ended up spending 18 years at the NBA, launched NBA TV, the OKC Thunder’s Broadcasting and Digital Media Operations and learned the power of a coordinated Broadcasting and Multimedia effort. In my opinion it’s the first step to start reinventing the sport of horse racing.

 

*******************************************************************

 

 

 

 

ICMs

Integrated Content & Advanced Broadcasting

Understanding the tactics required to take advantage of emerging technologies, create mult-platform production strategies and integrate social media into broadcasts, web and mobile content requires re-inventing workflow and a detailed level of planning.

This business model takes the advanced broadcast process from start to finish, from defining business unit objectives to creating and distributing the final product.

Thunder Broadcasting Wins Emmy

The Oklahoma City Thunder broadcast team earned a Heartland Regional Emmy Award for it’s live game telecast of the Thunder vs. the LA Lakers on Dec. 22, 2009, airing on Fox Sports Oklahoma.

“To receive this honor after just two seasons of existence is a testament to the hard work and teamwork exemplified by this remarkable group of broadcasters,” said Thunder Senior Vice President and Executive Producer Ken Adelson. “It could not have been achieved without terrific support from the entire Thunder organization and the players gave us an incredible canvas to work from.” (Quoted in an article from The Daily Oklahoman, July 21, 2010)

The Thunder telecast featured broadcasters Brian Davis, Grant Long and Matt Pinto. The game proved strong enough to beat out a group of nominees that included entries from Fox Sports Rocky Mountain and Altitude in Denver. The team’s weekly magazine television show, “Air Thunder,” also received a nomination for best sports program series.

 

The Heartland Chapter represents markets in Oklahoma City; Tulsa; Denver, Wichita/Hutchinson, Kan.; Omaha; Colorado Springs/Pueblo, Colo.; Lincoln/Hastings-Kearny, Neb.; Topeka, Kan.; Grand Junction/Montrose, Colo.; Cheyenne/Scottsbluff, Wyo.; and North Platte, Neb.

 

Saving the Sport of Kings?

 Horse Racing is the original American Sport.

In the late 1600’s the Governor of New York, Peter Stuyvesant built a racetrack in what was to become the borough of Queens, and horse racing was born in America. In the early part of the 20th century it was among the most popular sports, if not the most popular form of sports entertainment in America. It goes back as far as man goes back. So why is it dying in the 21-century and what can be done?

Some quick background, I’ve been a Horse Racing fan since I was in high school. Growing up on Long Island my friends and I used to sneak out of school early, pile into my Dodge Dart and head to the Big A (Aqueduct Racetrack) or Belmont Park for after school entertainment. It wasn’t long after that Saratoga became a regular August affair for me.

I was at the Affirmed-Alydar Belmont Stakes in 1978 as Affirmed won the Triple Crown. I saw Spectacular Bid go out too fast and get beat by Coastal to lose his shot at the Triple Crown a year later, and watched Forgo stage one of the biggest come from behind victories ever in a major stakes race. If you’re a fan, Horse Racing leaves indelible moments etched into your memory.

I enjoy the intensity and excitement of the short all out races and the challenging exercise of trying to figure out how the race will play out by studying the past performances and then deciding how to wager to make money from your efforts.

page1image14480
page1image15032

As I became a broadcasting and production professional, sportscaster and writer, I was fortunate enough to get to hang out in the press box at Turf Paradise when I worked in Phoenix. I began to see the industry from the inside for the first time and also started to see what was not happening around the track.

I would later be offered the job as Director of Broadcast at Turf Paradise but decided to turn it down for an offer to work at NBA Entertainment and return home to New York. So I never ended up getting involved in Horse Racing professionally, but observed from a distance and saddened to see its decline. So what does the industry need to do to regain its glory?

The Sport of Kings is on life support. It didn’t happen overnight and won’t be solved overnight, but by breaking down some of the key issues we can start to form possible solutions. Here are my top ten problems and suggestions:

1) Let’s start with nobody knows the rules!

Only those who work in the industry and your hard core fans can answer these questions; why do only 3 year olds run in the Triple Crown Races, what’s a claiming race, what’s an allowance race, what’s a stakes race, why do they run all different distances on different surfaces, how do they decide how much weight goes on the horse, how are the odds determined and the list goes on. Without people having a basic understanding of the rules, you can’t grow a sport.

Strategy/First steps: Every person that walks into any racetrack in America should have the opportunity to watch entertaining videos that explain the basics of the sport on the big screen scoreboards and TV monitors before and in-between races. These videos should be produced through a central governing body such as the Jockey Club or NTRA and made readily available through all forms of traditional and social media. An on-line network should be set up to provide this and other racing information, features, and history. There should be track employees stationed throughout the facility that are there to answer questions and help this process.

