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How espn can beat the crowd

April 3, 2011

Trucks from ESPN

Mark Cuban has a good post about ESPN’s struggles to take control of breaking sports news.

He suggests that despite massive efforts from journalists at ESPN who are using  Twitter, they aren’t really winning the battle and the threat is putting advertising dollars at risk.

“Today, sports news finds millions and millions of sports fans first via twitter.  Unfortunately for ESPN.com, they don’t control any ad space on your tweet stream.  ESPN no longer makes a penny from the first sports news you receive. That’s not good for them.”

ESPN has such a dominant position, it’s built a place for itself in the world by being the all seeing always on oracle of all things sports and now Twitter and social media in general is a huge threat.

Its monopoly position in this space means that’s it’s not been really challenged by many direct competitors, whereas in the general news market, there’s lots of competition for eyeballs and breaking news is a battle between players. This has forced organizations, like CNN and CBS, to embrace the crowd in their news gathering efforts.

Perhaps the way for ESPN to protect its position is to launch a massive drive for citizen sports journalists across the totality of the sporting landscape both amateur and professional.

The personal “kudos” of being selected as  an ESPN journalist would be significant and they can add layers on top of this incentive by encouraging them to compete for status and rewards according to number of followers, retweets, etc.

ESPN can then work with Twitter to build an advertising layer on top of this.

The technology exists to do it, I am sure Twitter would be interested is some ad revenue sharing, but it’s going to require another step change in thinking from ESPN.

It’s interesting how something that looks like an opportunity ends up become a problem.

Posted by Ed Cotton

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