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‘NHL on TNT Face Off’ Values Authenticity From Former Players, Coaches

“What you see is what you’re going to get…. It’s fresh. If you were to rehearse, your first take is your best take and it usually goes downhill from there.”

Derek Futterman

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Prior to last season, the NHL made history when it inked new seven-year media rights deals with both ESPN and TNT, reportedly totaling in excess of $1 billion. Following an exciting season of hockey that culminated in the Colorado Avalanche winning the Stanley Cup championship for the first time since the 2000-01 season, the rest of the league will try to prevent the formation of a bonafide dynasty through the winter months. The broadcast of the Stanley Cup Finals on ESPN, however, will not be repeated until next season, as the media rights deals rotate which network gets to broadcast the coveted best-of-seven series annually.

This year, Turner Sports’ coverage of the National Hockey League will be the exclusive home of the Stanley Cup Finals, marking the first time the network holds such a distinction. Last season, Turner Sports covered portions of first- and second-round matchups and finished its inaugural season by broadcasting an exclusive presentation of the Western Conference Finals between the Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche.

The network experienced a 58% increase in viewership from the previous year’s matchup between the Vegas Golden Knights and Montréal Canadiens broadcast on NBC Sports. Play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert was joined by analysts Eddie Olczyk, Keith Jones, and Darren Pang to bring viewers the live game action which was preceded by NHL on TNT Face Off.

The studio-based show traveled across the border to both Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta and Ball Arena in Denver, providing fans with insightful pregame and postgame coverage. The panel, which includes studio host Liam McHugh and analysts and former NHL players Paul Bissonnette, Anson Carter, Wayne Gretzky and Rick Tocchet, returns intact for its second season together. The group is ready for a chance to showcase their broadcast and promote the game of hockey on the game’s biggest stage at the end of the season.

“I’m very excited to cover the Stanley Cup Finals,” said McHugh, who joined Turner Sports after spending nearly a decade with NBC Sports. “This group is a special one; it’s one that I feel lucky to get to work with. It was a blast doing the Western Conference Finals, especially going to Edmonton with Wayne Gretzky and seeing the reaction there. Now we get to do it for all the marbles: to see who gets to hoist that Cup.”

From the moment the Colorado Avalanche won the Western Conference championship, the team at Turner Sports has been focused on improving its coverage of NHL games for the 2022-23 season, which began earlier this month with an exclusive Wednesday doubleheader. The group has a growth mindset amid an evolving media landscape and aspires to continue being voices that garner the trust and reliability associated with delivering news and giving informed opinions.

“What I love about this group is how we always think about, ‘Hey, how do we get better from last year?,’” expressed Tocchet, a three-time Stanley Cup champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins – one as a player and two as an assistant coach. “We’re not complacent…. There’s just so many storylines that we can tackle.”

Aside from the Stanley Cup Finals, Turner Sports will also broadcast the 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic from Fenway Park in Boston, Mass. in a matchup between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins. Moreover, the network will broadcast several marquee matchups between rival teams – including tonight’s game between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers from UBS Arena in Elmont, N.Y. – games that could have significant factors in determining which teams can make championship runs.

“With the product and trying to deliver it to the fans… constantly improving is definitely at the top of the list,” Bissonnette said, who is the co-host of the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast with Barstool Sports and a color commentator for the Arizona Coyotes. “….Agents might not be happy about the hard cap but… from a parity perspective in the league, I think we’ve got 10 teams with the possibility of winning the Stanley Cup.”

Authenticity is highly regarded and valued among media members; therefore, generating discussions in which the analysts can utilize their knowledge and expertise to accurately convey and translate what may seem like esoteric information to viewers is most optimal for the growth of the game and success of the program. While the show does not center itself around debates, there are occasionally disagreements – none of which are contrived – which affords viewers the opportunity to hear a broad range of perspectives and ultimately choose a side or form their own dissenting opinion on a subject.

