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Why is 'Challenge of Champions' on ESPN After 21 Years?
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Question Why is 'Challenge of Champions' on ESPN After 21 Years? - 07-07-2013, 04:20 PM

'Challenge of Champions' is a good example of a show that could be on every week with different "themes' done by private promoters like Matt Braun of Billiards International (the co. that originally produced 'Challenge of Champions'). He's was just one of many in the 90's that produced these type of shows, each with a different style and presentation.

The lack of TV coverage in pool is only because the individuals are no longer producing events. In the 90's we had Matt Braun doing this same show, and with, WPBA(Ladies'Board of Directors), Allen Hopkins, BCA(BCA Board), PBTA(Don Mackey), Barry B. (US Open) and the PCA(Earl, George and me), and Bob Meucci (Meucci Cues and sponsor of Rempe, David H. Earl, Buddy, etc) doing them as well (I even produced 12 shows with 6 of them being televised with 3 re broadcasts).

We all produced events of your own, but when you put them together it was hundreds of hours of ESPN Exposure. Pool being on ESPN has nothing to do with ESPN, it's all about the producers, and this is true in all major sports, although ESPN does produce a limited amount for extra revenue.

Most of this shifted to streaming video because it's difficult to make money directly from the ESPN, it's made from using the ESPN Coverage to expand the market a few hundred thousand (people) so more cues, tables, merchandise, pool room income, etc could be made.

NASCAR's merchandising (shirts, hats, cups, cozies, etc) brings in over a BILLION dollars a year......and without TV this would not be possible, and this can be said of every major sport/game.

The "ball" was dropped in the world of pool for some reason....the good news is it was "dropped," not lost and 'Challenge of Champions' proves this is true. Great job Matt Braun, my hat's off to your "brain child" 'The Challenge of Champions'.....I believe Allen Hopkins gets a "shout out" too.

For more on Matt Braun CLICK THIS LINK


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07-07-2013, 04:53 PM

That was great to watch...the "Challenge of champions" that is

Individuals, or companies, putting these events on TV is a great thing, like this, "Mosconi cup", or the "World Pool Masters", hell, watching the "Guinnes 9ball tour" a few years back was great fun...but..

..too many different companies, governing bodies...

That is what seperates pool from, lets say, snooker (one governing body, a great world tour, highly recognisable and marketed world champions), and that is what's stopping pool from becoming truly professional..

The only way, or just a good start i suppose, is to televise the world championship (any discipline, or all), and make a world tour...with one solid governing body behind it...

I know that happened already, wpc was on TV, in USA and GB, but i don't know what exactly happened after that that made pool dissapear like this...

My "vision" (in lack of better word) is this: make it truly proffesional, then build from that (like the English's did with football and snooker)
  
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behind the scenes of 'The Challenge of Champions'.
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Arrow behind the scenes of 'The Challenge of Champions'. - 07-07-2013, 06:32 PM

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Originally Posted by okrad1337 View Post
That was great to watch...the "Challenge of champions" that is

Individuals, or companies, putting these events on TV is a great thing, like this, "Mosconi cup", or the "World Pool Masters", hell, watching the "Guinnes 9ball tour" a few years back was great fun...but..

..too many different companies, governing bodies...

That is what separates pool from, lets say, snooker (one governing body, a great world tour, highly recognizable and marketed world champions), and that is what's stopping pool from becoming truly professional..

The only way, or just a good start i suppose, is to televise the world championship (any discipline, or all), and make a world tour...with one solid governing body behind it...

I know that happened already, wpc was on TV, in USA and GB, but i don't know what exactly happened after that that made pool disappear like this...

My "vision" (in lack of better word) is this: make it truly professional, then build from that (like the English's did with football and snooker)
That seems like a reasonable "vision".

The important thing is exposure, that's the key to building marketing momentum. Pool's lost it's momentum, so it just "churns" away feeing mostly on it's self. What I mean by this is the majority of the prize money comes from the players....not the game. This is not the game's fault, it's just been underexposed in the last 13 years.

14 years is a good cycle, now maybe we can get some different people interested in broadcasting the game on TV for the good of the industry. I would think the trade organization would be willing to put together at least one telivised tournament, then we would at least gain some momentum.

When you get a chance click on the link about Matt Braun in my first post - he's one of the truly unique characters in the "world of pool" and many don't even know he's behind the scenes of 'The Challenge of Champions'.




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07-07-2013, 06:53 PM

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Originally Posted by CJ Wiley View Post
... The lack of TV coverage in pool is only because the individuals are no longer producing events. In the 90's we had Matt Braun doing this same show ...
Doesn't Billiards International (Matt Braun) still produce the International Challenge of Champions (men), the International Tournament of Champions (women), and the World Cup of Trick Shots?
  
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07-07-2013, 11:00 PM

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Originally Posted by CJ Wiley View Post
That seems like a reasonable "vision".

