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.

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.

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

What was Clickworthy in 2013

Back when I had time to blog, I’d occasionally write quick comments about popular topics circulating around the Internet, usually highlighting one article, essay, or video in particular that had an especially interesting or useful take on said issue. I labeled the posts “Clickworthy,” and if you search for that tag, you’ll find them.

If you follow me on Twitter (which you should!), you know that the Clickworthy principle captures most of what I do there. But alas, 140 characters doesn’t leave much space for introspection (or even a summary).

So, in the spirit of the overused year-end list, I have combed through a year of Tweets to present to you a lists of links that promise to be entertaining, informative, sometimes both, and occasionally neither. Without further ado, What was Clickworthy in 2013.

Clickworthy 2013 Features:
Boston Marathon Bombing  |  Surveillance, Snowden, and the Press

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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 (http://twitter.com/garyhe)

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.

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

[Clickworthy] Isolating ourselves behind a Facebook Wall

The problem […] is that we invite loneliness, even though it makes us miserable. The history of our use of technology is a history of isolation desired and achieved.

What Facebook has revealed about human nature—and this is not a minor revelation—is that a connection is not the same thing as a bond, and that instant and total connection is no salvation, no ticket to a happier, better world or a more liberated version of humanity.

The impact of technology on interpersonal relationships has been a favorite research topic of students who often find themselves in the middle of the phenomenon. Last year, at least half of my students’ communication research papers dealt with Facebook to some extent, half of those making social media the primary focus of the paper. How does Facebook affect friendships? Business communication? Marketing efforts? When something new comes along, we are curious about these things.

But at the base of it is our relationship with other people and the impact that has on ourselves. Facebook, after all, is about “friends,” right? Do we find social sustenance in curating our public profile, in interacting with one another on a virtual wall? Or, do we overuse a technological advancement meant only to complement our relationships as a replacement for the real face-to-face event?

Why do we allow technology – even technology with social intent – to leave us lonely? Social beings left unfulfilled by our own decisions.

Stephen Marche explored these psychological inconsistencies in a cover story for the Atlantic. I picked it up on a newsstand earlier this week and couldn’t put it down. This isn’t surface drivel about a pop topic. Marche throws data at you left and right as he contemplates a lonely world full of distant friends and the effort we endure to create polished virtual selves. He references a number of studies, using words like “longitudinal” along the way. It reads like a literature review stripped of parenthetical citations and laced with philosophical ponderings.

You’ll have to set aside a decent amount of time for the full read, but it’s well worth it. From a feeling of despair, Marche goes further to understand effective use of mediated technologies and a reordering of priorities.

Read the story. You’ll be ready to text, tweet, or wall post your way to something meaningful… like a cup of coffee with an old friend you realize you only know through a timeline.

Clickworthy Bonus: If you enjoyed Marche’s writing, are nowhere near retirement, and like being angry with your elders, read this essay from the April edition of Esquire.

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:

https://twitter.com/#!/keselowski/status/174367097344884737

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.

Super Bowl good for advertisers, great for social media, Twitter, Shazam

What a #SuperBowl Sunday night! The game between the #Giants and the #Patriots came down to the wire (not the one that Richard Simmons-esque character was bouncing on during the #Madonna halftime performance). I couldn’t think of a #betterway to end the football season than watching Eli and the G-men go with #whatworks as they vanquished Brady and New England (#SoLongVampires). To #makeitplatinum, the coin toss earned me some #freepapajohns before the hours upon hours of commercial messages turned my brain to #mushymush.

(Also, Jack in the Box went with #marrybacon. Don’t know how you fit that one into conversation, but it was an interesting strategy nevertheless.)

Worth the price of admission

We know the Super Bowl is all about marketing your brand. A 30-second spot this year went for $3.5 million. General Motors spent $28 million on 4 minutes worth of advertising for their Chevy line alone (plus whatever it cost to sponsor the game’s MVP award and the hashtag #superbowl on Twitter).

I’m of the inclination that the return is worth the investment. No other event attracts such a large audience among all of the major purchasing demographics. The cost per thousand viewers (CPM) for the 2011 Super Bowl was $27. A successful primetime drama or sitcom will charge near, or many times, north of that figure. Other special events, like award shows, often demand an even greater CPM.

Plus – and this is a major plus – what other event do audiences watch for the advertisements? News and entertainment programs leading up to and following Super Bowl Sunday will spend hours of additional airtime reairing the ads for comment at no charge. Not to mention the Super Bowl ad galleries that are featured prominently Monday on YouTube, Hulu – even the Google homepage. That’s why it’s not surprising – to me, at least – to see Forbes claiming that networks with broadcasting rights could easily fill the 70 available commercial slots at double the current rate. Yes, that’s $7 million for 30 seconds of celebrity cameo or cute animal stunts.

But that’s not the point of today’s post. That stuff happens every year. What was new – at least on a large scale – was the incorporation of social networking into the Super Bowl spots – particularly Twitter and Shazam.

Continue reading “Super Bowl good for advertisers, great for social media, Twitter, Shazam”