“I think the best part of our show is [that] we don’t rehearse,” said Carter, who also works as a television studio analyst on MSG Networks. “What you see is what you’re going to get…. It’s fresh. If you were to rehearse, your first take is your best take and it usually goes downhill from there.”

Amid a media landscape where fans have augmented levels of jurisdiction over which programming they consume, along with when and where they do it, understanding and appealing to a target audience is ostensibly essential in maintaining success. Following in the footsteps of Inside the NBA with Ernie Johnson, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Shaquille O’Neal, the panel has tried to differentiate itself in terms of their parlance and types of segments. For example, the show had Gretzky and Barkley face one another in a shootout during the show’s premiere last year. In the playoffs after Bissonnette lost a bet to his podcast co-host Ryan Whitney, he had his head shaved bald on national television in a segment that went viral on social media.

“Whether it’s a week before or the summer or even [on] a [gameday], one of the guys may be like” ‘Hey, let’s try this,’” Tocchet said. “We’re not afraid to try things and obviously the company we work for wants that; they welcome that. They don’t want to be overprepared, and I think that’s a big part of why this is successful.”

The key in being relatable to fans who may not be familiar with the parlance and nature of every discussion being had on the show will be to adjust the dialogue and simplify certain aspects of it – especially to prevent coming off as being arrogant regarding their roles. At its core, the purpose of studio programming within a live game broadcast is to preview a matchup, analyze it between periods when it is taking place and reflect on how the game was won or lost after the final buzzer. The team at Turner Sports realizes this goal and goes beyond it to make their program unique and a memorable watch for viewers worldwide whether or not they are dedicated hockey fans.

“We make mistakes out there and I think people kind of laugh about the mistakes,” Tocchet said. “….I think that’s something that we’ve tried to learn even from the NBA guys and their Emmy Award-winning show. We kind of watch them and how they do it. I think that’s the future of televising the game of hockey; [that is], trying to get that person who doesn’t know much about hockey.”

“A lot of people working on our show behind the scenes weren’t ‘Hockey people,’” Carter added. “They would ask a ton of questions that [we] would take for granted. [For] your non-traditional hockey fans though, those were legit questions… [some of which] we thought, ‘Yeah, that’s a no-brainer; every hockey fan gets it.’ We had folks in the studio who didn’t follow hockey in the past [and] they gave us a window into the audience we’re trying to tap into.”

Planning for each show extends far beyond the panelists and producers, as there is always the potential to come up with new ideas or talking points that could enhance the broadcast and that night’s game coverage. The best ideas for a given show, according to McHugh, can be sourced from a number of different areas, including those working as video editors and graphics coordinators tasked with creating the visual elements of the show. It is genuinely a group effort to cultivate a compelling and elucidative program at Turner Sports, one that captivates viewers and keeps them coming back for more.

“I think we’re a show that is willing to take some risks,” McHugh expressed. “We’re all-in as a group in the studio where once we decide we’re going to do something, we’re going full steam ahead… but we’re probably going to have a few laughs either way and maybe we’ll have some more if it’s a trainwreck.”

Sometimes, the conversation being had on the show does not directly relate to hockey but may be relevant in the world of sports or on an even larger scale. As a result, the panelists and crew at Turner Sports need to be ready to conform to potential breaking news or a change in the rundown that may alter the remainder of a given broadcast.

“I like what we’re doing because it’s something different every week,” McHugh said. “At the same point, we’re a show where if there’s something serious or something unpleasant, we don’t shy away from it either. It’s a show that’s willing to pivot.”

As the broadcast has cemented itself into the hockey landscape, Turner Sports has gradually gained greater trust from teams and players around the NHL, giving the network more of an ability to reach players and personnel. Whether it is being able to speak with stars, such as Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid or Igor Shesterkin, or members of various front offices and coaching staffs, it usually requires fostering some level of trust and respectability. One year after the launch of the broadcast, teams are ostensibly being more open to working with them to elevate the level of game coverage and maintain hockey’s positive growth trajectory.

