Twitter and the SEC Quote of the Day

Ryan Stephens over at Buzz Manager posted an interview with SEC Media Associate Commissioner of Media Relations Charles Bloom after the SEC went ahead and revised the much questioned social media/fan provisions of its media policy. Here’s the loopy and backtracking answer back from Bloom:

“We’re in the first year of our television and digital rights agreements so there’s a feeling that we needed to push this through pretty quickly, and I believe through the haziness of it some of the translation got lost, especially as it dealt with the media/public relations aspect of it, but now with the revised policy we have landed in a place where the intent has been all along.”

The full audio of the interview is also available in Stephens’ post. Check it out.

Twitter: Illegal Procedure? It may be in the SEC.


I caught this first from Caps blogger On Frozen Blog over the weekend, and I honestly thought it was a joke. But now the story is on Mashable, so clearly it’s for real.

The Southeastern Conference (much more commonly known to college football fans everywhere, as the SEC) is going to announce a  new media policy today that will render any game accounts on social networks – including those of fans – illegal.

The reason for the smackdown, as noted by the headline from Sunday’s St. Peteresburg Times article, is control of their multi-billion dollar broadcasting rights. “For SEC, tech-savvy fans might be biggest threats to media exclusivity.”

When media conglomerates are paying billions to air your product, you want to ensure that their investment is well spent. The business is easy on this one: CBS/ESPN pay the SEC to bring their millions of viewing fans so that they have a very specific audience to sell to advertisers.

If the lawyers think that the social media audience is using their networks as a replacement to national broadcast coverage, then the move makes sense. But, anyone who has ever turned on a TV to catch an exciting sports moment they heard about through Twitter or Facebook knows that this is a supplement to the audience that is already watching, not a threat.

Adam Ostrow at Mashable argues that the motivation is more than misunderstanding:

For the moment, these policies seem a lot more grounded in fear than reality. Sure, these days someone could theoretically live stream a game from their camera phone. But a shaky, low resolution video from the upper deck of Yankee Stadium isn’t exactly the same as watching FOX’s telecast on your big screen TV. Social media should be viewed a fantastic compliment to sports that is good for both fans and the TV networks, but at the moment, it seems that’s anything but how it’s being perceived.

The best part about this (coming from a homer of an ACC guy) is that there are other conferences around the NCAA using social media to increase their audiences and are succeeding. The ACC was smart to engage quickly with people Tweeting about its member schools during the March corridor of collegiate sporting events – and they constantly pushed out updates on everything from March Madness to Lacrosse. The two responses between the SEC and ACC could not be any more different.

Twitter (or Facebook, Flickr, anything else) has a definite benefit for broadcast media. Social media is a broadcast traffic driver because it actually is above the “link economy.” You can’t excerpt a live broadcast and post it to your blog – you still have to either be there or in front of your TV to see the events unfold. It’s an opportunity to increase the gross audience and these are not competing forces of media. Whoever’s lawyers are behind that hopefully see that not as a contract violation, but just one of the many positive externalities to increase the value of the investment.

A Cheap Shot at the Pittsburgh Market?

Our tour of the AP and newspaper industry is taking a quick detour to the Sports page, today, because the MLB Trade Deadline is coming fast and furious in the next 30 hours or so (I even admitted in a tweet last night that my Desert Island news source until July 31st is

Friends and any other people out there know that my favorite convenience is when all my worlds collide into one fantastic display. So, special thanks to my friend and resident Blogadilla contributor Brian Roundy for pointing me to this gem buried in a Yahoo! Sports notes section on the fantasy (yes, remember, geek here) recommendation for a pitcher recently acquired by the Seattle Mariners Ian Snell. Make sure to read the highlighted part closely.

A Cheap Shot at Pittsburgh Media?

I got a chuckle out of this inclusion for one reason: Seattle has been the center of a lot of my watching because one of its papers went online only this year. However, the presence of the additional media from overseas in Japan as a distraction? A little stretch, and certainly not “recommendation worthy.”

There’s a common divide in sports between major market teams – LA, NY, Boston being the standard bearers, but also Philly, DC, Miami and Dallas – your mid-markets and minor ones. The idea of “playing under the lights of a big city” as a distraction to some players is a common complaint. This new development is a first to me, at least in terms of two cities that actually have a lot in common as the mid-major markets.

