Blog Archives

An awful game can’t stop the Super Bowl – Notes on ratings, ads, Bruno Mars and the dominance of the NFL

The Seattle Seahawks took 12 seconds to score against the Denver Broncos Sunday night. Perhaps more accurately, it took the Broncos 12 seconds to score on themselves. Both of those trends would maintain throughout the night as Super Bowl XLVIII (that’s 48 for the Roman-numerically challenged) turned into a showcase for the best defense in the league and a nightmare for one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, who now has lost more games in the postseason than anyone else.

Robert Deutsch // USA Today

Robert Deutsch // USA Today

The third-largest blowout in Super Bowl history may have been responsible for some of the early exits from the party I attended. And surely it was trouble for FOX and its legion of advertisers, who paid $4 million for the most expensive 30 seconds on television.

Only it wasn’t, because the NFL is the biggest draw in entertainment today, and its dominance has never been more evident.

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Tape delays, Twitter and #NBCfail: Olympic coverage in a media-saturated world

Tuesday was one of the greatest days in U.S. Olympic history. After early struggles in the pool, Michael Phelps and his American teammates captured gold in the 200-meter freestyle relay. It was Phelps’s second medal of the day and his 19th overall, making him the most decorated Olympian ever.

Across the Olympic Park, the U.S. women’s gymnastics team took home gold for the first time since Kerri Strugg and the 1996 Atlanta squad. This 2012 team is better, say those who know something about gymnastics.

Gold in premiere sports, drawing even with the Chinese atop the overall medal count – it was a banner day for the Stars and Stripes.

But as I write this Tuesday evening, Americans are the only people in the first world who haven’t seen any of it happen.

Don’t worry, though, it’s 7 o’clock. NBC is pushing play on the VCR right about now.

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[Clickworthy] The media scramble to report on Obamacare decision

“We’re not racing you”; in a decision this long and complicated, “no one will remember if you move this story first or we do,” but the “only thing anyone will ever remember is if we f*** it up.”

A lot happened in 15 minutes at the Supreme Court June 28. The Court issued its Opinion on the controversial Affordable Care Act, and reporters quickly attempted to boil it down to a simple yea or nay. Constitutional or not. Problem was, the opinion was lengthy, and the first two pages didn’t quite synch up with the remainder. I’ve already documented the flubs by CNN and Fox News, blowing the call in a (misguided, I would argue) attempt to be first.

Over the holiday, Tom Goldstein, the publisher of the now-on-the-radar SCOTUSblog, provided a behind the scenes glimpse at the chaos of those 15 minutes. In his account, we discover the struggle just to get access to the Opinion of the Court, how interpretive errors were made, and how even the White House couldn’t get a clear answer as to what had just happened.

The story is fascinating, and Goldstein’s critique of gathering and dissemination by various news outlets is balanced and wise – pretty good stuff from someone who reminds us at beginning and end that he is not a journalist. The only way we know it’s true? No true eyeball-seeking journalist would ever publish such a quality piece at 10 p.m. on a Saturday of a holiday weekend. Hat-tip to Jay Rosen at NYU for keeping the scanners on while we were barbequing.

CNN, others in media, blow Supreme Court decision on healthcare… So now can we get some responsiblity in reporting?

My television tuned to the network morning programs; my browser displayed a handful of news sites and Twitter. With breakfast in hand, I was in full breaking news mode Thursday morning, awaiting word of the Supreme Court’s opinion on the Affordable Care Act. More simply, healthcare reform; more partisan, Obamacare.

A few minutes after 9 a.m. central time, every major news network was on the air, trying to be the first to summarize the 193-page opinion. CNN, the former cable news king now in dire need of ratings, was the first major source to make a declaration. Individual mandate: Unconstitutional. Healthcare law: Thrown out. On-air, online, on social media, through email blast, CNN was ready to celebrate an all-out, multi-channel, breaking news of the year scoop!

Except they were wrong. A misreading of the opinion, they claimed.

Individual mandate: Constitutional. Healthcare law: Upheld.

