July 27, 2008
Sounders TV deal
The Sounders announced this past week a multi year contract with KING/KONG to televise all matches that are not nationally broadcast. Thankfully, both stations broadcast in HD, so the capability is there to deliver the games in HD. I suspect most games will be on KONG, as the broadcast networks do not carry much sports programming anymore. As I’m not the only one who thought the team would end up on an RSN, one may wonder how much attention FSNW will give the club, now that their matches will not even appear on the network. With the loss of the Sonics, FSNW may not have much choice but to cover the Sounders, given that they’re now one of three major pro level teams in the area. Next up for the Sounders will be announcing their radio partner.
July 20, 2008
The Seattle-Helsinki Technology Connection
Given the prominence of various subsectors of the tech industry in both Seattle and Helsinki, such as communications, one would think there’s opportunity for collaboration between the two cities and their surrounding regions. This could be amongst entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, companies or universities. I am biased, as evidenced by my Finnish heritage, a little bit of time spent in Helsinki and currently home in Seattle.
An issue I continue to read about is the risk averse nature of parts of the Finnish business community. While entrepreneurs in the country produce many innovate ideas, one can’t help but believe they don’t all get the audience they should. The Finnish VC industry is active, yet relatively small. There might be an opportunity here for financiers in the Seattle area to explore investment ideas in Finland, especially in communications and wireless. Beyond the linkage of tech subsectors, the connection between the two cities also includes the Nordic, including Finnish, influence in Seattle thanks to the many immigrants from the region a century plus ago. Along with possible new investing opportunites for Seattle VCs, entrepreneurs in Helsinki would be able to present their ideas to a group that might have a different perspective than what is normally found in Finland.
July 13, 2008
How the Sonics’ loss could impact Seattle sports media
With the Sonics having left town, there’s the possibility that this will trigger a shake up in the local sports media landscape. Specifically, the door is open for Comcast SportsNet Northwest to move into the Puget Sound market, expanding beyond its current metro Portland base. The Trail Blazers are now the northwest’s NBA team, and would seemingly want to capitalize on the vacuum left in Seattle. Of course, jilted Sonics fans may not choose to cheer their former arch rival, regardless of all the Blazers’ Seattle ties. But CSNW could strengthen its position in the Seattle area by partnering with the Seattle Sounders, who begin their initial MLS campaign in 2009. Such an arrangement would also be a blow to Fox Sports Northwest, who despite carrying the Mariners, are weakened by the loss of the Sonics.
It just so happens that Paul Allen has ownership stakes in both the Blazers and Sounders. Some may remember Allen’s efforts to start Action Sports Network, a regional sports network based in Portland, a handful of years ago. This effort, with the Blazers as the primary programming, failed almost immediately, reportedly due to MSO’s failure to add the channel to their networks. With the Blazers and Sounders as the lead programming, Allen would have ample leverage to negotiate with Comcast for an equity piece in the network. Just like that, he will have his RSN. Comcast will have expanded CSNW to the Puget Sound market. And rival FSNW will be left with the struggling Mariners.
To take this another step, should Liberty Media decide to sell FSNW in a few years, CSNW, and perhaps Mariners’ ownership, would be in prime bidding position. If CSNW won the bidding and essentially merged FSNW programming (ie, the Mariners) into a lineup already consisting of the Blazers and Sounders, Allen and Comcast will most likely have increased the value of CSNW while leaving no rival RSN in the region.