SBD/April 22, 2013/Media

ESPN, NFL Network Tell Staffers Not To Tweet Draft Picks Prior To Podium Announcements

ESPN and NFLN have pledged not to show players on the phone in the green room
Both ESPN and NFL Network will tell staffers for this week's NFL Draft "not to report pick-by-pick selections on their Twitter feeds" prior to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the picks on the podium, according to Richard Deitsch of SI.com. The nets also have “pledged not to show images of players on the phone in the green room at Radio City Music Hall.” The Twitter edict “will extend into the second round of the draft.” ESPN NFL Senior Coordinating Producer Seth Markman said, "Our fans have told us they would rather hear from the Commissioner and I think it is a better TV show when we speculate and let the Commissioner do it." He added, "It goes against a lot of our instincts as journalists and it's totally different than anything I deal with, but we feel like it is a win for the fans and our viewers." Markman and NFL Network Exec Producer Eric Weinberger “ironed out the agreement via emails and phone calls this month, and through discussions with the NFL broadcasting department.” Deitsch notes on-air talent for both nets will "still speculate on who will be drafted." However, Markman and Weinberger “insist that no on-air talent is ever tipped of the pick prior to the announcement.” Both execs “reiterated they are given the team selections from the league 30 to 60 seconds before the pick happens so they can align graphics and be ready for the show production.” CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora said that he “can't understand why fans are bothered by picks being revealed on Twitter.” He wrote in an e-mail, "Seems to me the entire point of Twitter is real-time, in-this-second news and updates, and yet people get up in arms about seeing a pick revealed on Twitter before the Commissioner announces it on TV. I'll never figure this one out" (SI.com, 4/22).

STAR POWER SHORTAGE: SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL's Liz Mullen reports analysts expect TV ratings for the draft "to take a hit." Last year, 8.1 million people watched to see Colts QB Andrew Luck and Redskins QB Robert Griffin III "taken No. 1 and No. 2 overall in prime time on ESPN and the NFL Network." But football talent experts said that there are "no quarterbacks of the caliber of Luck or Griffin in this year’s draft and that the first overall pick, as well as the composition of the entire first round, is up in the air." Sports television consultant and former CBS Sports President Neal Pilson wrote in an e-mail, “All our data and research tells us major sports names and personalities engage our audience, create interest and ... drive up ratings. Uncertainty over unknowns is not a recipe for strong ratings” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 4/22 issue).
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