Courtesy Gary He (

CNN wasn’t alone (though they were certainly most prominent). Fox News displayed the incorrect opinion on a banner during their live television coverage. A number of Republican political figures jumped the gun in celebration. Others goofed. Read all about it.

It used to be that getting a scoop mattered. Beating a competitor by an entire day in a printed newspaper really meant something. But today, when information is disseminated over various channels within minutes (or seconds) of each other, does being first really mean that much? Is it worth being wrong? Ask CNN. Sure, the tagline could have read: “We get you the news 11 seconds before the other guys.” Enviable, to be sure. Instead, they made “The most trusted name in news” read like a relic from a time when their newsroom had some sense.

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NASCAR’s Keselowski sets Twitter on fire

I watched my first NASCAR race in at least five years Monday night. By early Tuesday morning, Matt Kenseth had won the Daytona 500.

No one cared about that.

It was a weekend full of rain, and when the race finally started, it might as well have kept on pouring to save us from endless laps of drivers laying back and playing it safe.

Then, Juan Pablo Montoya crashed into a jet dryer during a caution, sending gallons of jet fuel pouring down the steep bank of turn three. Whole thing caught on fire. Big fire. During the two-hour red flag, we endured the FOX broadcast team’s filler antics and learned a new use for Tide laundry detergent.

Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski, relatively unknown driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, was sending this Tweet – an in-car view of the fire on the track. Keselowksi had his phone with him in his car, and during the red flag stoppage, took to Twitter… a lot.

Keselowski Tweeted 39 times over the next two hours. When the race finally resumed, he fell victim to one of many wrecks in those final 40 laps. Just minutes after his battered car came to rest upon the midfield grass, came this:

Fans – the hardcore and the casual – ate it up. Keselowski boosted his Twitter following by more than 100,000 people, the exact number depending on your source. The first interaction with fans from a driver while he was in the car on the track… pretty cool stuff. And while it was true that he – along with every other driver on the speedway – was stopped, it still gave birth to the notion of texting and driving at 200 m.p.h.

Perhaps a Facebook poke while bump drafting? Too much?

I couldn’t help but think that the sport’s first in-car Tweet would also be its last. After all, Major League Baseball, the NFL, the NBA – none of the major sports allow the use of social media in-game. Coaches want their players’ heads in the game, not in the Twittersphere. Owners don’t want their players sharing something stupid in the heat of the moment with their Facebook fans.

But this is the brandiest of all sports brands. CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell said as much during his coverage of the race (on Twitter, of course). Tuesday morning, NASCAR announced that Keselowski would not be fined for his actions:

“NASCAR will not penalize Brad Keselowski for his use of Twitter during last night’s Daytona 500. Nothing we’ve seen from Brad violates any current rules pertaining to the use of social media during races. As such, he won’t be penalized. We encourage our drivers to use social media to express themselves as long as they do so without risking their safety or that of others.” [emphasis added]

In a sport where drivers spit, cuss, and hurl helmets at one another and it’s a good thing, what is there really to lose by allowing live Tweeting? And there is plenty to gain. FOX’s Daytona coverage was all about the Tweety bird, and the stars of the event participating would only add to the experience.

I’ve already written once this month about how Twitter has become the world’s sports bar. When big games are on, reading a Twitter feed can be just as entertaining as the event itself (if not moreso). But while we can read the thoughts of reporters, insiders, and the uniquely witty, LeBron James isn’t part of our immediate Miami Heat discussion. Chad Ochocinco isn’t jumping into his team’s game chatter (anymore). Even the Florida erm… Miami Marlins’ Logan Morrison, who is a bigger star because of his Twitter presence than his on-field presence, isn’t allowed to chime in until after his game is over (and even then, he better be careful).

NASCAR could be different. Of course, it may not seem like it would matter much. After all, chances are you’ll hear those same drivers being interviewed moments after whatever they could have Tweeted. That’s not the point. It has more to do with this feeling of interaction – that the drivers themselves are participating in our Average Joe discussion (Of Keselowski’s 39 Tweets,  34 were replies or retweets). That brings the sport closer to home than any other league has managed thus far. And that could make 800 left turns at Daytona a little more engaging.


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