Twitter is usually the perfect companion while watching live events — sports, award shows, political debates, whatever. However, there are occasions when Twitter can become a nuisance for broadcast partners, and the NFL Draft ranks among the top.
ESPN and the NFL Network produce months of programming and content about the many potential outcomes of the NFL Draft. They speculate and build anticipation in preparation for the grand reveal at Radio City Music Hall. Announcements that everyone’s waited months to hear are finally moments away, yet, millions of people on Twitter can take the words right of Commissioner Goodell’s mouth as he announces each pick because its already public knowledge before he makes his way to the podium. How? #BlameTwittter, NFL fans, and pundits in attendance for playing spoiler.
But this year, ESPN and the NFL Network, rival networks that are both broadcasting tonight’s NFL Draft, have addressed this issue. They’ve both agreed to a plan that protects the tradition of hearing each pick straight from the horse’s mouth. For one night, neither networks’ insiders will concern themselves with being first to report each pick. According to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch,
Both networks have pledged not to show images of players on the phone in the green room at Radio City Music Hall. In addition to that, both networks tell SI.com that they will tell staffers not to report pick-by-pick selections on their Twitter feeds prior to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the picks on the podium. The Twitter edict will extend into the second round of the draft. Teams have 10 minutes to pick in the first round, seven minutes in the second round and five minutes for the rest of the draft.
Fair enough. After all, NFL fans have less of a reason to watch the action live if they’re the last to know, and a TV network’s main objective is to drive ratings. With the NBA Playoffs and the return of Scandal, both ESPN and NFL Network have enough competition to worry about. If they didn’t at least attempt to keep the news from prematurely spreading throughout the Twitterverse, they’d be cannibalizing their own efforts. However, there’s one flaw. ESPN and the NFL Network aren’t the only players in the NFL Draft game and they can’t force other major media outlets to join their Twitter timeout.
CBS Sports NFL Insider, Jason La Confora, said he has zero plans to conform to ESPN and the NFL Networks plans. So, whether you don’t have cable TV, will be on-the-go, or just like being the first to know every damn thing, make sure you follow @JasonLaConfora on twitter.
Here’s what he said about sticking to his script and ignoring ESPN and NFL Networks directives,
We’re not a broadcast partner for the draft. I will be trying to get the information out as quickly and accurately as possible. What event is made more for Twitter than the NFL draft? If the teams have the information; if the guys in the production truck have the information; if the commissioner has the information; why wouldn’t passionate football fans want it as well?
Yep. I get his point. As an NFL insider, his job is to get the scoop and report it first. Since CBS, the company who cuts his check, doesn’t have a dog in the fight, why should he care about about not ruining ratings for the Draft’s broadcast partners?
Last season I watched the Draft live and followed along via twitter. My viewing experience wasn’t ruined because twitter announced each pick before Goodell. I was more offended by the Jets picks, which is why I plan to keep myself occupied doing other things tonight.
The NFL Draft begins tonight at 8PM/ET on ESPN and the NFL Network.
Props: SI.com and ShermanReport.com