Watch out sports world: ESPN is turning its focus to Twitter.
As Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand reports, the sports giant wants to increase its use of Twitter as an increasing number of people check out the site while watching television. (Quickish will confirm that fact for you.)
“Twitter is a news feed, and we want our reporters to be part of that mix,” Patrick Stiegman, ESPN.com’s vice president and editor-in-chief, told SBJ. “The two-screen experience is real. It’s how a lot of people are following live events now.”
Ourand postulates that the decision is at least in part driven by the increasing pace of the sports news cycle. He cites the tweets of Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski during the NBA draft, which consistently broke news before ESPN’s analysts could say it on the air. Pre-Twitter, Sportscenter was the place for news. That’s no longer the case, a fact ESPN realises. If they are going to compete in terms of breaking news, they need to be quick. And that means Twitter.
The Worldwide Leader already has some reporters and personalities with large presences. Matthew Berry, Jay Bilas, ESPN Stats Info, Bruce Feldman (although he might not work there anymore), Pat Forde, Andy Katz, Adam Schefter, Bill Simmons, Jayson Stark, and Marc Stein all made Sports Illustrated‘s recent Twitter 100 list of must-follows. (The Quickish 25-ish included Katie Baker, Bill Barnwell, Scott Van Pelt, and Ron Wechsler.)
Michelle Beadle caused a stir when she tweeted out a picture of her in a red dress.
But, clearly, this news signals a new phase in ESPN’s efforts to bring its brand to the world. The key will be the ability of the network’s huge number of staffers to walk the line between not tweeting and overdoing it. Plenty of people have managed to figure that out before.
Anecdotally, I can say I have noticed an increased amount tweeting from ESPN personalities over the past few weeks. There also seems to be an increase in the number of staffers with handles. Or perhaps the bigger names I follow are more frequently retweeting their lesser-known colleagues. Either way, it’s clear the initiative is already underway.