I still haven’t gotten to the Hack 30 enough to publish anything on it today, and I kind of got distracted yesterday by an interesting media story. In case you missed it, the New York Times intends to put up a pay wall on their website, which will affect anybody who wants to read more than 20 articles per month. They seem to be making a bet that one of two things will happen. The first is that their readers won’t be able to live without their content, and they’ll pay. This assumes that their content really is better than what consumers can get elsewhere, and maybe it is in some cases.
The other possible outcome is that other newspapers will follow their lead and institute pay walls of their own, thus creating a new equilibrium where people pay for internet content and the Times still rules the roost based upon their prestige and presumable content advantage.
The way that content gets to people is something I’m interested in and want to start a discussion about today. Here at IAOFM, we haven’t even chosen to deploy any advertising at this point; but obviously, most websites are making their revenue on either a per-impression (meaning pageview), or per-engagement (meaning the clicking of a link) basis. Pretty much anybody can put up a website, enable Google AdSense and make a few bucks with it. By “a few”, I literally mean a few, unless you’re getting a lot of pageviews. My total AdSense payout for four months' worth of SmarterFans.com was about $41, which didn’t even cover my hosting fees.
A Navy buddy of mine named Billy Gamble recently asked if I thought there would be a lockout that would affect the 2011 season. He couched the question in terms of his own outrage with paying $8 for a beer, and I think that's a fairly common and reasonable fan reaction:
I spend a lot of money on football, so what the hell is the problem? Why would there even be talk of a lockout? Isn't there enough money coming in right now for everybody to get a fair piece? I mean, come on, 8 freaking dollars for a beer?
The short answer is, no, I don't think there will be a lockout that causes any games not to be played. It's possible-to-likely, though, that a lockout occurs which delays the start of the new NFL year, and makes things which are normally orderly, like free agency and offseason workouts, a bit chaotic.
I decided that I'd talk extensively today about NFL economics, and move from that into a discussion about the real issues in this collective bargaining negotiation. As usual, my assumption is that my readers are smart enough to understand all of this, but I realize that there may be some detailed questions which you may have. I'll be glad to answer those in the comments.
First, let's talk about some accounting concepts, at a really basic level. This is obviously what I do for a living, and it can get very complicated, but, for now, I'm only going to touch on stuff which frankly everybody should understand, and which a shocking number of people misunderstand.
The first key term is revenue, which is the top line of any income statement. Revenue simply means gross income received for goods and services. The $8 for the beer, the $200 for the ticket, and the $1 billion that DirecTV pays each year for Sunday Ticket rights all end up as revenue. All current-term and future cash inflows related to business operations become revenue.
I’m pretty excited about the hiring of John Fox. He wasn’t my first choice, but when Gregg Williams declined to be interviewed, I started to warm to Fox over Perry Fewell.
I’ve said this a few times, but I’ll do it again. While I ordinarily favor offensive coaches, this Broncos football team was screaming for a guy who leans to defense. After all of the ridiculous turnover on that side of the ball, coupled with a non-systemic approach to player acquisition under the Shanahan regime running into a short-lived McDaniels regime, there are a lot of mismatched parts that don’t play with much cohesion. I think that getting one system in place, and playing it for a long time, and acquiring players specifically to fit it will be hugely beneficial.
Here’s the thing, though. John Fox isn’t a system guy, really. He’s a football guy, who manages the whole team, and leaves the systems and the play-calling to his coordinators. His overall framework, though, is one that emphasizes toughness, preparation, execution, and intelligence. The Broncos got a decent start on becoming tougher and more physical under the McDaniels regime, but there’s still a ways to go, and Fox will always push for getting more physical, on both sides of the ball.
I’d like to tell you a story, because, let’s face it, I always set up my football articles with personal stories which may or may not be relevant to my chosen football topic. You know what, though? It’s my platform, and I get to say what I want. This story takes place last Wednesday, December 29th, in lovely Cleveland, Ohio. I like the Christmas season, without actually liking the holiday itself. The reason I like it is that a lot of my closest friends who’ve skipped town for jobs, or spouses, or whatever, come home for the holidays.
