ESPN & NFL Network Still Pretending Twitter Doesn't Exist During NFL Draft

from the on-the-clock dept

If you follow technology news long enough and you’ll be imbued with a sense of wonder at how quickly most things technology-related progress. Social media rollouts blaze ahead and become dominant quickly. The specs inside our machines continue to balloon. Brand new tech comes out and is adopted by the younger generations with an ease that seems downright impossible. Companies, because they have to, embrace the speed of new technology as well. Everything is faster, more content-rich. It seems the early adopters these days are big corporations eager to gain an edge through the technology the public already is or soon will be using.

Which brings me to this question: have ya’ll heard of Twitter? Yes, yes, I figured that you have, but I’d like to know whether any of you Tweeps out there happen to know anybody at the National Football League? Because they seem to think that Twitter is a thing that can be controlled when it comes to the NFL draft. It’s been a couple of years since I first laughed at the NFL for forcing ESPN and the NFL Network, two of its broadcasting partners, to agree not to tweet draft picks before they were announced on television. Two years later, a lifetime in technological progress terms, and the NFL is stilll doing this, apparently.

ESPN and NFL Network both have rights to televise the NFL draft, and, as they have in the past, this year they will show the good and just Roger Goodell that they value the product he’s bestowed upon them by not allowing their reporters to tweet picks before the commissioner announces them at the podium. That NFL Network agrees to this makes sense. (It has no choice, since it’s a glorified PR channel for the league.) What’s ESPN’s excuse?

Well, some of us argue that ESPN has nothing to do with news and is instead a self-marketing institution built on the leagues for which it broadcasts. To that end, the “journalists” are actually marketing agents, doing the bidding of the ultimate customer, the leagues, including the NFL. Taken at face value, the agreement for ESPN reporters to refuse to tweet out much-sought information they’ve obtained is an abdication of any journalistic ethics they might pretend to have.

But the larger question is: who does the NFL think they’re fooling? After all, this scheme would work wonders to control information about draft picks…if Twitter users only followed NFL Network and ESPN employees. That isn’t how this works as a sports fan, of course, meaning that anyone who wants to get quicker information on the draft will certainly have it. That renders this whole exercise pretty damned meaningless for the NFL.

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Companies: espn, nfl, twitter

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Comments on “ESPN & NFL Network Still Pretending Twitter Doesn't Exist During NFL Draft”

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Bt Garner (profile) says:

This is an easy one to follow.

ESPN uses the (old school) broadcast model. Their revenue comes (indirectly) from viewers, directly from advertisers and providers who pay them based on the number of viewers.

By ensuring that the broadcast distributes the information first, ESPN believes that they will gain/maintain viewers, thus increasing their viewer numbers and the amount they can charge advertisers.

Like everything else, you really just have to find out where the money is coming from for it all to make cents.

Anonymous Coward says:

In the time between when NFL Network flashed their fancy “PICK IS IN” graphic for the Patriots 1st round pick and Commissioner Asshat announced the pick, my Twitter timeline went from “Patriots trade the pick to Houston” to “Patriots are keeping the pick” to “Sources say Malcolm Brown is the Patriots pick” to “Confirmed: Patriots will select Malcolm Brown.”

I follow about 50 people on twitter. None of them have anything to do with football. I’m sure if I did I would have known who they were selecting half way through the first round.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Past? or Future?

Those who don’t embrace the future, are doomed to live, and die, in the past.

This sort of thing (Twitter, Facebook, social networking, cloud) is not the future I wish to embrace. I think they’re doing it wrong, and they’re living in the past; a regurgitated and reformed past to give the appearance of a future worth having. I think we can do better than this if we refuse to settle for less than what we could, and should, have.

On the other hand, I’m also currently mildly addicted to the novels of Conn Igguldson and M. C. Scott, still attempting to wrap my mind around Imperial Rome, so what do I know?

Anonymous Coward says:


Aren’t the team representitives in the same room the draft is taking place it? Once they’ve decided who to draft how long is it taking for the announcement? The way this piece is reading it’s taking an hour or two, or longer. I would think the announcement would be almost immediate, given the other teams want to know who just became unavailable.

Morgan Wick (user link) says:

Re: Idea?

The NFL’s interest is in making sure people are watching the draft on TV, whether on ESPN or NFLN, where they or their business partners can actually make money off it. That’s not the case on Twitter; it ultimately doesn’t matter what account is dropping the picks if they’re not getting any ad or subscription money off of it.

This article doesn’t mention that this year, the NFL prevailed on its other business partners (NBC, CBS, Fox) not to tip picks either. Didn’t work. The only solution is for the NFL to speed up THE TV BROADCAST so as little time elapses between the pick coming in and it being announced as possible – give people a reason NOT to just follow the draft on Twitter, eliminate the incentive or even ability to tip picks at all. Unfortunately (for them), that probably means cutting back on ads (to minimize their effect on delaying pick announcements), but that’s better than not getting ANYTHING.

What I’d like to see some entity without a financial relationship with the NFL do is throw together some experts and a host in a studio, get some guy to read pick-tipping tweets off a “podium”, and put together your own “pirate” NFL draft broadcast online. At that point, the only reason to watch the official TV broadcasts is to see the reaction of the players or to see them pose with the commissioner, and that’s only relevant if they’re in the green room or the networks have cameras at their house. Maybe that would get the NFL to get their act together on this front.

Roger Badell says:

The whole draft was handled miserably...

I assumed the incompetence with which the draft aired was simply because they were holding it in the middle of a park or something in Chicago, instead of the usual, tried-and-true venue in NYC. It took FOREVER between the time that “pick is in” was displayed and they actually got around to announcing who that pick was. It seemed the athletes who were actually on scene had to ride in on the L or something, which contributed to the delay, but, in terms of today’s “information now” media, it took altogether too long. And what was with Goodell wandering around stage with the names on pieces of cardboard? Isn’t Microsoft and their Surface partners with the NFL? Couldn’t the pics have magically show up on a Surface that Goodell was carrying, instead of some antiquated wood pulp? Heck, they probably could have even included pronunciation cues, so he wouldn’t have bungled “Mariota”…

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