There is a great deal of discussion about the college education bubble and for that matter economic bubbles in general. A bubble is typically defined as a mis-allocation of resources due to policies which reward the activity which leads to the bubble. Beyond the education bubble is the discussion that college sports are in a bubble, especially as it regards revenue from television contracts. Patrick Hruby has an interesting article on the sports bubble, which provides food for thought on the situation.
The big question is how to prosper in the current bubble while positioning for the future. Sporting Kansas City has developed, and continues to develop, the fan experience such that they consistently oversell the venue. Is this how college sports survive? Or is something more needed?
As Hruby's article mentions, internet distribution is in the process of supplanting the current distribution model. Can this idea carry over to a distribution of a product or brand, rather than the having a generic model that distributes for a large number of clients?
K-State currently uses a third party to host its distribution and while I think that will work in the short term, in the long term it is not a good model to use. What should K-State do now, to position itself in the future? Are there strategies that K-State can start using that will build upon the current success?
The first thing K-State needs to do is develop content on its own. K-State should start filming all sports, including tournaments hosted by the club teams, where a 3rd party does not own the rights. Build the infrastructure and content library for all sports. K-State could also extend the content library to areas beyond the sports, including different conference and speakers that take place on campus.
K-State should use as many students as possible while building the infrastructure and library; students need experience to obtain jobs and this is a place where the needs of the institution and the student overlap. There have been times where the student announcers for K-State were doing a better job than the paid media types.
After K-State builds the infrastructure and has a minimal content library, it should develop the distribution channels such that it allows individuals and commercial entities to use, i.e. access, the library. Individuals should have the ability to access the library and to watch live content using either a subscription model or one that is ad supported. Commercial entities should have access to the library supported by the sharing of advertisement revenue.
Why use ad revenue to generate income? Because it works. Google, for example, derives much of its revenue off of ad sales. In the same manner, K-State could generate revenue by selling advertisements and giving the content away. When a commercial broadcaster wants to use a K-State production, then the revenue is split between K-State and the commercial provider. After K-State has this up and running, then it can provide the infrastructure (for a modest fee) to other entities such that K-State gains revenue by helping others.
By building the fan experience at each venue, K-State can maintain, or build, the demand for tickets. And the fan experience would also include access to the library while at the game. This would require K-State to build a high density wireless network at Ahearn, Bramlage, the Bill and Tointon; an application similar to Sporting KC's and in the future consider adding charging stations to seats (at least at the premium levels). Are there aspects of the fan experience beyond the electronic frontier that K-State should consider?