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Volume 24 No. 157
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SMT Conference: Focus Group Discusses Experiences, Opinions On Sports Programming

During a unique panel at the '13 Covington & Burling Sports Media & Technology conference, a small group of media execs were joined by a group of sports fans for a focus-group setting during which the fans outlined how they consume sports content. The fans described their experiences and shared opinions on a variety of content, including ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” and FS1’s “Fox Sports Live” show. The four fans, between the ages of 21-37, provided insights on content, viewing options, and which devices they use.

ART WORK: ESPN Senior VP & Exec Producer Jed Drake responded to questions about how analysts are chosen and evaluated, saying, “There is no real science to this. It’s more art. The one thing with analysts is that they come from a world where performance is defined absolutely and positively by statistics and they go into a profession where there are no real statistics. … There is a fair bit of research and focus group work, but in the end, you have to go with your gut. What I generally tend to think is that the people entrusted with these decisions have made more right decisions than wrong ones over a period of time. That’s how we ended up with (“MNF” analyst) Jon Gruden. … And when you have the sort of natural magnetism that he has, I think that draws people in.”

MAKING THE RIGHT HIRE: Fox Sports Senior VP/Programming & Research Mike Mulvihill, discussing the new talent hires for FS1 and FS2, said, “I think every property is different. You’re looking for something different in college basketball versus UFC versus baseball versus a studio show. The studio shows we have are pretty varied, and a person that makes sense for ‘Fox Football Daily’ might not make sense for ‘Crowd Goes Wild.’ In all cases, we’re looking for people who are dynamic, who are storytellers and can be informative and concise. They’ve got to be people that you want to hang out with. I think we can lose sight of the fact that people are inviting us into their homes. We’ve got to make sure we’re putting people into their living rooms that they would want to have in their own house.”

The fans also gave their opinions on the proliferation of advanced stats being used in sports broadcasts, to which WWE Exec VP/Global Digital Media Perkins Miller jokingly said of the company’s “Monday Night Raw” program, “I can promise you a stat-free zone on Monday nights.”