Any sports fan that has watched ESPN in the last year knows how much promotion there has been of hashtags and Twitter accounts. It makes sense that ESPN wants to promote their broadcasters and journalists but why the Twitter push and not the Facebook or YouTube push? In May of 2013, Twitter announced they had a deal with ESPN to distribute ESPN highlights. What is interesting is that most ESPN Twitter accounts do not use Vine, which is owned by Twitter, as they share their video content through ESPN.com.
It is quite obvious that Twitter and ESPN are strong partners. While watching the College Football Playoff today I saw this when I opened my Twitter iPhone app:
Every time I use the “Discover” option on Twitter I see plenty of ESPN related sports tweets and Twitter accounts. It is important to note that I use Twitter mostly to track sports scores and information. I am the ideal Twitter user to receive promoted tweets from sports accounts. Interestingly, most of the ESPN promotion on Twitter is not through promoted tweets or paid ads. It is just a push on the discover tab and during major sporting events.
I have no idea how much the contract is between Twitter and ESPN. What I do know is that Twitter does very well with live events. For quite some time I have stated that Twitter could easily dominate the sports world. Anything that is happening in real time is a struggle for Google. Google cannot index websites, tweets and Facebook updates fast enough to give sports fans what they are looking for in the moment.
As we progress in 2015 it will be interesting to see how YouTube tries to make a dent in the sports world. YouTube and sports could easily go hand in hand. A YouTube “Short” type app similar to Vine would be fantastic. Most of the highlights I see on Twitter, that are not through ESPN apps, are Vine videos. Some of these Vine videos are getting over 100,000 loops in a matter of 10 or 15 minutes. Imagine if YouTube had a sports section that was just looping highlights of your favorite team, player or sport. That would be a huge get for Google and YouTube.
A big player in the social sports world is Facebook. Although most people may not realize it, the largest sports “conversation” is on Facebook. This makes sense because Facebook is built for conversations while Twitter is not. If I want to blast out my feelings about the Alabama vs Ohio State game I cannot do it on Twitter because I can only use 140 characters per tweet. If I really wanted to let my friends and family know how I felt I would post on Facebook. Well, most people would. I would rather write a blog post for my website because it is my content. That is another article for another time.
All that being said, expect to see many more hashtags and Twitter handles being promoted by ESPN in 2015. It would not shock me to see almost every player being introduced with their Twitter handle soon. Why not show the Twitter handle of PGA Golfers when they show the leaderboard of the Masters? When NFL Players are introducing themselves on Monday Night Football why not display their Twitter handle beside their name, height and weight? This just makes sense. It makes even more sense for individual sports like tennis, golf, boxing and UFC.
What do you think ESPN will do to continue to try and socialize sports? Will they continue to build a Twitter presence? Will they jump on board with YouTube? Will Facebook be the major player that takes all the sports conversation?