The important thing is exposure, that's the key to building marketing momentum. Pool's lost it's momentum, so it just "churns" away feeing mostly on it's self. What I mean by this is the majority of the prize money comes from the players....not the game. This is not the game's fault, it's just been underexposed in the last 13 years.

14 years is a good cycle, now maybe we can get some different people interested in broadcasting the game on TV for the good of the industry. I would think the trade organization would be willing to put together at least one telivised tournament, then we would at least gain some momentum.

When you get a chance click on the link about Matt Braun in my first post - he's one of the truly unique characters in the "world of pool" and many don't even know he's behind the scenes of 'The Challenge of Champions'.


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12-15 Pool Shows on ESPN throughout the year
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Thumbs up 12-15 Pool Shows on ESPN throughout the year - 07-07-2013, 11:20 PM

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Doesn't Billiards International (Matt Braun) still produce the International Challenge of Champions (men), the International Tournament of Champions (women), and the World Cup of Trick Shots?
Matt Braun is the "last man standing".....it's like one of his western novels, maybe like the shootout at the OK Corral....and I have to say he did it, and everyone else to gunned down.

The point I've always made is there's real people behind ESPN broadcasts, no matter what the sport/game it's the people, not the game that get it on TV.

I hear over and over how "ESPN doesn't want pool on TV" and it's baloney, it could be on every week if there were more men like Matt Braun in charge. I've been in many meetings with Matt Braun covering a variety of issues back in the mid 90s....hind sight is 20/20.

No matter what happens I'm glad Matt kept the game on TV, it's just amazing that no one else followed suit. Back then there were 4 or 5 entities doing shows like Matt was (by different names), and that's how we had so much TV Exposure.

If that had continued there would be 12-15 Pool Shows on ESPN throughout the year. That would have made a HUGE difference in the last 13 years. I'm curios what the latest ratings are for the ESPN shows, this would be important information to evaluate.


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07-08-2013, 02:50 AM

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Originally Posted by CJ Wiley View Post
That seems like a reasonable "vision".

The important thing is exposure, that's the key to building marketing momentum. Pool's lost it's momentum, so it just "churns" away feeing mostly on it's self. What I mean by this is the majority of the prize money comes from the players....not the game. This is not the game's fault, it's just been underexposed in the last 13 years.

14 years is a good cycle, now maybe we can get some different people interested in broadcasting the game on TV for the good of the industry. I would think the trade organization would be willing to put together at least one telivised tournament, then we would at least gain some momentum.

When you get a chance click on the link about Matt Braun in my first post - he's one of the truly unique characters in the "world of pool" and many don't even know he's behind the scenes of 'The Challenge of Champions'.


Actually, it was known for quite a while -- many of the pool periodicals have written articles serenading the work(s) of Matt Braun over the years.

Here's an example -- Pool and Billiards magazine published a nice "get to know Matt Braun" in January 2007:

http://poolmag.com/Celebrity%20Shots%20Matt%20Braun.pdf

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07-08-2013, 03:00 AM

Very interesting thread, C.J. I did not know this about Matt Braun. Thanks for sharing that information.

I met Matt Braun at the Skins Billiard Championships in 2004 and 2005. Allen Hopkins invited Keith, not Matt, but both of them were the promoters.

I didn't get a warm and fuzzy feeling being around Matt Braun, as I do with Allen, but I don't know him. He seemed aloof and distant the few times I met him.

How did he ever go from author to pool promoter? What a transition!

Well, you know I gotta insert my Matt Braun photo. Taken at 2005 Skins Billiards Championship at the Resorts in Atlantic City.
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TV takes repetition to make an impact and this means weekly productions
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Arrow TV takes repetition to make an impact and this means weekly productions - 07-08-2013, 01:06 PM

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Very interesting thread, C.J. I did not know this about Matt Braun. Thanks for sharing that information.

I met Matt Braun at the Skins Billiard Championships in 2004 and 2005. Allen Hopkins invited Keith, not Matt, but both of them were the promoters.

I didn't get a warm and fuzzy feeling being around Matt Braun, as I do with Allen, but I don't know him. He seemed aloof and distant the few times I met him.

How did he ever go from author to pool promoter? What a transition!

Well, you know I gotta insert my Matt Braun photo. Taken at 2005 Skins Billiards Championship at the Resorts in Atlantic City.
Yes, he's always been a bit "distant" and I made the mistake of not getting to know him better. Sometimes the most challenging people to get to know are the most worthwhile in many ways. It took me a long time in life to receive this "memo".

By the way, he's always been an author, not a pool promoter. My example is to show that it doesn't take a full time job to get pool shows on ESPN. Matt's profession is and has always been writing, and when you read his background you may not even find mention of 'The Challenge of Champions' or any of his pool related projects.