“Being around the league so long, teams are so protective and not willing to give the access to players that we’re looking for,” Carter said. “….Now that they see we’re trying to do the right thing for our players, they’re granting us more access [and] I think as we continue to work on our broadcasts, we’ll continue to get more access.”

Highlighting the personalities of athletes engenders an enrichment in pathos between fans and teams, sometimes extending to the league as a whole. The panel, with its wide array of experience and vast hockey knowledge, could likely carry a successful show on its own but adding interviews and features with current players only makes the coverage more comprehensive and germane to each specific matchup. Hockey is surely an adrenaline-inducing sport filled with heart-pounding moments and dynamic action, all of which is seemingly amplified once the playoffs begin. Using these facets of the game to its advantage draws sports fans to the game and allows it to leverage its position in a marketplace infused with incessant amounts of choice and freedom in terms of content.

“You see these other leagues – in particular the NFL and NBA – they’re personality and star-driven,” Bissonnette said. “The more you can amplify that and show that off, the more you can grow the game…. I think hockey is catching up to the other leagues… based on a parity standpoint. You get to the Stanley Cup Playoffs – [and] I don’t think there’s anything else like it.”

Turner Sports continues its second year of a seven-year media rights agreement with the National Hockey League, bringing fans exciting matchups largely taking place on Wednesday nights, along with other select games throughout the regular season. Once the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin, the NHL on TNT will have coverage of the first three rounds leading up to the Stanley Cup Finals, of which it is the exclusive rightsholder for the first time. It is arguably the pinnacle of professional hockey and a source of motivation and fervor for those working on NHL broadcasts this year with Turner Sports.

“It stunk watching the Stanley Cup on another broadcast,” Carter said. “I’m not saying [the ESPN] broadcast was bad; I just wanted to be a part of it…. Just being on the road and being a part of it; that’s the best time of year. The weather’s great; the stakes are high; people are pumped up [and] all stakes are on the game. We’re crowning a champion and we’re going to be a part of it.”

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BSM Writers

Twitter Blue Debacle Showcases Company’s Ongoing Concerns

“If you start giving away blue badges to everyone, then it has no value. It’s the equivalent of a currency. if you start printing more, it gets devalued. Same for verified badges.”

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For years, a blue “verified” check mark on Twitter has long been considered a symbol of status. Anyone — entrepreneurs, journalists, business executives — could potentially end up in the same exclusive space as celebrities like Taylor Swift and Tom Brady. 

Perhaps the one quality that the blue check mark represented that had been overlooked was its authenticity stamp. The badge has been used all across social media platforms to signal an account’s authenticity — a verification that recently has proven to be of significant importance to not only people, but brands as well. 

Shortly after Elon Musk’s $44-billion takeover of Twitter, the billionaire swiftly made his mark which, among many things, included a democratization of the app’s verification system. With a $7.99 monthly subscription to Twitter Blue, which launched last year as the company’s first subscription service, users could now possess what had long evaded them: a blue check mark.

“Theoretically, this would have made it easier for some brands or influencers to get verified than it has been in the past,” Galen Clavio, director of undergraduate studies for the Media School at Indiana University Bloomington, wrote in an email about the possible benefits of Twitter Blue’s verification accessibility. 

“From an algorithmic perspective, that would have made sense to pursue under the Twitter setup that everyone had come to know,” he added. 

While perhaps not a surprise to Musk or Twitter executives, everyday people were paying for the newly revamped Twitter Blue to boast their social media clout. Whether Twitter leadership knew it or not, though, those same subscribers took the opportunity to verify themselves using the alias of actual people. 

Very quickly, Twitter Blue created an abundance of impersonators masquerading as verified celebrities and companies. Misinformation was hard to identify, making it tougher to find information in an era already plagued by discrepancies between fact and fiction.

