Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, October 23, 2021

positives, negatives
Since when does the mega-popular National Basketball Association mimic its weak sister, the National Hockey League?

When there’s sponsorship money involved, of course. Behold the NBA’s version of hockey’s plus-minus stat — on steroids:

From a fan perspective, the change will be noticeable in the creation of the Lenovo Stat, a new measurement that looks to quantify teamwork—both offensive and defensive—in much the same way as the National Hockey League’s plus/minus statistic. The NHL counts the goals scored when a particular player is on the ice, and subtracts from that number the goals scored against his team while he’s playing.

The NBA’s new statistic will be compiled by crediting all players with their teams’ points scored while they’re on the floor. They are then debited the points scored by the opposition while they’re in the game. In a major feat of number crunching, all 1-, 2-, 3-, 4- and 5-man combinations will be analyzed across the league.

The measurement doesn’t count rebounds or assists—or any other variable—but “this single stat tells you the most effective combination of players,” said Lenovo Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Deepak Advani. It has the distinct feel of “sabermetric” analysis and the computerized “search for objective knowledge about [a sport]” that analyst Bill James wrote about in his 1988 Baseball Abstracts. The approach was made famous in the 2003 book “Moneyball.”

You can see a screenshot of the team-aggregate pluses and minuses here. That should give many a stat maven a nice warm feeling.

The real story here, though, is the creation of a new statisitcal measure solely as a result of corporate sponsorship. Lenovo ponied up the dough, and it got its company name irremovably implanted into the game’s scoresheet — truly prime real estate. It’s way better than grafting a new name onto a pre-existing stat column that has a history; this is the equivalent of the now-standard practice of securing naming rights to a newly-built stadium. (I guess any diehard anti-corporate types can insist on rejecting the name “Lenovo Stat” and subbing in “plus-minus”, but they’ll be a permanent minority.)

I’m not sure there’s been another instance of a brand-new stat being cooked up just in response to business reasons, at least not on the major-pro level. In this sense, the NBA is blazing a new, more invasive trail in sports business marketing.

I’d like to use this development as an opportunity to announce that the naming rights to this blog’s newly-instituted NHL Special Teams Index weekly tally is open to corporate sponsorship. I didn’t exactly invent it, but in the hopes that Lenovo’s actions will inspire other companies to toss dollars at any other novel statistical presentations, I’ll gladly take the credit. I’m thinking “NHL Special K Special Teams Index” has a nice cha-ching ring to it…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/23/2006 11:38:36 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Basketball, Hockey
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While movie sequels, with their built-in returning audiences, remain sure-fire moneymakers — regardless of how good or bad they turn out — a new, targeted survey indicates it’s better to stay away from the traditional numbering system in those follow-up films:

Movie audiences prefer sequels with names to those with numbered titles, according to a paper in the October Journal of Consumer Research. In one study, subjects were shown a made-up movie title —“Daredevil 2” or “Daredevil: Taking It to the Streets” — and asked to read a plot summary. Those who saw the second title spent more time reading the summary, remembered more, and rated the hypothetical movie more highly.

That proposed Daredevil sequel was previously used in a wider study of more effective movie marketing. It seems this research is ongoing. It’s already bearing results, in the form of the ever-longer movie titles that were so preponderant this past summer.

My own theory for why this is so effective:

Still, I can see logic: Not using the numeral assuages that audience segment that suspects a milking of an already-done concept, while still delivering valuable familiarity to fans of the original. It’s win-win.

I don’t know if the stats reveal this, but I have a feeling that numbers in a movie title are more a turn-off for older viewers. They’ve seen that device for too many years, and have been burned too many times by crappy movies, that they’re now jaded to it. Younger moviegoers, on the other hand, haven’t experienced as many letdowns, and so are likely more charitable toward the numbered titles.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/23/2006 10:28:54 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Movies
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gimme five
Hard to believe today marks the fifth year since Apple’s iPod burst on the scene.

Only five years for the little device to achieve iconic status worldwide, enable the viability of the digital-download media retail business (not just music, but now also movies and television shows), and even making its imprint on the Web with podcasts. Not bad for a product that was generally panned when first released in 2001. It also figured to become just another Apple niche peripheral before Steve Jobs shrewdly pushed out Windows-compatible firmware, thus leading to the iPod’s ubiquity.

What’s next? Rumors of a “true” video iPod seem more like wishful thinking now. What about wi-fi?

Microsoft’s Zune player, due to hit the market soon, will boast wireless fidelity, or Wi-Fi, capabilities. The device will let users share songs from one player to the next. Apple CEO Steve Jobs has been dismissive of Zune. In a published interview he said, “It takes forever,” and “By the time you’ve gone through all that, the girl’s gotten up and left.”

Hmm… Sounds like Jobs has been trying to pick up chicks by flashing some tech-device bling. Interesting method of field testing…

It occurs to me that the iPod-Zune faceoff basically reverses the dynamic between Apple and Microsoft. When it comes to OSes, Apple routinely introduces innovations on the Mac that are subsequently copied by Microsoft in the following version of Windows. With the media players, it’s Apple that can sit back and lift any new features — in the early going, the wireless link-up — that the Zune will bring to market, provided it has mass appeal. Far from stealing market share with this “killer app”, Microsoft’s basically going to be an unintentional guinea pig for Apple. Further example of how much the iPod has changed the game in the computer industry.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 10/23/2006 10:00:36 PM
Category: History, Tech, iPod
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