The NFL Media Group's mantra this season was "Exist In The Trenches". For us, it meant being at the foundational backbone of social integration into our live linear TV programs, but it also meant getting our hands entrenched in the content--literally and figuratively. We imagined and developed touchscreen applications that allowed our talent to power the content and storytelling with their fingertips. These touchscreen apps were developed to replicate how a user would navigate social feeds, like Twitter and Instagram on personal devices. We wanted to go beyond surfacing trends and viral content, because we believe to truly integrate, we need to infuse the content into the fibers of our show. Our goal was not only to look and sound the part, but it was imperative to feel social as we navigate the content within shows.
Our strategy was to keep doing what we did best, but add MORE interactivity and infuse more social content within our live shows. The goal was to look, sound, and most importantly--FEEL social. Descriptions and links of highlights below.
We debuted our Drawing Board app in early 2018 and over the past 12 months, we found ourselves running with its capabilities because the app offered a seemingly limitless amount of creative options. You can add stickers and emojis to express sentiment or freehand telestrate with our in-house developed app we created with the functionalities of Snapchat and Instagram engineered into it.
As you can see the Drawing Board app allows talent to interact and engage with content in a much more connected fashion-be it social or customized experiences. These functions made our touchscreen into a regular character in our shows and also was a pipeline that funneled in opinions from users across the globe.
The evolution of social continues to transform, and we are keeping up with the changing landscape. With more social content existing in different formats, we leverage a tool called "Producer" which was developed with our network production in mind. It merges Tweets (text, image or video based) with Instagram or Snapchat Stories, all with a few strokes of a keyboard. This allows us to tell a more holistic story by merging different content creators, different platforms, and different formats. Prior to this, Instagram and Snapchat stories lived separately--a completely different API or pipeline. Merging them involved downloading, editing, rendering, etc. A labored workflow that was slow. We can turn around a story in minutes mixing Twitter content with Instagram Stories or Facebook posts.
At Super Bowl 53, social integration was leading the creative content creation. We kicked off the week with Super Bowl Opening Night where viewers were given the power to rock their vote and control the flow of our show. A portion of the show that night was dictated by a majority vote.
We had over 20 network cameras covering Opening Night, but we knew we realistically had hundreds of cell phone cameras capturing content---from players walking the floor to the fans in attendance. We integrated Snapchat and Instagram stories from players who were capturing the media covering the event. A very cool 360 degree look at the event.
We also hosted a number of players in our live broadcasts Super Bowl week and we drew inspiration from popular social trends--like puppies! For our interview with Steelers wideout, @TeamJuJu, we brought in puppies outfitted with fan/viewer questions attached to their leashes for the interview.
It's worth mentioning, EVERY. SINGLE. INTERVIEW. we produce year round, is researched, developed and supported by social content. We curate and display posts, using them to launch conversations, provide levity, or to help illustrate a specific topic. We used social content to enhance our interview with at Super Bowl LIII and asked former Steelers linebacker @jharrison9292 about his workout routine--something you have to see to believe. Integrating his social workout videos as he addressed it created a completely different visual and feel during the interview.
We pride ourselves in being timely about joining viral conversations and more importantly, having interactive displays that mimic the a user's experience on their personal table or phone. How many of you found yourself tapping the play button to see whether your heard "laurel" or "yanny"?
A key feature for our integration team are the workflows we've engineered--inserting social content literally takes 2 keystrokes to make it on air. This is imperative, because the latency of taking social content to broadcast from the moment content is posted is negligible--and allows us to produce moments where a non-verified user--just your average fan, has the ability to take a jab at our Hall of Fame Cornerback, @DeionSanders
Truth be told, our viewership numbers dipped this year due to a real decrease in overall TV viewership. Our studio show NFL GameDay Prime was up +3% overall compared to 2017 and our Thursday Night Football postgame show was up +20% overall--it was our most watched season since TNF began airing on broadcast network in 2013.
Outside of of Nielsen metrics, we track the number of social content we integrate into our shows. From August 2018 thru Super Bowl LIII (February 4th), we integrated over 1,100 pieces of social images/videos into our live broadcasts. This isn't counting your standard text tweets/posts. Additionally, we're able to integrate this high volume while adhering to an immense sense of social responsibility. We don't just curate, bur we diligently research and survey EVERY PIECE of content to ensure we are properly attributing the content its rightful owner. In a digital/social age where so much content that lives online gets stolen by or goes viral from an account that does not own the original right, we go the extra mile to find, verify and credit the true original owner of a given piece of content.
Another team goal, was continued support of our reporters and talent, who we view as influencers and content creators. We outfitted them with the best phones on the market and task them with creating content--content for their social platforms and in turn, content we are able to integrate into our live broadcasts. The symbiotic relationship has created wins for our talent and reporters who owned a +9.21% higher interaction rate than ESPN NFL talent/reporters and a +59.893% higher interaction rate than FOX NFL talent/reporters from February 2018 to February 2019. Our talent/reporter roster also had a +201.6% and +649.8% higher Twitter follower growth rate than ESPN NFL and FOX NFL talent reporters respectively in that time frame.
Fill out the form below and we'll work on connecting you to the entry creator!