The Somerset Patriots made a large step forward this week to grow the independent baseball landscape with the launch of SPN.tv – the official media network of the team.
Here is the video clip of the highlights from the announcement:
So far the team has the infrastructure for the “Brett Jodie Show”, the “Sparky Lyle Show” and other non-game video footage. Likely games will be broadcast live through the website as well.
This brings independent baseball into some new territory, with likely short-term pitfalls. The big challenge will be to offer not just unique content everyday during the season but also content that is not so “self serving” that people will tune out except to watch games. Additionally, the team is entering a new phase for the industry where they have to be both the actual product (games, player-generated content, managerial content, etc.) but ALSO the production/editing team as well as create the infrastructure for content distribution.
Think of it as being the players, the team owners, the “hype” and “recap” shows, and the sports network all under one roof. Most likely other independent teams are watching what the Patriots do to determine if they can do it themselves down the road. This is an interesting time because the upside to the team for doing this is terrific IF all goes smoothly. Here is why:
- The team would be pioneers in terms of bringing independent baseball (primarily the Atlantic League) to the larger audience. Other independent leagues & teams would have to play catch-up, so the Patriots could claim a percentage of all revenues collected from each of the other independent teams
- With so many fans going to independent games in recent years (roughly 7.5-8 million announced attendance per year), it would be one of the first ways in which sponsors could gain access to these fans. For the entire time, since 1993, a national sponsor couldn’t easily access the independent leagues due to the fragmentation (see earlier post). This network MIGHT be the first legitimate attempt to get new sponsors into the independnet game so that sponsorship doesn’t have to be 100% based on local businesses anymore
- The ability to start to rank in the search engines for the “how to” information so desperately sought by parents and players all over North America. The Atlantic League’s managers and coaching staff members are certainly qualified to convey quality “how to” information. How the Patriots & the Atlantic League would monetize this is still TBA
- Several other ways to generate new revenues while still adding “value” to the end consumer. The biggest hurdle will be for the team to take off the “self serving” hat and add content which people are asking for all around the country. If the Patriots (or any team in this situation) can “get out of its own way” and simply create content which is being sought after by others who don’t yet know about the team then they have a chance to gain huge market share over MiLB teams AND some MLB teams in terms of earning fan loyalty and where fans spend their money. For example, many parents are unsure of which gloves to buy once their kids start playing at a level where professional-level gloves are warranted. Having Lyle, Jodie and some of the players talk about the nuances of gloves can generate new fan loyalty across the country. Fans then are likely to buy pro level gloves from the outlets that the Patriots recommend, earning the Patriots (or any team) a percentage of each glove sold. Similar new revenue streams can be generated such as those suggested here.
- Yes, with new fan loyalty across the country, it is also quite possible that the Patriots could generate lots of new merchandise sales as well!
Much more will be forthcoming as the network grows. If certain indicators of success are unique enough then they will be shared on this site because those indicators will affect how you and others perceive the concept of independent baseball. Hopefully the independent teams finally start to embrace the fact that they can grow rapidly IF they start to hire and train staff to operate as being MORE than JUST “local family-friendly entertainment” – a sentiment long expressed on this site.
There are several good books about the independent professional baseball leagues. You are welcome to see a list of suggestions through this link: Books Get notified of upcoming independent baseball tryouts from either of these services: first service or the second service. Prospective players can find some helpful resources here We will be providing a growing list of possibly helpful tips and suggestions on various baseball information. This will range from "how to" information about baseball skills all the way to helpful information for casual baseball fans. Please click the link for more information: Tips And How To Information