“If you start giving away blue badges to everyone, then it has no value,” Alessandro Bogliari, CEO of the Influencer Marketing Factory, an influencer marketing agency, wrote in an email. “It’s the equivalent of a currency. if you start printing more, it gets devalued. Same for verified badges.”

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A screenshot of a fake account created to appear as pharmaceutical company Eli Lily shows the dangers of allowing anyone to be verified on Twitter.

Shortly after the Twitter Blue re-launch, a tweet was sent from an account using the same logo and name of Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical company. It read, “We are excited to announce insulin is free now.” The tweet seemed legit — the branding seemed real, as did the company name. It also boasted a blue-check mark, so it had to be true. 

As just one of many misrepresentations that succeeded it, the Eli Lilly tweet was a fake. Even when Twitter finally removed the tweet, more than six hours later, the fraudulent account had more than 1,500 retweets and 10,000 likes. The pharma company’s stock also plummeted $368 a share to $346 a share, reportedly erasing billions in market cap, according to several economic reports. Eli Lilly’s stock price currently sits at roughly $352 as of Nov. 16th.

“I can only imagine the damage a tweet like that made for the company, its employees, stakeholders, shareholders and anyone really related to their offering,” Bogliari said. “Some were able to tweet from their official accounts and restore it a bit. Others, I imagine, used PR and reputation firms to get to a solution fast. But it’s not that easy for all of them… for others it could be potentially a damage so big they won’t be able to survive, not just in terms of market cap/stock value, but also in terms of reputation and customers love.”

The verification mishap affected not only Eli Lilly’s reputability and profitability, but could also spell trouble for Twitter’s revenue stream.

“It’s making it really easy for advertisers to say: ‘You know what, I don’t need to be here anymore,’ and walk away,” Jenna Golden, who previously ran Twitter’s political and advocacy ad sales team, said in an interview with The Washington Post. “People are not just providing inaccurate information but damaging information, with the ability to look legitimate. That is just not a stable place for a brand to invest.”

Sports personalities were also hurt by the preponderance of fake users across Twitter. Basketball star LeBron James trended on the platform after a tweet from someone with the user handle, @KINGJamez, claimed that the 37-year-old was leaving the Los Angeles Lakers to join his former club, the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Adam Schefter, a notable football analyst at ESPN, also trended after someone with the user handle, @AdamSchefterNOT, revealed that Las Vegas Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels lost his job. While the user handle clearly indicates that it didn’t come from the actual Adam Schefter, the fact that it was quote tweeted could have led many people to assume it was really Schefter, since many were unlikely to take the time to click and confirm the tweet — and tweeter’s — validity.

These are just a few specific instances where, while a more open verification system could have helped Twitter users, the idea did not lead to a successful implementation.

“Being verified would have given those brands more credibility and be marked as the official brand — impersonation happens also for smaller brands and not just for Fortune 100 companies,” Bogliari said. “So the idea was theoretically good — I would say only for brands and certain individuals and not just for everyone… documents and proof (are still) required but the execution showed us all the flaws.”

Verification issues aside, Twitter faces an uncertain future under Musk’s leadership. As much as 50% of the company’s 7,500 employees predating Musk’s ownership have been laid off under his tenure. The billionaire also revealed that Twitter’s cost-cutting methods are a result of the company losing upwards of $4 million daily. He’s even announced potential bankruptcy if Twitter doesn’t correct its financial woes. 

“I see the Twitter Blue controversy as one of several items that are likely to just make brands and creators look elsewhere in the social media landscape,” Clavio said. “Twitter offers minimal exposure for creators and brands to the public when compared to other networks, and a much higher risk of doing or saying something that can cause a crisis.”

As more people grow skeptical about Twitter, alternatives have started to emerge. More people are visiting platforms like Discord, Reddit, even Tumblr. Others are joining Mastodon, a free and open-source microblogging site that has drawn comparisons to Twitter for its timeline of short updates arranged chronologically rather than algorithmically. 

As recently as Nov. 12th, Mastodon boasted approximately 6.63 million accounts, a 17% increase from the 5.65 million users it had on October 28th. 

