Watching sports on television is an inherently social experience. Typically, fans watch televised games together, and when they don’t, they tend to text or chat while watching. More and more, fans hang out on social media platforms during games, treating their team’s Facebook page, for example, as a chat room. Why then, is the encouragement of fan interaction, through social media or other outlets, not a bigger part of sports broadcasts?
There are many ways to incorporate social media into televised sports. For example:
- “Ask the Announcer” Segment. Invite fans & followers to take part in “Ask the Announcer” segments, which typically appear in both locally and nationally-televised sporting events. Take submissions through the network’s social accounts as well as from the accounts of the teams that are playing.
- Show fan & follower comments as they come in. Obviously this can’t be 100% real-time because of the occasional need to censor unnecessary/inappropriate messages, but it would be really cool if fan & follower comments were displayed on-screen throughout the broadcast.
- Display social media links as much as possible. There is typically a ton of space on-screen during a broadcast. Would be a good idea to rotate social media links in unused space. Obviously, the links displayed would be dependent on whether the broadcast was local (e.g. just home team and network) or national (e.g. both teams, maybe the league, and the network).
- Feature player profiles when highlighting them in-game. When highlighting an individual player (e.g. showing stats or key plays), throw in a link to his or her Facebook page or Twitter profile. If he or she doesn’t have one, oh well. But why not reward athletes who choose to brand themselves through social media?
Obviously, there are a lot of differences between a local broadcast and a national broadcast. With local broadcasts, it makes sense for the network to promote their team’s social media accounts and vice versa. More television viewers to team social accounts means more eyeballs when the team cross-promotes the network’s social media accounts.
With national broadcasts, the league gets involved, and there are more complications because of inequality in scheduling (e.g. the Buffalo Bills aren’t getting as many Monday Night Football appearances as the Pittsburgh Steelers). However, there are still exciting opportunities to incorporate social media there. In fact, the potential impact of including social media in a national broadcast is obviously higher than a local broadcast, simply because of sheer viewership numbers.
What’s also fun to think are Smart TV’s. As televisions become inherently more and more advanced technologically, and as the web becomes more and more a part of the TV-viewing experience, imagine how much social media could enhance watching sports. For example, millions of people watched the inauguration on CNN.com and utilized Facebook Connect to update their statuses and see what their friends were saying as they watched. Pretty soon, that experience will take place on your TV instead of on the web, definitely during sports broadcasts.
To conclude, I’ll start with how I began: Watching sports on television is an inherently social experience. It’s only a matter of time before social media becomes a part of the typical sports watching experience. We’re already seeing some of this in 2010. Just wait for 2012.
What do you think? How long before we’re seeing social media integrated into the sports-watching experience? What do you think would be the best integrations of social and televised sports? As always, would love to hear your comments below!
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