Cheers to Cleve­land’s his­toric streak, jeers to DAZN

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - Fol­low Tom Mayenknecht at: Twit­ter.com/TheS­portMar­ket TOM MAYENKNECHT

BULL OF THE WEEK

You know you’re mak­ing his­tory when you’re chas­ing a record set by a club more than a cen­tury ago.

That’s ex­actly what this week’s most bullish fran­chise in all of pro­fes­sional sport — base­ball’s Cleve­land In­di­ans — were do­ing.

Af­ter pass­ing the Amer­i­can League record of 20 con­sec­u­tive wins set by the 2002 “Money­ball” Oakland A’s, they one­upped the 1935 Chicago Cubs and 1880 Chicago White Stock­ings’ marks by win­ning their 22nd straight game Thurs­day night.

That come-from-be­hind, ex­tra-in­ning, walk-off win came in the first of four games against the Kansas City Roy­als, be­fore the streak came to a halt in Game 2 of the se­ries on Fri­day night in a 4-3 loss.

Cleve­land was in pur­suit of the long­est win­ning streak in Ma­jor League Base­ball his­tory: The 26 straight won by the 1916 New York Gi­ants. The im­pres­sive run was a boon for at­ten­dance at Pro­gres­sive Field, av­er­ag­ing 24,849 per game af­ter of­ten spik­ing to north of 30,000 this month. That’s still among the bot­tom fifth in MLB but up 26 per cent over last year’s 19,650 per game and 40 per cent up on the team’s 2015 av­er­age of 17,806.

It also made the In­di­ans the clear fo­cal point of score­board watch­ing through­out MLB this week, mak­ing the club the lead story on hun­dreds of sports me­dia web­sites through­out North Amer­ica.

The key ques­tion: Can the In­di­ans fol­low up this dom­i­nant streak with their sec­ond con­sec­u­tive trip to the World Se­ries and their first MLB cham­pi­onship in 68 years?

BEAR OF THE WEEK

It’s spelled DAZN and pro­nounced “Da Zone,” but it’s been called much worse by many foot­ball fans over the past week af­ter a shaky de­but as na­tional video stream­ing rights-holder for the NFL in Canada. Week 1 was plagued by au­dio prob­lems, pix­e­lat­ing images and de­lays of three to four min­utes be­hind live TV.

All of that has earned DAZN — the self-pro­claimed Net­flix of sports — the kind of wrath un­seen from Cana­dian sports fans since the days of neg­a­tive op­tion billing in ca­ble tele­vi­sion in the 1990s. DAZN has promised to rec­tify the mul­ti­ple ser­vice is­sues that arose last week, but not be­fore tak­ing a ma­jor hit to its rep­u­ta­tion af­ter launch­ing in Canada with a $20-per-month sub­scrip­tion that’s largely tied to its NFL of­fer­ing.

It’s not only an em­bar­rass­ment for DAZN but a hot but­ton for the NFL, which awarded the U.K.-based stream­ing plat­form dig­i­tal rights to Canada for the next five years.

Yet make no mis­take: If DAZN does not re­cover by the third week of the reg­u­lar sea­son, the NFL could be forced to cough up the stream­ing deal and re­turn to the dis­tri­bu­tion of its Sun­day Ticket pack­age via Cana­dian tele­coms such as Bell and Rogers.

NFL Canada may even need to con­sider of­fer­ing Sun­day Ticket for free this sea­son, so am­a­teur­ish has been the tech­nol­ogy and ser­vice de­liv­ery of its of­fi­cial Cana­dian stream­ing provider.

None of this is a good look for the NFL — the world’s most TV-savvy league and the big­gest in­dus­try in North Amer­i­can pro­fes­sional sport with an­nual rev­enues of US$14 bil­lion — es­pe­cially given its ap­par­ent lack of due dili­gence around DAZN’S ca­pac­ity and ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

The Sport Mar­ket on TSN Ra­dio rates and de­bates the bulls and bears of sport busi­ness.

Join Tom Mayenknecht Satur­day from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. for a be­hind-the-scenes look at the sport busi­ness sto­ries that mat­ter most to fans.

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