From internal struggles to increased competition, Musk inherited a Twitter that, for better or worse, might be on a continual spiral to irrelevancy. 

“It’s clear that the Twitter platform is pretty fractured right now,” Clavio said. “At the end of it all, I think a lot of brands will just opt out of having a presence on Twitter, paid or otherwise. It’s just not big enough of a platform to justify the potential negative exposure.”

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BSM Writers

Christian Arcand Returns To Where It All Started At WEEI

“Going to WEEI was a no-brainer for me. I started there. That’s my radio home.”

Derek Futterman

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Since the turn of the century alone, Boston has hosted 12 ticker tape parades to celebrate championships. Christian Arcand has had the opportunity to experience that success firsthand, initially as a diehard Boston sports fan and then as a voice of the fan. Now as he begins his second stint at the WEEI — this time as a producer and weekend host — he aims to ensure a seamless transition for both the Merloni, Fauria, & Mego afternoon drive show and his career in sports media.

Returning to a station where his Boston radio career began, Arcand enters the same building where he started his last sports media job with 98.5 The Sports Hub. Once the station moved to Dorchester, Massachusetts, WEEI moved its studios to the location – and it is where its shows are broadcast from today. Arcand’s time at 98.5 The Sports Hub ended in being laid off last month; despite that though, going to work evokes feelings of nostalgia and déjà vu.

“Walking back in there for the first time was pretty wild,” Arcand said, who returned to WEEI earlier this week. “I was laid off from The Sports Hub and it was a big surprise to me and to, I think, everybody that [it] happened.”

After graduating from the University of Colorado, Arcand moved back east to work for WDIS AM 1170 in Norfolk, Massachusetts, which he says isn’t really an option for those entering the business today.

“These little stations are all gone,” Arcand expressed. “Those were pipelines to places like WEEI and WFAN and other places in the area. You’d work in Connecticut or you’d work in Rhode Island or whatever and these places all just disappeared.”

Just over a year later, Arcand made the move to ESPN New Hampshire, initially co-hosting Christian and King with Tom King, a sportswriter for the Nashua Telegraph covering the New England Patriots, Boston Bruins and other college and high school sports. The show was broadcast during the midday time slot from noon to 3 p.m. and sought to entertain the audience while informing them about the day’s action.

After nearly four years on the air, Arcand transitioned to work with Pete Sheppard, a former member of the heralded WEEI program The Big Show hosted by Glenn Ordway, on Arcand and Sheppard. Additionally, Arcand was named as the show’s executive producer, meaning that while the show was going on, he was often focused on many different tasks. Once Christian and King was brought back, he continued working in this dual role before the show ended in January 2017, six months before the format flipped from ESPN-branded sports to oldies.

“It was a lot – cutting up all the audio you want to play, then playing it during the show, then cutting the commercial [and] trying to answer the phone,” Arcand said. “It was this whole thing, but I really loved it; we had a lot of fun up there.”

While Arcand currently works at WEEI, it is his second stint with the station – and this time, he is working in a brand new role. He initially joined the station in 2013 as a sports anchor and co-host of the evening program Planet Mikey featuring Mike Adams. Shortly thereafter, he helped launch WEEI Late Night, airing from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. where he became known in the Boston marketplace going on the air after the conclusion of Boston Red Sox live game broadcasts.

Unlike his time in New Hampshire though, he was solely hosting and not producing – requiring him to adjust to not having as much oversight regarding the inner workings of each program.

“I’m not a control freak, but I remember [thinking], ‘Wow, this is different. I’m not running the board anymore. I’m not playing my own stuff,’” Arcand said. “….That was kind of jarring at first [but] I ended up working with a lot of great producers and I still am today.”

Mike Thomas, who currently serves as the senior vice president and market manager for Audacy Boston, was integral in building 98.5 The Sports Hub from its launch in August 2009. He was responsible for signing Arcand away from WEEI to join the brand as co-host of The Adam Jones Show airing weeknights.

