To tweet or not to Tweet?
It’s the 2013 twist on the age-old line. Just substitute Adam Schefter for William Shakespeare. By the way, how well do you think old Will would have done with only 140 characters?
The Twitter issue will be front and center during the NFL draft, which begins Thursday in New York. Football’s great talent search has become a huge TV event. Last year, a combined 8.1 million viewers tuned into coverage on ESPN and NFL Network.
However, many of those viewers were upset by NFL reporters tweeting out picks and draft news during the first night. They were the spoilers, much like telling people in a movie theater how the film is going to end as they walked in.
A reporter like ESPN’s Schefter was in essence scooping his network. While Chris Berman & Co. speculated on air about whom the Bears, or any other team, will select, Schefter’s followers already knew the answer. There goes the suspense.
John Mitchell of Breakingtackles.com wrote:
” What is the cost of being the first to report the draft picks? 1.5 million followers being robbed of the draft experience. You want Roger Goodell to be the first to announce the draft pick. Not an ESPN reporter who happens to find out the information before anyone else.”
As a result, the NFL has asked ESPN and NFL Network to be more selective about their tweets this year. In a post on the draft by Richard Deitsch of SI.com, ESPN draft producer Seth Markman discussed the Twitter edict.
“Our fans have told us they would rather hear from the Commissioner and I think it is a better TV show when we speculate and let the Commissioner do it,” Markman said. “I have said in the past that [ESPN reporters] Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen can basically announce all the picks before they are made if they really wanted to. It goes against a lot of our instincts as journalists and it’s totally different than anything I deal with, but we feel like it is a win for the fans and our viewers.”
Yet the edict hardly means there won’t be Twitter issues this year. Schefter maintains he won’t tweet run-of-the-mill draft picks in advance. However, he intends to be active on Twitter in reporting draft day trades and a team’s target player in the deal.
Last year, Schefter said there were trades involved 8 of the top 10 picks. If the same scenario happens this year, he will be tweeting away to his 2.24 million followers.
“There were big trades involving picks,” Schefter said. “Am I supposed to ignore that? Not say anything? This the world we live in. To a lot of people, it’s a Twitter world. I’m sorry about that, but I’m reporting what I’m getting. These are big trades to me. Am I wrong or right?”
Then there’s Jason La Canfora. The Twitter restrictions don’t apply to him anymore. He left NFL Network after last year’s draft to become the NFL insider for CBS.
La Canfora plans to tweet early and often to his nearly 300,000 followers, along with providing updates for CBSSports.com. If he knows the upcoming pick before it is officially announced, he is going to tweet it. It’s open season for him.
“I will be trying to get out information as quickly and accurately as possible,” La Canfora said. “I’m going to try to do what I think best serves the people who follow me. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s draft experience, but I also have a job to do.”
What about the people who don’t want to know? Both Schefter and La Canfora have a simple solution: Either unfollow them during the draft or simply stay away from Twitter.
“What do you want?” Schefter said. “Do you want information or do you not want information?”
Indeed, Twitter is a wonderful resource during the draft. There’s a real-time tick-tock of activity that has an even quicker pulse than what you see on TV. You get the instant updates of possible deals and picks.
Ultimately, the flood of great information on Twitter is worth sacrificing some suspense from watching the telecast.
“What event is made more for Twitter than the draft?” La Canfora said. “If the teams have the information; if the guys in the production truck have the information; why wouldn’t passionate football fans want it as well?”