Networks Look To Integrate More Social Media During NFL Broadcasts
As more NFL fans every season "engage in social media while watching the game, networks are looking for new ways to program content for that growing second-screen audience," according to Andrea Morabito of BROADCASTING & CABLE. NBC sideline reporter Michele Tafoya "started filing reports exclusive" to NBC's "SNF" Twitter feed last season. Tafoya this year "is adding video reports, hard-wiring her mic to an iPhone to upload 20-to-30-second video clips directly to the @SNFonNBC feed." Producers plan to have her "do five to 10 reports per game, expanding her insight beyond 140 characters." Fox this year "will have eight full-time employees dedicated to social media during its Sunday game broadcasts." The larger staff "has led to a partnership with GetGlue and tighter integration of Twitter into Fox's studio shows." ESPN this season will "look to experiment with real-time polling on 'Sunday NFL Countdown,' powered by Facebook or other companies" (BROADCASTING & CABLE, 9/3 issue). Tafoya's sideline reports will be posted on Twitter and NBC's "Sunday Night Football Extra" platform. "SNF" Exec Producer Fred Gaudelli said, "We think that's going to make an impact with people who like that second screen experience" (SI.com, 9/5).
CHANGES TO BROADCASTS: NBC is adding former NFLer Hines Ward to its "Football Night in America" crew this season, and NBC Sports Exec Producer Sam Flood said, "We'll be moving a few things around for our show, and some of that we'll feel out over the first couple of weeks. But overall we think we have a winning combination." Meanwhile, SI.com's Richard Deitsch noted for the first time in 19 years, Fox will "update its stage setup" on "Fox NFL Sunday." It also plans to introduce during games a "new graphics tracking system that tracks players on the field and follows them in real-time, where you can identify them on wide camera shots." Two banks of "eight unmanned cameras are set up high in-stadium at adjacent 35-yard lines; the cameras track all moving objects and technicians identify and tag players by number." Fox Sports President Eric Shanks: "It's kind of like the pointers for our NASCAR cars. I think it will be one of [the] most helpful innovations that we have come up with since the first-down line" (SI.com, 9/5).
LACKING SUBSTANCE: SPORTS ON EARTH's Will Leitch examined the slate of NFL pregame shows and wrote they are a "smattering of people talking about nothing." ESPN’s "Sunday NFL Countdown" is the "best one, but only because it’s longer and, therefore, some actual football can’t help but sneak in accidentally." It is a "little shocking, when you sit down to watch the pregame shows outside the context of 'Hey, sweet, football’s starting in an hour,' just how empty and vapid they really are." They are the "CliffsNotes of the CliffsNotes of an analysis program." Leitch: "No one expects NFL pregame shows to feature some Socratic debate about the moral equivalency of violence, or even to name an actual football play, but even by the low standards of the genre, they’re shockingly vacuous. ... They are the worst part of sports, the piffle and flat empty air that we’re all constantly trying to wade through to get to the actual sports" (SPORTSONEARTH.com, 9/4).