Working alongside show producer Jeremy Conley, he gained an in-depth understanding of what it entails to produce a sports talk radio show in a major market, helping broaden his knowledge of the craft and position him for his current job with WEEI.

“I really had a good opportunity to learn from some of, I think, the best [producers] in the business,” Arcand said. “….It’s cool being a fan of these guys and then getting to work with them and learn from them and all that other stuff…. It’s really a job that requires a lot, and the guys who are really good at it, I think, are just top-notch.”

Over the last several years, 98.5 The Sports Hub has earned massive wins across the Nielsen ratings, recently finishing number one in the summer book across all dayparts in the men 25-54 demographic. Days later though, the station’s parent company Beasley Media Group made budget cuts, resulting in Arcand and Toucher and Rich producer Mike Lockhart’s employment being terminated.

While Lockhart has since been re-hired after Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb lobbied for the decision to be reversed, Arcand was in the job market quickly mulling over his future in the industry. In fact, it was reported that Arcand was on the verge of signing a three-year contract that would have kept him at the station before the termination of his employment.

“I was so shocked that it had happened and it was sort of hard to deal with it,” Arcand expressed. “Then I was angry about it and then I sort of channeled that into, ‘Okay, what am I going to do next here?’ You start thinking, ‘Is this it? Is this the end of the career? Are you going to even continue doing this?,’ and that was a thought I had a couple of times.”

Arcand’s abrupt departure from 98.5 The Sports Hub and Boston sports radio was short-lived though, as there was a substantial market for his services. In the end, he communicated with Thomas and WEEI operations manager Ken Laird, utilizing industry connections and his own versatility to return to the place where he began working professionally in Boston.

“Seeing that WEEI was in the market for someone on-air and to produce [the afternoon] show, I was right there and willing to try out something I hadn’t done in a while,” Arcand said. “It was a no-brainer, really. Going to WEEI was a no-brainer for me. I started there. That’s my radio home.”

As someone once again “new” to the station, Arcand is looking to foster a working chemistry with afternoon hosts Lou Merloni, Christian Fauria and Meghan Ottolini, along with radio producer Ryan Garvin. Arcand enters the role replacing show executive producer Tyler Devitte who left the station to pursue other opportunities and feels that the composition of the show is unique in the sports radio landscape. In short, it gives them an opportunity to further differentiate themselves from other afternoon programs across multiple platforms of dissemination.

“It’s an interesting show because Lou and Christian are both ex-jocks,” Arcand explained. “It’s rare that you sort of see shows where it’s just two guys like that and it was just them for a while but then with [Glenn] Ordway and then they brought in Meghan [Ottolini].”

Arcand had been listening to the afternoon drive program long before the offer to return to WEEI was made to him and now looks to offer his insight and expertise when necessary. He does not want to enter his new role with insolence or by coming off as dogmatic when expressing his opinions about the show.

“I’m sort of taking the approach of observing more than maybe I would in a couple of weeks from now or something,” he said. “I want to sort of make sure I get the rhythm of the show and the clock and everything like that. Those are all things that you have to be more aware of when you’re behind the glass as opposed to on the air.”

Arcand will be hosting a solo radio program on WEEI every Saturday afternoon, reminiscent of Sunday Service, a weekend show he used to host on 98.5 The Sports Hub. He is excited to be able to return to the Boston airwaves and connect with his audience once a week to bring them the latest sports news and entertaining talk – all while bringing his trademarks of sarcasm and congeniality.

“I’m really comfortable just sitting in the room, cracking the mic and talking with the callers or putting out my points and getting to certain things that I want to touch on,” Arcand said. “….I think my style is one that you just sort of tune in and you’re hanging out with me for a couple of hours.”