This “education” should also be a core feature of EVERY “live” racing broadcast shown on the networks, during local recaps shows, simulcasts and other distribution outlets. They can be sponsored to help recapture production costs. A coordinated effort is needed.

2) Nobody knows anything about the PEOPLE involved

Without a connection between the fans and caretakers of the sport, nothing will change. A few trainers might have some notoriety but overall it’s an anonymous sport.

Strategy/First Steps: The sport needs to create stars that walk on two legs. Horse Racing can follow the tested and successful model forged by the NBA, NASCAR and other major sports leagues. The sport has plenty of characters and intriguing personalities to choose from. Jockey’s and trainers come from all over the world, owner’s range from blue bloods to blue collar. There needs to be a coordinated public relations plan to make them all visible in local markets and seen to be part of the community.

A primary aspect of this strategy needs to be based in broadcasting and social media. Programs need to be produced a la “NBA Inside Stuff” or “This Week in Baseball” that puts a “cool” mainstream spin on the current day participants and also gives a historical perspective. Behind the scenes access should be a big part of the programming.

3) There’s no compelling reason to hang around beyond the Triple Crown races and Breeders Cup

Strategy/First Steps: Connect people to things in the sport they can relate to, since the horses come and go pretty quickly, so anyone that gets attached to a particular horse only becomes a fan for a short time unless they are given other reasons to stay interested in the sport.

People need to know what they’re rooting for so there needs to be a general education about the history of the sport, what goes into making a champion horse, what it takes to become a jockey, trainer, owner. There can be stories of the rich history, current big business and intrigue (breeding and sales), fashion, medicine and science, overcoming obstacles, the key is relating it to a wide audience.

4) There are no leagues, standings, or playoffs to follow

Strategy/First Steps: There can be a two year old division, a three year old division, a 4 and up division with points awarded based on on-track accomplishments. A play-off system can be devised that could lead to the Breeders Cup as the Super Bowl. One reason the points system works so well for NASCAR is that individual races count toward a bigger goal.

5) The sport still has a reputation of being a bunch of seedy old guys hanging out and betting their last dollars, not a family affair for entertainment

Strategy/First Steps: There is a core fan base, but it’s not enough. That base does expand for the Triple Crown Races, Saratoga, Del Mar and the Breeders Cup but most days, it’s a dismal lonely affair at the countries racetracks.

The model to remedy this can be found in other major sports. A day at the racetrack has to be a full day of entertainment for a wide diverse audience, not just 20 minutes of races in four hours surrounded by a bunch of screens flashing odds aimed at the current core. Just like an NBA or MLB game, the entire day needs to be scripted and choreographed with a number of strategic goals in mind.

6) Simulcasting doesn’t do anything to grow the sport

Strategy/First Steps: The sports has a built in-satellite network, every track is up on satellite feeds for six or seven hours every day, this air time can be used to promote and market the sport as well as showing the odds and races to perspective betters.

7) There has not been an effort to create a community of on-line gamers

Strategy/First Steps: Horse Racing is a natural for on-line gamers. There are hundreds of ways it could be produced for video games. This medium directly connects the sport to the new target audience, young adults who can form the next generation of fans.

8) Most people don’t understand the analytical challenge required to handicap

Strategy/First Steps: Back to the education thing. Tout sheets are nice, but instead of tracks handing fans today’s “winners,” teach them how to handicap, make it fun. It can be tied to education in a way never done before by showing the math and strategic thinking that’s needed to handicap. Use it as a learning tool with prizes instead of dollars.

9) The current horse racing networks seem to cater to hard-core fans and don’t take a local approach

Strategy/First Steps: Between daily simulcasts, two full time networks, local broadcasts, and the current schedule of races slated for national and regional TV, the distribution outlets are already teed up.

My comment on why the two national networks have limited success is that these outlets do not connect with local racing fans, regional programming would be more effective. I think they need to reverse their approach, think local and start covering the sports at the grass roots level.

10) The Governing bodies don’t have the clout to unite the sport

Strategy/First Steps: There needs to be a single cohesive, empowered marketing and media organization that represents the industry. The current media landscape and new powerful social media outlets create new opportunities to reach potential fans. There’s a reason all the major leagues, NASCAR, and the PGA have large Entertainment, Production, Marketing and Business Operations and have networks run by the leagues.

After passing up the Turf Paradise opportunity, I ended up spending 18 years at the NBA, launched NBA TV, started-up the OKC Thunder’s Broadcasting Department / Digital Media Operations and learned the power of a coordinated Broadcasting and Multimedia effort. In my opinion it’s the first step to start reinventing the sport of horse racing.

***********************************************************************************************************************************

Ken Adelson is founder of Adelson Sports Productions / Media Forward and former SVP of Production Operations for NBA Entertainment and Executive Producer for OKC Thunder Basketball.