Our fourth member is really our first. The real driving force in the TV on your PC Sports Club is Michael Bean. When you think of the Pittsburgh Steelers, the phrase “six-time world champions” is synonymous. But for many Steeler fans, the Steelers-dedicated sports blog, Behind the Steel Curtain, also comes to mind.
But Michael, the blog’s manager and writer, resides in Seattle – thousands of miles away from Steeler-mania and he has no cable TV. Yet, his passion for the Steelers and the tight community of fans keep him up at night (literally) while juggling grad school and jobs in technology communication.
Michael chatted with us about living in Seattle as a Steeler’s fan, the rewards of being a sports blogger and how he watches TV on his PC for sports content. He is also been leading the chart in giving us insight into the mind of sports fans and their TV viewing experience and thanks to him we expanded upon the idea of forming a sports club for TV on Your PC. Thanks, Michael!
What do you love the most about sports blogging?
The built-in communal ‘togetherness’ of following a favorite team, through the good times and the bad. It’s common practice to not allow religion or politics or any other polarizing topic to seep into sports blogs. Because of that, I can just go about writing about the team I love while building and fostering a community that’s conducive to others stepping up to share their version of the same story. It’s a hard work but lots of fun.
What’s the biggest story you’ve had about the Steelers?
Well, living how ever many thousands of miles Pittsburgh is away from Seattle, it’s not frequently that I will break a story. Instead I focus on writing rather than chasing down stories, knowing that either I or a reader will post information about fresh news within minutes.
That said, it was a tremendous honor to have two members of the organization in particular on the site though, for interviews. One was Art Rooney, Jr., the son of the Steelers’ original founder and the master mind behind perhaps the greatest decade of drafting in the history of the game during the 1970s. He called the site ‘thoughtful discussion with a sense of history.’ That was a thrill for us! And it was cool to have on long time RB coach Dick Hoak, who spent 45 years with the team as a player and coach. There have been other interviews that were enjoyable, but those two stand out.
How has your TV viewing experience changed over time?
I used to watch television for an hour or two just for the heck of it at least 4-5 nights a week all throughout college and for a few years after. I don’t really miss it. I of course will still make arrangements to watch the sporting events I want to watch, but the other stuff hasn’t been hard to give up. It’s just as enjoyable to browse the internet for videos, either made by professionals or amateurs. It’s fun for me personally to have control over what I’m looking for on the internet rather than being beholden to what the networks are showing. But at the risk of sounding redundant, the future must continue to bring fresh, captivating and premium content that sports fans demand.
What do you think about the whole idea of watching TV on your computer? And what platforms do you use?
Watching TV on my computer is totally natural and enjoyable to me. It’s amazing how fast we adapt when forced to. I wasn’t ‘forced’ to give up my subscription to DirecTV, but I had it for the NFL Sunday Ticket package. When I learned I couldn’t have a satellite where I lived, I made the decision I’d just as well save my money rather than paying $50-$100 for mostly unappealing content.
I watched quite a few Steelers games this past year on several .tv sites where I’d be streaming the game out of somebody’s living room in some unknown market. I’m not entirely sure of the legalities of this quite honestly, but regardless, as an experience, it was just fine. I was already on my blog interacting with my readers in a post I throw up each week during the games so it was an easy transition.
I recently discovered Windows Media Center and have enjoyed a number of the content options already available on it. But as the saying goes, content is king. If platforms can continue to provide either A) the games themselves or B) nicely packaged recaps with worthwhile commentary and other good interactive features, then I think the future is very bright. I’m pretty excited to see what the coming distribution deals will be on Windows Media Center and other platforms around the ‘net.
How do you think sports fans are changing their TV viewing habits given the whole transition to online TV?
Well, not sure I can speak for everyone but one short anecdote that illustrated to me the potential. On NFL.com after this year’s Super Bowl (the Steelers are the new leader in the clubhouse with 6 Lombardi Trophys!), there was some amazing video content. Most notably was a 21 minute clip that featured all the pregame hoopla, the games highlights, and some really awesome audio from the players and coaches throughout the game. I guess the league puts mics on them for these kinds of things and it’s really well received and by us fans. Anyway, it was the whole package that made it so great and I could easily see how it would be possible to have this kind of content available online each week, not just for the Super Bowl. The question of course is how to get a behemoth like the National Football League to share the distribution rights of its precious game footage. Football is the biggest sport in America though. I can easily see popular but not as enormous sports being very eager to find innovative new ways to package their content to reach an audience that’s increasingly tethered to their computers and the internet.
Major sports media networks try to capture as big an audience possible. That means forays into fringe pop culture, the flavor of the day niche counter culture sport (X Games, MMA, etc) and basically not enough time devoted to the team and games we want.
That varies for each individual, but that’s kind of the point. Why watch a platform that is maybe devoting 5-20% to the team and sport you like? Sure the other sports are interesting but given a choice, would you not choose to devote 80-90% of your time to your favorite team and game and leave that 10% for the other content you find less interesting?
I think that it’s a worthwhile comparison to think about blogs and how and why they arrived in the first place. Sports fans were basically tired of not getting any information about their favorite team unless they lived in the city where a beat reporter was covering the team from. So we did something about it and started blogging ourselves. With the help of social media platforms to self organize around what we like, and the availability of large amounts of relevant information online, us fans are now able to be active agents in molding a big part of the fan experience. And it’s why TV on your PC will succeed in the future.