Blues blackout: Battery fall 2-1, no one sees it

Blues blackout: Battery fall 2-1, no one sees it

Los Angeles forward Matt Fondy scored two goals in the first half, Dane Kelly scored his team-leading 9th goal of 2013 in the 80th minute, and the Blues held off a late Battery surge Thursday night to earn a 2-1 win at UC Irvine.

Other than that, there’s not much I can tell you right now, since I didn’t get to watch the match, thanks to some vague technical difficulties in Los Angeles. And it’s not that Andrew Bell isn’t the best play-by-play radio guy in the league. It’s that there’s simply nothing of value that I can write about a game based on listening to someone else describe it.

And I know that the wise thing to do at this point is just let this slide. But screw it. Though this is the worst of the livestream problems this season, it’s not like livestream problems aren’t a regular occurrence.

I know that feels bad. I’m sure several people really made an effort to fix the problem.

But I’ve done video and audio production for the web. There are always half a dozen things that can go wrong. At least. And when you know that, the way that you keep those things from blacking out your live stream is:

No. 1: You check and double-check your equipment and your connections before you go live; and 

No. 2: You give a damn, from top to bottom. Which means you don’t except a half-assed shrug from the technician who let things go south. Or blamethrowing excuses from whatever executive decided to skimp on the necessary equipment, training and preparation.

I understand that there’s precious little money available for quality at the club level and the league level. I get it. This is tight-budget soccer, and people have to struggle to make ends meet.

But the Battery’s feed is consistent and good. Harrisburg has a solid feed. Orlando does it right. We got a workable live feed from Portland in the Open Cup just by fussing about it on Twitter.  So don’t tell me it can’t be done.

I’m not buying it.

I’ve only got two other qualifications for this opinion, so take it for what it’s worth. First, I’m a season-ticket-holding fan. Not only do I want to see the Battery succeed — as a team and as a franchise — I want to see lower-tier soccer grow and improve in North America. I want to see it provide jobs and opportunities. I want to see it get treated as a legitimate enterprise. And second, I pay more attention to these things than most, because I’ve spent this season trying to improve the coverage the Battery receives. I’m convinced USL PRO soccer is more interesting and exciting than its mainstream media coverage. It’s full of more great stories than I can get around to writing. So don’t talk to me about “low budget.” I have no budget.

And yes, the best solution for that is money. Money makes everything easier. But unless someone’s got a bunch of free cash to toss at these issues, then the league has two immediate problem it needs to address:

No. 1: We need better, more consistent officiating.

No. 2: Forget about soccer-specific stadiums. If the league is going to award a franchise, it needs some kind of better assurance that the new club is going to do a credible job of managing its web media obligations. The LA Blues website has been broken since I wrote the preview for the July 27 match. It’s still just as broken, and completely unchanged. So why am I not surprised that this outfit can’t put out a functional livestream?

Look, if you can’t make your product visible on the web, you’re not going to be taken seriously. And all it takes is one franchise that doesn’t deliver once in a while, or that serves up utterly undecipherable low-res crap week after week, with indifferent, amateurish announcers, and every other team in the league suffers an image hit. This is your product. If you make it look like shit, it doesn’t matter what else you do.

Enough. Game wrap this weekend, after the Phoenix match.

8 Comments

  1. Oh, don’t even get me started on “consistent” officiating. The refs Away are all homers, while the refs at Home are too chicken to give us calls in the fear of being called homers! Plus, you have linesmen who call the offside from 5 and 10 yards behind the play… It’s not USL that should fix the problem, it’s US Soccer, and CONCACAF in general. Officiating here is laughable, and everyone knows it.

    And the fact we couldn’t get a stream was ridiculous. This is LA we’re talking about. They should have enough money to put on a stream for us.

    • Well said, John. You are absolutely correct about the referee situation and the linesmen don’t seem to know the rule for offside calls. I have seen the linesman be directly across from me where I am sitting and have 2 or 3 defenders 10 or 15 yards closer to their own goal of that position. Our person is even with the linesman when the ball is played. No way is that offsides, but that’s how it’s called.

  2. There’s a reason LA is pretty much irrelevant. They get like a hundred people a game. I wonder if their organization really cares. The team has had a good year but the support is just awful

    • You gotta figure Los Angeles is a tough sell, in a way, for lower-league soccer. Two MLS franchises. Sprawling mega-city. I mean, Fullerton is like 25 miles from downtown L.A., so that’s like driving from Charleston to Summerville. And Irvine is another 25 miles. Hell, call them the “Irvine Blues,” or the “Newport Beach Blues.” At least you’d be appealing to a sense of local ownership and representation. Tough situation.

      • If that was the case, there should be a re-brand

  3. preach on Brother Dan.

    I would happily pay for a dependable and decent quality feed. I do know the league fines clubs that can not put up a feed. but there should be a standard to be meet on the quality. Tampa’s feed was barely watchable, just blobs of red and blue. Rochester feed looks good but I have yet watch a match where the audio was sync’d with the video. sometimes it is 20 second difference.

    • Well, it’s probably a touchy subject, if only because each club is basically tasked with making it possible for the visiting club’s fans to follow the match online. Clubs that are struggling to draw fans to their home matches simply can’t be all that motivated to make their web stream all that reliable. It’s not really a revenue-generating activity for the clubs, although Harrisburg works with a local video production company to livestream its matches, so there are ad in its stream. You would think it’s probably more of a league priority than a a club priority, and with some of those clubs balanced on the edge of a knife, I can see why the league isn’t kicking their asses.

      But there are just so many reasons why quality live web video is key to the future of the league. It means that you can be a fan and follow the team for its full schedule, each year. It means you can organize an official watch-party bar, like Molly Darcy’s has been this year. It means the league office has better material to use in the Goals of the Week mashup, as well as the various multimedia that Nicholas Murray does.

      So anyway, here’s the bottom line: It’s never going to be reliable so long as the production requirements (equipment, connection, staffing) remain non-standard and the funding is simply an additional cost. And since the priority is a league priority, and the audience is largely the away audience, then why not have the league develop a standard technical production package and a standard “broadcast” format, and then push the league and the individual clubs to sell sponsorships and ads that would appear on the HOST team’s webcast. Such as: when LA hosts Charleston next year, the the webcast would be formatted to accept a rotation of onscreen sponsor messages from national sponsors acquired by the league (say, Nike and Bimbo) as well as local sponsors from Charleston and Irvine. So maybe Molly Darcy’s buys a sponsorship to remind people that they could be watching the game at their place with a group, or maybe one of the soccer stores in Mount Pleasant buys a sponsor message. Or Angie Gainey Bailey — a name that’s totally associated with the Battery now — picks up the spot. And then the local team would have slots that they could fill as well.

      You couldn’t do that efficiently UNLESS the technical foundations were standardized and the graphic template is uniform. But it’s do-able.

  4. My question is this. If you go to UNation, you can watch the LA Blues vs Charleston Battery game from start to finish. Someone had to provide that film in order for the game to be there. If that is the case, why couldn’t we view the match?

    I agree with Dan that the league needs to do something about this. Fans need to be able to follow their teams when they are playing on the road.