The fun part about personal blogs is that you pretty much get to write about whatever the eff you like, so pardon me here while I go off on a mini rant as I watch the individual fields take on Murph at CrossFit Games, live on ESPN3.
Every year the comments section on every single social media platform fills with people whining that they can’t see the Games online via ESPN3 because you have to have a paid subscription to a cable provider.
FUN FACT: The term ‘streaming’ does not automatically equal ‘free’.
Yet, because Regionals are streamed free of charge via the Games site and YouTube, fans seem to get their nano laces in a knot over the fact that once the Games roll around, they need to pony up a username and password to view the content they desire.
Netflix isn’t free. Why? Because they pay for the rights to stream specific shows and movies via their online platform. Hulu isn’t free. Because they pay for the rights to stream specific shows and movies via their online platform. ESPN3 isn’t free. Why?
Say it with me, folks… because they pay for the rights to stream the CrossFit Games via their online platform.
While cord-cutting is becoming a more widespread trend in at-home media consumption, the fact of the matter is that the rights for content (and the production costs to go with it) come at a premium.
The fact that CrossFit is streaming ANY Games coverage in the US on Facebook live is a real treat for anyone who refuses to pay for cable.
When you cut the cord and opt not to pay for certain cable channels, you are opting to limit your own access to the content that those channels provide, all those Real Housewives and American Pickers and the Kardashians too.
It’s the nature of CrossFit’s having successfully grown a profitable, nationally-recognized event. Mens’ masters division made the SportsCenter Top 10 the other day. Lauren Fisher is all over the Nike store. CF is going mainstream, and the fact of the matter that ESPN has a huge subscriber base who will flip on the network just for ‘sports’.
ESPN is bringing eyeballs to the sport of fitness that wouldn’t otherwise cruise on over to YouTube to specifically watch a bunch of fit people pick things up and put them down for time.
If you’re hungry, you can eat off the McD’s dollar menu, or you can fork over a lot more than that for a lobster roll at a fancy restaurant.
Regionals coverage is primitive. Games coverage is NOT. I am very familiar with the technology that CrossFit is using to create these broadcasts (it’s up there with Monday Night Football), and let me tell you that IT’S NOT CHEAP. But, the product is worth the watch.
CrossFit spends a ton of money to create the content. Selling the rights to ESPN helps recoup those costs, and being on the ESPN platform provides a ton of national exposure that the Games otherwise wouldn’t have gotten.
For those who want to argue that the NFL, NBA, etc are free on the 3-letter networks like NBC, CBS and ABC… the ad revenue brought in by airing those events creates the income to cover rights fees and production costs. Said revenue on 3-letter networks is higher because they appeal to the most eyeballs across the nation because they are indeed free to watch.
It’s business. CrossFit is no longer a local comp in a garage in Aromas. CrossFit is big time, and big time means BUSINESS – in the most literal sense of the word.