Similar to the level of integration that seen on CNN, ESPN is planning to ramp up Twitter usage both on and off air. In the past, they have used Twitter to follow prominent athletes and figures for breaking news as well as promoting stories on the ESPN site through official Twitter feeds. However, ESPN would like to reach the fans that are watching Twitter feeds while watching a television show like Sportscenter. Tactics include taking a more active role in Twitter during live events as well as providing selective tweets from sportscasters at rival sports networks.
This effort into making the 31 year old network more socially friendly is partly the result of Yahoo Sports reporter Adrian Wojnarowski consistently beating ESPN during the NBA draft. Wojnarowski repeatedly beat ESPN’s live coverage of the event by several minutes on each pick. ESPN’s media rights meant nothing on the Web while Wojnarowski made the ESPN coverage look slow. The main ESPN is planning on combating being scooped by adding Wojnarowski’s publicly broadcasted feed with 40 other prominent feeds into on-site aggregation.
Turner Sports has already experimented with this concept, but with a selective process in place. The team of 10 to 15 people at Turner chooses the best submissions on Twitter and published them into aggregation. ESPN’s editorial team follows about 2,000 athletes on Twitter to break stories and many of the ESPN personalities like Andy Katz and Pat Forde already have a great following on the social network. Female broadcasters also have a large following. For instance, Erin Andrews, ESPN sideline reporter, has about 615,000 followers.
ESPN is expected to roll out more involved Twitter tools later this year. They are currently building the aggregation tools for different sections of the website and will promote the feeds during major sporting events and live coverage of drafts.