Ultimately, Christian Arcand has made the move back to what he refers to as his radio home. As he concludes his first week back at WEEI, he is focused on producing the afternoon drive program and complimenting that with his solo show on Saturdays, the first of which will take place tomorrow from noon to 2 p.m. Through all of his endeavors, he will talk about Boston sports with his listeners no matter the season, giving them a platform to engage with the hyperlocal coverage.

“Being back at WEEI is something that I’m really happy about,” Arcand expressed. “I was excited to get started, [and] now that I’m there, I’m excited to see where we can take this show.”

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BSM Writers

What Twitter Alternatives Exist For Sports Media?

Sports Twitter is a major vehicle that has helped establish the platform’s reputation for accurate and authentic up to the minute information.

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The reality of Twitter dying as a platform was looked at as a bit hyperbolic when Elon Musk first took over the social media network. Now though, it is slowly coming closer and closer to potential reality.

Musk has been on a quest to salvage Twitter’s economic stability but has done so in an irrational and unplanned fashion. The actions he has taken include publicly criticizing his employees and firing them after pushback and firing essential engineers who literally keep the platform from crashing. Developers have even warned Twitter users with two factor authentication to either remove the feature or to remain logged in because the function that handles that process no longer works.

Sports Twitter is a major vehicle that has helped establish the platform’s reputation for accurate and authentic up to the minute information. It has helped establish the careers of insiders such as Adrian Wojnarowski, Shams Charania and Adam Schefter. In case Twitter does actually come to an end, what should reporters who rely so much on the platform do?

Establish an email list through Substack

With permission from their employers, I would suggest starting a newsletter list that they would be able to carry with them in case they decided to leave their employer at some point (all three of the mentioned journos recently signed extensions). Posting on Substack through a mobile device is just as easy as posting on Twitter and it gives users an almost similar experience to what they had with using Twitter in the sense that they could have their email notifications turned on and they could interact with other basketball lovers through Substack’s comments section.

Create a live blog that always exists on your employer’s page

A running page of information that was sponsored and existed on ESPN or Stadium’s page would make digestible, quick hit commentary monetizable for the networks that employ Shams, Woj and Schefter. It brings people back to their employer’s page and establishes even more of a bond between consumers and apps/websites – a connection that has been taken away from many due to the existence of social media.

Establish a Mastodon server

With over a million users, Mastodon has become the closest thing to a Twitter alternative that’s available. Even though signing up for an account is a little confusing and the ability to search for unique users and takes isn’t fully established in comparison to Twitter – Mastodon has a similar look and feel to Elon’s platform and it gives employers more control over who is and isn’t interacting with their employees and what they are able to see. It would make it easier on ESPN or Stadium’s part to constantly promote links to their pages for viewers and readers to consume.

It’s the closest thing that is available to establishing your own social media network without the startup costs, hiring of engineers and figuring out tech issues. An advertising mechanism hasn’t been established yet but ESPN or Stadium could be in the forefront (because of the credibility they bring to the table) of establishing the revenue side of things alongside Mastodon.

Stick it out with Elon

NBC Universal’s advertising head recently told AdAge that NBC is sticking it out with Twitter. Twitter’s ad program has faced setback since Elon’s takeover but it is still much more established and streamlined that anything else available out there that is similar to Twitter. She also said that Twitter is the biggest host of NBC content on the internet (besides NBC owned platforms of course).

If a major company like NBC is standing with Twitter and if most major advertisers haven’t left yet, maybe sports reporters should also stay put for now. Twitter is not a startup. Despite the disarray we read about everyday, it’s still an established company that is up and running. We are all using Twitter itself to talk smack about its mismanagement but the reality is we are all still using Twitter. Even those who have gone away from the platform still come back more often than not to check in on what is happening directly on Twitter.

Maybe the grass will eventually be greener on the other side and Elon will have Twitter on more established ground. Maybe Elon files for bankruptcy and sells it to bankers who create an environment of stability for the company.

The reality is there is no other platform as good at real time reaction than Twitter so maybe sticking it out and keeping status quo is the best thing for everyone to do. See you later on Twitter (follow me @JMKTVShow).

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