Articles / Off-sides On Twitter according to Paid Content?

Off-sides On Twitter according to Paid Content?

Posted on: January 5th, 2012 by Kevin Jordan

Twitter is tough for control freaks. Sure, you get to send your own message and skip the middle men usually the media but once it’s out there, you have no say about who picks it up, how they re-frame it to share (if they share it at all) or what it gets lumped in with along the way. Sports leagues are near the top of the control freak pyramid and, for decades, the National Football League has led the pack. But the leagues also thrive on marketing, branding and publicity and today that means more than selling licenses to plop logos on everything. It means social media. That’s why last week we had a spate of stories about how the NFL is trying to controlthe way players, officials and fans use social media like Twitter and why today I’m writing about the league’s new fan hub at NFL.com, where Twitter is just part of the aggregation.NFL.com/fans: We are embracing social media, says NFL.com GM Laura Goldberg, and trying to get more and more aggressive with understanding there’s a huge conversation. The new Fans hub being launched this week aggregates all things fan from across the site: discussions, live chats, Facebook, fan player ratings, highlights picked by fans, top-viewed NFL.com video, and more. Fans already have a voice on NFL.com, especially as a key component of its Game Center. When I checked in during a pre-season game Thursday night, more than 500 comments had piled up in the Rams-Chiefs thread alone. Scanning the top discussions list today, Thursday’s season-opening Tennessee Titans-Pittsburgh Steelers match already has nearly 2,800 comments. At first, I expected http://www.nfl.com/fans to be a stream of twitters from fans. Actually, it’s everything but fans or players. It’s Twitter for fans league, teams and media available as separate aggregated streams or as one river.viagra Most of these people are sort of professional tweeters, explains Goldberg. Translation, they are league, club or media folks who understand they have an audience and that some things won’t be accepted. Players will be added; the league is still trying to sort out which player accounts are legit. When that happens, Goldberg admits, we’ll probably have to add some moderation. Aggregating fan tweets, well, that may come down the road.

Goldberg says they’re looking at the various Open ID options MySpace, Facebook, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) versus using only NFL.com’s own registration. It’s a tough choice. One of the things we’ve focused on is having a single sign on comment, get subscriptions, etc. Fans can take part in a lot across the site, including voting games up or down, without registering, but the only way to unlock it all is to sign up. Adding in Open ID would change some that control. To register, NFL.com requires e-mail address, full name, birth date. It also requires, as is the case with registering for most sites, accepting a terms of service. This one includes how to link, another sign of that fine line between opening the doors wide and controlling as much as possible. (You may link to the home page of the Service without obtaining our permission provided that you do so only through a plain-text link. For any other type of link to the Service, you must obtain our permission. …) Goldberg and the league want to be and want to engage fans where they are, as well as on NFL.com. But, she adds, we’re not going to devalue our assets. Tweeting fans: Speaking of fans who tweet, blog or use anything with status updates, how does the NFL’s embrace of Twitter jibe with trying to control use during games? Just fine, says the NFL’s Brian McCarthy, in response to reports that the league wants to keep fans from tweeting at all during games or from doing anything descriptive. What we’re talking about is play by play. We’ve already had a couple of dozen games and this hasn’t been an issue. It won’t be. He sees Twitter as the digital equivalent of a sports bar, where patrons comment about plays but would look askance at someone doing yard-by-yard play-by-play. He estimates the equivalent on Twitter would be about 55 tweets an hour, not something most users want. (McCarthy is one of the league’s official tweeters. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is a different kind of case study: he tweeted during the NFL draft, now his Twitter account has cobwebs on it. But beat reporters were urged to tweet his pre-season session with them and today he’ll have a live chat on NFL.com.)

Third DIY season: This is the third season since the National Football League ditched CBS Sportsline as its third-party web operator and went the DIY route. The biggest difference to Goldberg: Controlling your own platform. When she wanted a feature or a change before, she had to ask, wait and hope. Now I have 50 developers upstairs. It creates a better user experience. Also, we’re better to address the needs of our sponsors, to build products with their needs in mind. NFL Media is in the middle of migrating all the teams to a new platform built by NFL.com; Goldberg expects to have 11 on by kickoff Thursday and about half this season. The biggest visible change for users: The CBS (NYSE: CBS) version didn’t have any online video; the NFL-run NFL.com is loaded with video, more than 40,000 pieces so far averaging about two minutes in length and exclusive online to NFL.com. (Sprint (NYSE: S) has the mobile exclusive.) The videos are running in a new player, where Goldberg and company promise to make every moment of the season available. This season, NFL.com also has a revamped Game Center with a 3-D Drive Chart (If you like the moving yellow line on TV, this is for you). The chart offers side and top views of all the plays. Video plays a major role here, too, with analysts, footage from previous games and relevant interviews.

Keep it moving and stop taking yourself so seriously!

Gary R. Lewis

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