Will NexGen Ever Work With USA Ultimate Again?

The logo for NexGen, the college all-star ultimate team.One of the unfortunate side effects of the ongoing NexGen v. USA Ultimate saga is the reality that NexGen is unlikely to return to cover marquee USA Ultimate events in the future.

Not only did Will Deaver, USAU’s Managing Director of Competition, have harsh words about NexGen when discussing the NexGen League plan, but NexGen founder Kevin Minderhout has now said explicitly that he has not even put in a bid for the 2013 Triple Crown Tour streaming coverage.

“I didn’t put in a bid,” said Minderhout. “And primarily because I’m not necessarily interested in necessarily doing — I’m interested in building NGN.”

In an interview in January, USAU CEO Tom Crawford denied any tension between NexGen and the Boulder organization. “We really like NexGen,” he said. “We are really excited about the work that they’ve done, how they’ve elevated the quality of the streaming. We had very specific plans to include NexGen in everything that we were doing in 2013, and none of that has changed.”

But Minderhout does not see a sustainable business model in being paid for coverage by USA Ultimate that ends up being streamed for free on YouTube. He is much more interested in covering tournaments and games where he can sell individual subscriptions.

“I think a good revenue stream moving forward that’s going to allow us to film more games is to have it monetized with the pay-per-view,” he explained.

Although initially many hoped for a partnership between NexGen and USAU on the 2013 club season, Minderhout hasn’t even spoken with Deaver since December. Minderhout’s emails to board members were returned, explaining that all discussion would have to go through Deaver.

What appears to be happening instead is that both USAU and NexGen have their eyes on the big prize: a major national broadcast deal. USAU has continued to express that their number one goal for the next five years is to increase the visibility of the sport — a major sports network arrangement is a big part of that.

Minderhout says he is working on something as well. “One of the goals for NGN this year is to put together a package that we can take to a network,” he explained. “Sponsorship and national broadcast are not the exclusive realm of USA Ultimate. They’re not the only people capable of making those things happen.”

2013 is shaping up to be a fascinating year.

UPDATE: Kevin Minderhout added thoughts in the comments:

[quote]Before this turns into something it isn’t, I’d like to clarify that NexGen does not have ill feelings toward USAU. USAU is a great organization and I’m very interested in seeing the TCT in action as well as the AUDL and MLU this coming season.

There’s a lot we don’t know about the future of ultimate and the breadth of ideas that will be tested this year is extraordinary when you think back to where we were just two or three years ago. The ripe environment for experimentation is why I’m excited that NexGen might have an opportunity to add some of our own ideas to the pot.

I made a mistake in how I conducted my conversation with Charlie and for this I apologize. It was not an appropriate conversation to have with a member of the press.

It was also a mistake not to submit a bid for TCT events and I will be contacting USAU to see if a conversation on whether our views of streaming are compatible makes sense for both organizations.[/quote]

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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