Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Friday, January 01, 2021

If you’re a middle-aged sci-tech geek, you too probably wax nostalgic for the long-bygone Omni Magazine.

Not that I count myself among the mourners. I definitely remember seeing Omni regularly on newsstands during the 1980s, and I’m sure I dipped into a random issue now and then. But it never grabbed me. Even then, the fanciful boosterism over the latest techie trend seemed over the top to me, best absorbed in small doses rather than as a monthly drone of whiz-bang articles.

And frankly, what replaced Omni is no better:

[By the mid-'90s,] other magazines ate their lunch: Subscribers to the newly launched Wired looked suspiciously like Omni readers who’d moved on and gotten MBAs.

Inevitably, Wired is considered Omni’s pop-sci inheritor. Certainly, it inherited its predecessor’s insufferable pro-technocratic tone, and added a distinct smugness to boot. Whereas I could ignore Omni’s pie-in-the-sky optimism, Wired delivers such a know-it-all vibe that it’s not worth fishing through that for the occasional insightful idea.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/01/2021 07:30 PM
Category: Pop Culture, Publishing, Science
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Along with catching a corker of a Winter Classic today — a thriller in which the Bruins rallied with two sweet tic-tac-toe passes to beat Philadelphia 2-1 in OT at Fenway Park — I noticed a distinct improvement in the quality of the game’s televised commercials this year. Instead of endless replays of generic national ads, sponsors like GEICO and Verizon Wireless created customized hockey-themed spots that actually looked good. A couple of those spots even feature star players like Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, thus highlighting the league’s most marketable assets.

Why the sudden boost in dedicated advertising for a hockey game? Because, improbably enough, the WC really has become the NHL’s showcase event:

In the past three years, the league’s corporate advertising revenue has jumped 66 percent and the Winter Classic is at the heart of that leap. Sports Business Daily recently reported that sports business executives ranked the Winter Classic fifth among major sporting events they were looking forward to in 2010, ahead of sporting staples like the BCS National Championship, the World Series, the Masters and the Daytona 500. The survey was taken in December and included reports from more than 1,100 senior-level sports professionals.

That’s the money people talking, which explains why extra marketing dollars went into today’s TV ads. Doubtless they’ve noticed the rising viewership:

The Classic has become a surprise TV hit, occupying the 1 p.m. Eastern time slot against three college bowl games (the Outback at 11 a.m. and the Gator and the Capital One at 1 p.m.). In 2008, an average of 3.75 million viewers watched on NBC, which was exceeded last New Year’s Day with a 17 percent jump to 4.4 million, the most-viewed regular-season N.H.L. game in 34 years. Nearly 1.3 million more watched it in Canada.

Pucks beating out baseball, college football, and NASCAR? I’m an unabashed hockey fan, and even I can’t believe it. A lot of this is due to the novelty of the New Year’s Day game, which is only in its third year; will the mindshare still be there ten years from now? Still, the success of the Winter Classic rightly stands out as a rare marketing homerun for a league that traditionally can’t promote its way out of a paper bag.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/01/2021 06:32 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Hockey, SportsBiz, TV
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period piece
This afternoon’s weather in Boston looks snowfall-free, so today’s 2010 NHL Winter Classic should go off without a hitch. But just in case, the league has a contingency plan:

A league source confirmed to ESPN.com on Thursday that it is possible the Winter Classic could only go two periods if the weather doesn’t cooperate and the game would still be deemed official. But that’s only if all else fails.

That beats watching the players slosh through on-ice snowdrifts. Still, I wonder if there isn’t a better way to guard against inclement weather. Maybe a tarp high, high above the rink? Somehow positioned so it doesn’t block out the sightlines for the nosebleed seats? It would negate the open-air hockey motif, but at least the game would proceed uninterrupted.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/01/2021 12:18 PM
Category: Hockey, Weather
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