If I’m Pittsburgh, I’ve just been told that we’re a smaller market than a city that lost one of its newspapers. Ouch. Then again, you have a Lombardi and Stanley Cup to keep you company, so, I’m not going to leap to very much more defense than this.

Instant Reaction: Twitter Volleys to Mainstream Media

(cc) Flickr user Koltregaskes

Laptop open here in front of me, I’m absolutely engrossed in about the third hour I’ve watched in a row of this fantastic tennis match at Wimbledon’s Centre Court.

The match literally just ended, and a heartbreaking five-set match (including a 30 game, 16-14 clincher for Roger) has been nothing short of amazing. The thing is: I know I wasn’t alone in watching this historic match.

I started watching pretty early on this morning, around the third set when Roger was pulling together a tie-breaker win. The general chatter among friends and followers had little to do with tennis, or if they did, it was a small acknowledgment of that Twitter would keep them in the know.

I find it fascinating though that the normal, Sunday morning, light chatter on Twitter quickly turned into a “are you watching this?” as the fifth set kept plugging along. It was more a call of the community to get to their television and flick straight over to the epic set. It was a grueling match, completely entertaining – but the word of mouth power of Twitter drove the audience away from 140 characters to live television.

This is what I think is the most misunderstood power of Twitter. It isn’t about keeping a contained conversation – it’s about flagging things that need to be developed further. Whether it was something vain like the call to watch Chuck or something more breaking or revolutionary, the questions within these trending topics wasn’t what was inside the twittersphere, it was why we needed to look beyond it.

Wimbledon was a tiny, ignorable case study for the most part. It wasn’t self-contained to Twitter, I saw similar questions in my Facebook stream. It’s probably another chink in the MSM armor, but, to me, it’s fascinating that global events have a community that exists beyond ISPs, time zones, and borders.

Sports and media go hand in hand, especially major and live tournaments. The US Soccer run from the last weeks had similar legs online, but I don’t know if we’ll get a real test of the system any time soon. I’d argue that the Winter Olympics offer the opportunity, but given they are in North American time zones, the possibility for an overseas spoiler is slim because of the timing of events. Had this been around for Turino in 2006 – or if the medium still exists/operates like it does in the summer of 2012 for London – it presents a fascinating challenge for sports media. (Just like year’s past, I’m assuming that ESPN will broadcast next summer’s World Cup live, so we won’t get to test this theory then).

NBC had the live broadcast this morning – it would have been useless to those who tracked it online if they didn’t. This just may be the biggest change for which media will have to prepare. The twitter sphere demands live coverage (just check #CNNFAIL). Does this mean that it will be necessary to broadcast non-primetime, live coverage of overseas sporting events from now on? It’s the only way media will be able to provide the access and coverage the audience wants – and the word of mouth among fans will have to be the TV guide we need to find the way.

Weekend Treat: Do Not Abandon Blowouts

I ended up following a lot of TV bloggers recently. Partially because of all that Chuck ranting, partially because of my pop culture dorkiness. Yes, there is enough irony of a digital guy who blogs a lot about the struggles of mainstream media to move with technology who is completely obsessed with iconic, traditional TV.

I’m really happy I started keeping up with Alan Sepinwall and his What’s Alan Watching blog earlier this spring. To add to the levels of irony, please note that Sepinwall is also the TV critic for the NJ Star-Ledger. There’s about nine crossovers of interconnected media here, but that’s the purpose of the rant.

One of my favorite things that Alan has been doing this summer has been a TV rewind – with limited new programming worth focusing on, he’s utilizing the power of DVD to “cover” TV shows as if they were still going on and around for the first time. Part of his focus this summer is the exceptional Aaron Sorkin behind-the-scenes, pre-West Wing piece, Sports Night.

The show was great and its worth catching up with Alan’s coverage of it if you get a chance. This is one of my favorite moments, from the season one finale, when Jeremy (an assistant produce who has the dweeb setting up all the time, but in an endearing way), tries to convince his co-workers that all they need is a big rally. I could watch it over and over again.

This clip is property of Imagine Television in association with Touchstone Pictures.

