Will the future of TV start with sports?

Last night I was at dinner with about dozen people last night in Cambridge. The dinner was organized by the folks at MITX (I’m not a member but they were nice enough to invite me).

Gary Vaynerchuk was at the dinner and he talked about the future of the “middle-man” and went through a number of examples.

Gary thought outloud about the future of ESPN as more leagues go direct to the consumer following in the footsteps of MLB. ESPN’s role could very well evolve to an important social commentary & voice on sports rather than being in the exclusive content business. While the timing is unclear it’s hard to argue with that observation.

MLB has been pioneering direct to consumer for some time. I love  MLB.TV. As a Yankee fan living in Boston it’s an amazing service.

And yesterday, Henry Blodget wrote about the US Open web experience.

Henry lists the super sweet features of the USOpen.org

  • Live coverage of 5 (five) matches at once! You, the viewer, pick which one to watch.
  • Competent commentary of all matches. No idiot big-name broadcast personality who knows nothing about tennis oohing and ahhing about all the racket-waving.
  • No ads. Okay, that won’t last, but it’s nice while it does.  (There are ads on the individual matches, but you can always use them as a chance to check out other matches).
  • No annoying cable company dictating what you can and can’t watch and when.
  • No annoying broadcast network refusing to pre-empt the Today Show and therefore showing all matches on tape delay.
  • One simple source for the feed: The event’s site. This instead of the usual TV headache: (which network? when’s it on?, what will they show?)  The feeds here are apparently produced by the Tennis Channel and ESPN.  But you don’t have to know that to watch.

I “tuned” in (ie clicked over) and was blown away. It really is amazing.

The direct to consumer trend is important one. And I like that live sports is showing us the way.