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SBJ/March 17-23, 2014/Opinion
New names among largest group of SBA nominees
Published March 17, 2014, Page 30
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Early takeaway: The launch of Fox Sports 1 and the broadcast of Super Bowl XLVIII were the drivers behind four nominations for Fox Sports — Media, Television, Digital Media and Executive categories. The success of the Sochi Winter Games clearly fueled NBC Sports Group’s three nominations in the Media, Television and Digital Media categories. Last year, the NHL wasn’t nominated in either the League or Team of the Year categories considering the 113-day lockout that affected the 2012-13 season. We speculated the league would return in both categories, and it did, with the Blackhawks nominated in the team category. Meanwhile, the league also get nods in the Executive and Event of the Year categories. Other highlights: Four of the six sponsors of the year had major investments and activations around the Olympics. … Twitter gets its first nomination. During Twitter’s early days, it sought out teams and athletes to tweet as a means to help raise its profile. During the year in which it went public, the tables turned, and now many of the industry’s largest properties are pursuing new and deeper ways to do business with the company. So Twitter became an active partner in sports, rather than a communication platform. … Only one “new” venue is in the mix for Facility of the Year, with the rest having undergone significant renovations.
Congratulations to all the nominees; we look forward to seeing you at the sports business event of the year in May. It’s a good party. As always, we welcome your feedback on the nominees.
> THE GOLDEN ROAD TO DEVOTION: I recently sat in on a session on networking and corporate culture, and a few ideas stood out to me. One was empowering staff to come up with new ideas. I like what Monumental Sports & Entertainment is doing, launching an internal program, “What’s Your Big Idea. Help MSE Do Business Better.” The concept is simple: asking those on the front lines to pitch ideas, such as How Does MSE Work Smarter? Generate More Revenue? Improve Fan Experience? Increase Network Traffic? Improve Efficiency? MSE staff will submit their “Big” idea via a website through the end of March and a selection committee will review. There is a raffle for $100 gift cards and the best ideas move forward to present “Shark Tank”-style to company CEO Ted Leonsis. I’m going to keep tabs on this and hope MSE’s selection committee will share some of the best ideas.
At the networking session, three MSE executives each had a different opinion on the value of today’s cover letter for job applicants, which was understandable when you looked at their specific line of business. Kurt Kehl, MSE’s senior vice president of communications, reads cover letters very closely and looks to see whether they address the specific job opening the company has and how the applicant’s skill set matches those needs. “I put a lot of stock in cover letters and how applicants present themselves,” he added, not surprisingly. CMO Joe Dupriest said he gives them a “10-second look to see if something catches my eye about why your background is better than others I may be looking at.” For CRO Jim Van Stone, it’s all about you and your network, as he glances cover letters quickly but, “I look at your network and human connections.” Each makes sense. Applicants should provide an amalgam, with a focus on visual presentation/language, their background and any person or common interest that may make an employer want to engage in a conversation.
> ME AND MY UNCLE: One issue I will continue to watch at Twitter is how it continues to work with TV networks and properties to integrate itself graphically into sports broadcasts. At a conference last month in Washington, D.C., Geoff Reiss, Twitter’s new head of sports, sarcastically likened the current integration as nondescript as “a phone number in a telethon.” He said a focus is to get better at helping sports producers deliver better programming from events. “We can help create good TV with highly salient information, especially what the crowd sentiment is during a game,” he said. He gave examples of showing in real time Twitter-verse’s feelings during a game, about a team’s ability to close out a game or come back from a deficit. “During the game, we could capture the confidence of fans if their team is going to win. It doesn’t bear description but can be expressed effectively graphically.” He, of course, believes Twitter can add to the narrative of the sports event and in turn provide compelling TV. “Twitter provides the social soundtrack. How do you elegantly incorporate it into the story?” he said.
There’s a lot to this and got it me wondering whether Twitter is an accurate barometer of what fans are thinking and the future effectiveness of Twitter curating all relevant tweets. Far too often, the “social soundtrack” can be overly negative, especially when it comes to on-air talent. So I wonder just how true a “crowd sentiment” viewers would be getting and just how wide a social net would be cast. Would Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram and others make up the psychograph? Finally, there will be a business model behind this, so the question becomes, Is this something the networks have Twitter pay for as a branded spot, similar to in-game enhancements? Or could it be part of larger deals Twitter completes with networks and properties?
Abraham D. Madkour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.