Here’s the full text of the speech:

Jeremy: Listen to me, everybody. Stop your work. A writer once wrote “As if it matters how a man falls down; when the fall is all that’s left, it matters very much.” What did he mean by that? He meant ‘do not abandon blowouts’. Watching proud and accomplished athletes battle in the face of odds that are virtually hopeless is one of the more stirring sights in all of sports. The Phillies have been down 14 to 1 since the third inning. And I think it’s the best game we’ve got. That is all.

Sports, Media, and My Childhood

It was June of 1998, a day long before Twitter, Gmail, blackberries, SMS or any of the other myriad things I write about here. I was barely a high-schooler, and vividly recall reading a USA Today article about the record-breaking month for which a Chicago Cubs outfielder was on pace.

I was younger, obviously, but also still a bright-eyed teenager coming to grips with the resurgence of the game that once taught me about the loyalty and joy of sports before crushing a young kid’s hope within the 15 years before that moment. I cheered as McGwire’s 62nd home run sneak over the left field wall in St. Louis that September on an 11 inch TV I stealthily moved into my bedroom. I could cheer the return of the game on the back of these athletes.

Now I love the game, but like everyone, I’m suspicious of the athletes. I’m critical – I wrote my collegiate thesis on how the sports media, both on and offline, covered the steroid scandal of 2005 in light of what sports fans were looking to read. Do we want to hear more of this? No, not really. What’s changed between 11 years ago and today? Well, for one thing, we stopped caring about the greed of players’ unions as the inescapable vice of professional athletes and started pining for the purity of the game. However, there are a few bigger things in the works here regarding professional athletes, the sports media, access and doubt.

As Dan Shanoff wrote this morning:

Accusing one person specifically of doing something wrong? You better have specific evidence to back it up.

But accuse everyone of doing something? You’re in the clear! Accuse away!

That was the lesson of the [Raul] Ibanez thing last week, especially combined with the Sosa thing this week: Cynicism rules.“

I only linked to the coverage of the Raul Ibanez blogger-media-steroid accusation debate from last week that Shanoff is mentioning without going into too much detail, but suffice to say, Dan is right on. Here’s the difference: in 1998, we didn’t have any reason to suspect – or the means to blog and twitter – a sudden surge of power, we now have a motive and ability to express our discontent. The crime with a blogger calling on Raul Ibanez’s tremendous season was not the accusation, it was that it singled out the player.

The other change? Athletes now have the ability to remove that filter, too. Ibanez felt within his rights to respond directly to his accuser. Blogger or journalist, it didn’t matter – the playing field is now level when it comes to media relations.

Sports Illustrated covered the Athlete-Tweeting phenomenon in May, and the telling quote may have been from the real life version of The_Real_Shaq:

Another attraction: Twitter lets athletes speak on their own terms. “In this world we live in now, everybody becomes media,” says Shaquille O’Neal, who has an enormous Twitter following of 950,000. “If something is going to be said, hey, it’s coming from me.” Journalists may lament athletes passing over the middle men. But honestly, what’s more interesting, a “we gave 110 percent” from the postgame podium, or a tweet like this from Shaq last week: “Dam manny ramirez, come on man Agggggggggh, agggggggh, agggggh.

Baseball has changed since 1998, along with our impressions of slugging athletes, communication and more. The communications revolution just so happened to coincide with the Steroids Era. Who knew that we would get something so fake and so authentic at the exact same moment of history?

First Offender: Spencer Hall

I thought I asked nicely for people not to write this column. Sigh.

What’s shocking that it was Spencer Hall, aka, Orson of Every Day Should Be Saturday. *Who’s team won last night*

5. Give me the gas and I’ll see you in Moscow. Sooo…line up Utah versus Florida for the 15th in New Orleans, and USC versus Texas in Pasadena on the same day, and then have the winners do it here in Miami on the 22nd. When Patton reached the line of control with the Russians, he allegedly said, “Give me a million gallons of gas and I’ll see you in Moscow.” Give me the money to make it happen, and we’ll see you in Playoffland for the war we all really want to see.

Now, maybe I shouldn’t be so surprised that the offender I thought (Shanoff) and the person who ended up making the call are both Florida fans. They want to shut-up the doubters. Fair enough. But stop whining. You have the crystal ball of the mythical national championship.

Hall’s full piece is actually really quite good, especially for being posted at 1 a.m. from Dolphin stadium. Check it out.


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