Thursday, March 05, 2015

The Future of Sports Media

I am not sure if this is a recommendation, a prediction, a hope, or even a prayer.  But this is what I think would be the most effective evolution of sports media so that we can each get the content what we want, get less distracted by the content we don’t want, and the revenue streams for sports media and sports social media channels are not interrupted.  They may be more profitable by providing a more engaging user experience and attracting more traffic.

So now that I have driven your expectations way up into the clouds, here is what I have mind.  There are two very different kinds of content on sports media. There is the insightful analysis:
  • On-field activity.  Was it a good play call?  Did the players execute it right?  Did it have the expected result?
  • Contracts:  Trades, drafts, contract sizes, extensions, releases.
  • Long term team analysis:  What does a team need to do to get better?  How will a team do this season?  What rules changes should the league consider?
But currently, these often devolve into inane he said/she said arguments. Even if their (host, journalist, call-in fan, comment stream post) opinion has already been stated several times over and they have nothing to add, they just want to hear their own voice, see their own text.  Or they ignorantly think that their opinion is somehow different.   And the worst part is that I keep watching/listening in the hopes that the host of the show/moderator of the comments will get it back on track. But they don’t, in part because some people like the inane arguing part. 

Then there is the gossipy TMZ content:
  • Criminal or general anti-social behavior by athletes.
  • General personal activities like who is dating who.
  • Trash talking by the athletes themselves on social media (e.g. Marshawn Lynch)
  • Empty answers by players and coaches who are forced to talk to the press but have no desire to or were instructed by coaches not to say anything relevant.
So I would like to divide these two up into three types of sports media consumption:
  1. Real sports journalists who know the Xs and Os and can report on the first category.  They would have heavily moderated comment sections or call-in shows to keep off people who are more interested in the second category.  These can be cross channel so they have lots of business opportunities.  TV, newspaper, magazine, web site, YouTube videos, coverage-related Twitter feeds, etc.  When these journalists interview players and coaches, they would be asking real questions with the expectation of getting a valuable answer.  They wouldn’t bother interviewing the Bill Belichek types who will duck pretty much every question with answers like “I gave my 110%.”
  2. The gossipy stuff can be done on different channels.  If a company like ESPN wants to have both, fine.  But have a simple metadata filter so users can choose one, the other, or both.  Fans, players, journalists, etc can argue back and forth to their hearts’ content.  And a company like TMZ can create a sports channel dedicated to sports gossip.
  3. The “mandatory media interaction” that a lot of leagues are requiring these days can be moved to social media.  Players can be required to have a Twitter feed or Facebook page for this – answering questions posted by the media or fans in whatever volume the league requires.  Plus, they can use these channels for their trash talking (which many of them do now anyway). 
  4. If a company is in the middle (Time magazine has the occasional sports article) they can curate something from any channel that has what they want to do. 
What do you think?  Are there sports fans out there who are at their wits edge from all the wasted time on the inane back and forth?  Or are you a fan that loves the gossip but doesn’t really care about the difference between a 3-4 and a 4-3 defense in football?