All we need is four more like Matt Braun and pool would be on ESPN (or another major network) every week throughout the year. The Telivised Events have WAY more impact than all the tournaments in Tunica combined.....only a few thousand people even knew the Tunica tournament happened, but the 'Challenge of Champions' will be seen by millions of people nationwide and some may find the game appealing.

TV takes repetition to make an impact and this means weekly productions. Radio is good for short time promotions, but nothing beats TV for long term branding, but it MUST be consistent or it fizzles out with no synergistic effect. 'The Game is the Teacher'


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The only thing that could possibly make Matt a better Western Writer is if .......
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Talking The only thing that could possibly make Matt a better Western Writer is if ....... - 07-09-2013, 01:58 AM

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Originally Posted by sfleinen View Post
Actually, it was known for quite a while -- many of the pool periodicals have written articles serenading the work(s) of Matt Braun over the years.

Here's an example -- Pool and Billiards magazine published a nice "get to know Matt Braun" in January 2007:

http://poolmag.com/Celebrity%20Shots%20Matt%20Braun.pdf

-Sean
I have a feeling over 90% of the pool playing population didn't know Matt Braun was the "mastermind" behind 'Challenge of the Champion$' (the longest running ESPN Pool Show in the history of the sport).

The only thing that could possibly make Matt a better Western Writer is if he was from Texas. or had written 'The Outlaw Josey Wales'


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07-10-2013, 11:18 AM

I have read a lot of Matts novals , all were very interesting and well written . One of my favorite authers . Jim


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I never real eyesed how popular Matt Braun was
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Cool I never real eyesed how popular Matt Braun was - 07-10-2013, 10:04 PM

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I have read a lot of Matts novals , all were very interesting and well written . One of my favorite authers . Jim
I never realized how popular Matt Braun was until I started seeing his books in all the major truck stops. Which book have you read that you would recommend?


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best matt braun western
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best matt braun western - 07-11-2013, 12:52 AM

i found the book by matt braun called doc holliday. the gun fighter was the best i have read.
  
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07-11-2013, 08:28 AM

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I'm curios what the latest ratings are for the ESPN shows, this would be important information to evaluate.
Nielsen ratings for pool are consistently in the .15 to .25 range. As for ESPN not wanting to put pool on TV, that is 100% true. Over the past 5 years, ESPN has pushed billiards programming from the flagship to ESPN2 and now to ESPN3. In addition, a couple years ago ESPN completely wiped billiards from ESPN Classic as a result of poor ratings (according to my old rep at ESPN).

It's all a ratings game. If pool pulled ratings, there'd be more on TV. Unfortunately, every year the ratings continue to dip. The highest I saw in the 8 years we've been advertising on billiards related programming was a women's match during the old BCA Championship when Jasmin Ouschan won her first major US event. That program pulled a .64 if memory serves.


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no one wants to see two people playing any game (pool or otherwise)
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Arrow no one wants to see two people playing any game (pool or otherwise) - 07-11-2013, 10:37 PM

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Nielsen ratings for pool are consistently in the .15 to .25 range. As for ESPN not wanting to put pool on TV, that is 100% true. Over the past 5 years, ESPN has pushed billiards programming from the flagship to ESPN2 and now to ESPN3. In addition, a couple years ago ESPN completely wiped billiards from ESPN Classic as a result of poor ratings (according to my old rep at ESPN).

It's all a ratings game. If pool pulled ratings, there'd be more on TV. Unfortunately, every year the ratings continue to dip. The highest I saw in the 8 years we've been advertising on billiards related programming was a women's match during the old BCA Championship when Jasmin Ouschan won her first major US event. That program pulled a .64 if memory serves.
That doesn't surprise me, the quality of production has actually gone downhill since the 90s, for the most part Jeanette Lee is the only "pool character" that has been developed in the last 15 years. Entire Sports Industries "ride the wave" of their characters and personalities they brand. In pool there's too much confusion, it seems, to get everyone to back a particular player or group of players for the good of the industry. There's legitimate reasons for this I'm guessing.

There's still a lot of great players, but no one wants to see two people playing any game (pool or otherwise)....it's more about defining personalities and developing entertainment outside of just "filming the pool match"....it has to be much more than this to capture the attention span of today's television market.

We were getting solid 1 POINT Ratings (one million households) as a average throughout that time period. All sports have had some issues with ratings through the years and had to make some adjustments to get them back.

NBA and PGA especially had some serious "ratings bumps" in their TV journey. Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods were instrumental in getting momentum back, and of course those organizations got behind their personalities and their "larger than life" performances. This was done with Minnesota Fats, who successfully road the wave of the movie 'The Hustler', it's just too bad this wasn't duplicated though the years. This takes marketing genius, usually in one particular visionary.

The "Pool World" seemed to miss the boat in the turn of the century and never figured out a production "magic bullet". I believe one exists, however, it may take and "act of God" for it to overcome this negative spiral in the professional game of pool.


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Last edited by CJ Wiley; 07-11-2013 at 10:48 PM.
  
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