Cheers to Cleveland’s historic streak, jeers to DAZN
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.
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