If you spent any time around the television (or your laptop) this weekend, you most likely were glued to the NFL Divisional Playoffs. One game in particular had my attention… The New York Giants versus the Green Bay Packers (cue NFL Films music).
Being a huge fan of G-Men, I was on the edge of my seat the whole game. However, it was one play that showed why social media is a great companion for sports broadcasts. With the Giants leading 3-0 in the first quarter, Packers receiver Greg Jennings apparently fumbled the football after a catch. Game referee Bill Leavy went to the replay booth to review it. Leavy decided that it wasn’t a fumble, despite the game broadcast showing multiple angles that the ball was coming out.
Former Vice President of Officiating for the National Football League, Mike Pereira, is now Fox NFL rules analyst. His Twitter feed is a must-read during football games because of his first-hand knowledge of the rules and game. Here is what he said after the ruling on Twitter:
A short time later, with numerous tweets that continued to question the call, he tweeted this:
Within seconds, Pereira was on-air to discuss the call and controversy. The move perfectly shows how social media and sports have gelled. It enhances a game broadcast and sports reporting. And the NFL isn’t the only league to understand social media’s importance.
During the NBA lockout, the league established a Twitter account to counterbalance what the NBA Players’ Association was tweeting. In the NHL, all teams have their own Twitter account. The engagement by the New York Rangers’ Jim Cerny is really eye-opening and informative. The NHL Network even shows tweets from players on its bottom line ticker during highlight shows.
Major League Baseball isn’t left out. During the 2011 season, the league established the MLB Fan Cave, where two lucky fans lived and breathed baseball. The Twitter feed for the Cave is a little more newsy now. But, during the season, they tweet photos of player and celebrity appearances, as well as interact with fans.
From a PR perspective, it’s great for the NFL, NHL, NBA, and MLB to use social media to not only promote its respective games, it’s also great for growing the brand. That’s a winning game plan for any business, not just the sports business.