Today is National Pixelvision Day, and the festivities will last from 7 pm ET to after midnight. Enhanced coverage is available here. If you'd like to get involved, shuttle down.
PAWTUCKET, R.I. -- An old hippie once proclaimed that information wants to be free. He was a publisher whose dead-tree publication eventually folded. Me, I think Stewart Brand was wrong -- information doesn't give a s___, and it lacks the self-awareness necessary to dream that big. This is all in the eye of the consumer. We want information to be free, or at least part of a subsidized public domain. That tension will not go away.
College basketball Pixelvision feeds generally fall into one of two categories: in-home rips of national cable networks, or arena transmissions from colleges that are generally patched with play-by-play radio calls. When watching a television broadcast in a 480-pixel box, one is subject to the same commercial messages as the folks watching on their 40-inch LCD screens. (Advertisers are the chaperones on the provider-consumer dinner date, the ones who generally pay the tab.) On Pixelvision, these are extra impressions, extra "eyeballs," that the people in Bristol and elsewhere hadn't factored into their ad rates. You could say that this would make ad space more valuable and desirable. But the real reason they're ungrateful about this is that they're double dipping, charging cable and satellite providers to offset costs. Ads just aren't enough anymore. Maybe the real problem is that rights fees are too high to be sustainable.
Jumbotron feeds are usually sold as part of direct packages from the schools or conferences, and ten dollars per game seems to be the going rate. The idea there is that this is such rare and coveted information that a small subset of people will pay a premium for it. This business model doesn't seem to work that well either, if only for the reason that the feed streams aren't properly protected. This is one area where conferences like the Horizon League are well ahead of the curve: they give it away for free and spread the costs between corporate sponsors and the schools. In so doing, the barriers to entry and interest are stripped away. Which, if you're trying to grow a brand name, is the whole point.
What is the value of a single Pixelvision broadcast? How much would you pay? We asked this question on this day one year ago, and the answers we received were the expected ones: nothing, zero cents, wouldn't watch if it cost money, etcetera. Pixelvision doesn't care if it's free, because it currently exists whether we pay or not. The value comes through aggregation: directories that point the way to where to find it. Other examples of aggregators that index information regardless of legality are Google, Wikipedia, and the old Whole Earth Catalog. That was Brand's magazine. It was reader-funded, just like us.
It's National Pixelvision Day again, friends. Stay hungry, stay foolish, and stay pixelated.
Colonial: Two bids? Barring a Towson uprising of unforeseen proportions, of course. Who among the Old Dominion-Virginia Commonwealth-George Mason axis gets those Dance ducats remains to be seen, but there are still five weeks of intrigue between now and then. And the tension is high with results like Northeastern's 91-80 ice bowl victory over VCU last night. (Or, rather, ice balls... Chaisson Allen, our favorite CAA player right now, with a career-high 26.) Our train got cancelled so we couldn't make it, but we got to enjoy the G!O!T!N! in the comfort of our mailing address. George Mason, which is now lord of the Association, tore apart Hofstra 87-68 as Isaiah Tate shut down the Pride's Chuckwagon. ODU, meanwhile, beat Delaware but was upstaged by a visit from the "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" television show. Not exactly the TMM demographic, but we love Xzibit's other work.
Missouri Valley: The Valley simply didn't get much of anything out of non-conference -- exactly one win each against the Big Six, and a pair against the Mountain West. Northern Iowa has four of those eight, and while they're not victories that stand out on a selection sheet (most are of the triple-digit RPI variety), the Panthers could bolster their at-large profile just by beating Wichita State and Missouri State again in St. Louis. Provided, that is, if the other two teams clear out the rest of the league too. That's basically where the very, very slim two-bid chances are, and UNI holds the key.
So. Missouri State isn't doing itself any favors in a scenario like that right now, losing two in a row to sink into a third-place tie. Last night, the Bears dropped a 77-65 decision at Evansville, a game in which Mo-State's primary flaw (defense) was exposed. Cuonzo Martin's team allows the second-worst defensive field goal percentage anyway (46.1 percent), but the Aces shot 55 percent on Wednesday. (And look out, Evansville has won six of seven.) Those Panthers, however, escaped their second-division test, using nine superhoops to barely escape feisty Illinois State at home, 53-51.
Atlantic 14: As mentioned previously, you're probably not going to even get the ball up the floor against Duquesne (national best 28 percent opponent turnover rate). Nowadays, you probably won't make it to the free throw line either. In last night's 84-59 wipeout of George Washington, the Dukes committed 13 fewer fouls, and was minus-12 against Dayton on Sunday. So, at the very least, I guess they have the respect of the league's officials now. And with Xavier's 66-62 loss on white out night down in Charlotte, Ron Everhart's team has first place all to themselves. On the other end of the A-14, Fordham and Saint Joseph's have to share. Hard, hard times on Hawk Hill these days, and Phil Martelli has taken to lashing out at the online throngs calling for his removal.
"You're really brave," Martelli was saying Saturday at the Palestra, "when you are anonymous... It's not from anywhere. You know what I mean? It's from the netherworld. It's not people who have been in the fray. And I understand that."
But those who choose to show their faces have shown plenty of wit. One of the best Philly rollouts of recent years occurred at the Temple-SJU game last weekend: "It's the Big 5, not the Big 5-15."
Southland: Most fans want to see dominance, excellence, whatever. Lone rangers above the fray, winning duels, ruling the streets. But give us a good old-fashioned saloon brawl, with rolling ragtime piano and chairs breaking over people's heads. That's the 2011 Southland, cowboys and cowgirls.
And sure, the school with that actual nickname (McNeese, that is) is up ahead of the Eastern pack right now at 5-2. The rest is chaos. Pretty awesome chaos, too. Last night in Nicholls State's second-half runaway 72-52 win over Corpus Christi, junior guard Fred Hunter went off for 26 points (12-for-15) and 13 rebounds on a night that Anatoly Bose, the nation's 11th-leading scorer, was held to 12. Then there was Southeastern Louisiana. The Lions got 32 points from senior guard Trent Hutchin, but beat Lamar at the buzzer on a tip-in of a missed Hutchin shot. It was senior Gary Dixon's only bucket of the game. Total craziness.
For that, we'll have to go to the Tempo-Free Aerial again. Don't make me do it, don't make me do it!
Here's how to take part. First, you'll need to get on Twitter. Send a message to @midmajority (by putting that in the message) requesting a game assignment. We will "tweet" you back a game and a link sometime today. Let us know what time you're available. But if you request a specific conference or region, we will probably not give it to you. National Pixelvision Day is about experiencing something you haven't before. If you're an OVC fan, for instance, isn't this a good time to acquaint yourself with the Patriot League? We are in this together, all of us and each of us.
Read the stats, get accustomed to the teams, and then when the game begins, tweet as much as you can about the game action, the quality of the broadcast, the bands, the announcers, the arena, anything that you find interesting. Remember to drop score updates too. If you are hitting Twitter's hourly limit, you are doing it right. In each tweet, make sure and include the hashtag #pixelvision.
We will hold a CoverItLive chat (like the Chat Blocks) here on the site tonight beginning at 7 pm ET, where we'll aggregate all the pixelvision tweets and talk in more than 140 characters. We will have a rock-and-roll halftime show at approximately 9:30 pm, with a special guest.
Please be advised that not every game will be on Pixelvision, and most feeds will become available late in the afternoon. Thanks again for being a part of this, it's going to be fun. ("Pixelvision" lyrics by Jerry Beach)