Have you ever noticed how bad the Broncos are at defending the screen game? Seemingly, for years, it’s been a consistent weakness. The main reason is that they have mostly had to rush more than four men to get any pressure on the opposing Quarterback. A secondary cause is that the Broncos have rarely fielded good tackling teams over the last 25 years or so. Even in today’s victory against the Texans, numerous screens were successfully run against the Broncos. It’s frustrating, isn’t it?
The other side of that coin is how you can frustrate the other team by maximizing the effectiveness of your own screen game. This has never really been an area of strength for the Broncos, either, over the last 25 years. The reason why is the Quarterback, going back to John Elway, and continuing through the recently-ended Kyle Orton era. The Broncos just haven’t ever had guys who were very comfortable or consistent with setting up the screen game, so a potentially devastating weapon has often not been used much.
So yesterday, I played outside football consultant, and I remade the Broncos football organization. Today, I change gears, and become something intangible called consensus. It’s March 1, 2011, and we’re on the precipice of a talent acquisition cycle that could make this Broncos team improve very quickly. We have a new defensive scheme to work on staffing, and since it’s the Head Coach Gregg Williams’ scheme, we have some confidence that it’s there to stay for awhile, unlike the recent past. The offense will be slightly different too, under Pete Carmichael, Jr., but most of the key players are in place right now for it to be successful.
This exercise assumes that the Collective Bargaining Agreement gets figured out timely, which may or may not happen. In any case, there will eventually be a free agency period, and a Draft, and we’re going to work through all of that stuff now. Here goes.
I’m nowhere near Jesus-like. I mean, hell, if you’re talking about the Christian portrayal of the historical figure Jesus Christ, I can’t even grow a full beard, and I’m already the same age that that Jesus is reported to have died at. If you’re talking about The Jesus, I’ve never had to register as a sex offender and go door-to-door, and I’m not too good at bowling. (My strategy: Use the heaviest ball they have, and throw it straight as hard as I can.) TJ “The Dude” Johnson’s cat, Jesus Quintana? I’m not like him either. For one thing, I’m badly allergic to cats, and for another, I decline to predict the outcomes of football games, or other complex future events. I don’t even really like fish. You get it. I’m nothing like Jesus.
Last week I ripped the Broncos fan base for being spoiled, and I included myself in that cohort. We are exactly that, because in team history, it has never rebuilt. It initially built for a long time, did well for 30 years, faded, and now needs to be rebuilt for the first time ever. We’ve covered this, and I feel like my continually talking about the perils and stupidity of unannounced rebuilding has spread the word to others, who are also talking about it.
I believe that Monday may have been the darkest day in franchise history. That occurred to me within minutes of learning of the firing of Josh McDaniels, and I’ve now spent over 24 hours considering whether I’m being overly hyperbolic. As I said on Twitter Sunday, my words count in perpetuity, so I’m careful-ish of what I say. I don’t think I am overdoing it, friends. Let’s consider what really just happened.
I’m a total multitasker, and technology has made me worse. Twitter is one of my diversions at times, and I’d say I use it very sporadically, unlike a lot of people who use it all day. Today, I was relaxing in my bathroom, taking care of some things, you know how it is, and I fired up the old Tweetdeck on my iPhone 4 to let my mind have something to do. I happened across the following Tweet from my good pal Adam Schein.
I’ve been feeling pretty hostile toward a large part of the Broncos fan base lately. I used to think that we were a really educated and reasonable fan base. Through the magic of Twitter, I’ve learned that neither is actually the case. Broncos fans, by-and-large, are tremendously spoiled, and short-sighted. They don’t know much about football, and they don’t try too hard to learn about it from resources like It’s All Over Fat Man and Mile High Report. (The Broncos MSM only has negativity and obviousness to contribute, of course.)
On that note, here’s the ever-growing media narrative: the Denver Broncos are on the wrong track because their young egomaniac coach has set out to destroy a once-proud team. Doug Farrar from the often-craptastic Football Outsiders grew up in Denver, and this is the truth, according to him. Mark Kiszla thinks Josh McDaniels looks like a beaten man. (Which for Mark, would be a big success!) This whole thing reminds me of when noted assholes TJ Simers and Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times successfully ran Dodgers’ GM Paul DePodesta out of LA after 2 years. They hated the young, Harvard educated, Moneyball-reared DePodesta, and called him Google Boy, like knowing how to use The Google is a bad thing. Luckily, Pat Bowlen said Monday that it’s not going to work.