ESPN’s NFL32 Turns to Social Media for Topics With ‘Facebook Faceoff’

ESPN will enable Fans to determine some discussion topics

ESPN, Looking to increase the level of interactivity with its and the NFL’s fans, has developed a segment in one of its new NFL programs, NFL32, that will allow fans to submit questions via Facebook — questions that will hopefully help the ESPN show create feisty debate in a segment called Facebook Faceoff.

NFL32 is designed to be a yearlong one-hour show that features ESPN’s Suzy Kolber and Chris Mortenson as hosts and includes a variety of the network’s other NFL analysts. It uses a free-flowing format that the company touts as being highly interactive.

Now the show is taking interactivity to a new level by soliciting input from members of its Facebook friends. On its Facebook page NFL32 has posted the following:

Want to help stir things up on our NFL32 panel? Thursday we debut a new segment called “Facebook Faceoff”. Submit topics you want to see us debate on TV, and we’ll see which ones cause the biggest differences of opinion.

I have to say I like this plan on many levels. It helps bring broadcasting out of its shell and enable it to more directly interact with fans. I often turn on a sports program and find that it just seems to be a regurgitation of what I have heard on every other sports program. While there is always the danger that ESPN will select issues that cater to this mindset, at least there is a chance that it will open new avenues of conversation.

Broadcast sports programming often seems to talk down to sports fans. On the other hand I find on a variety of sites around the Internet where fans who can intelligently talk about issues that go much deeper than Brady vs. Tebow but about the impact of losing an offensive line coach or the lack of blocking issues from a tight end.

I doubt that the new show will dig down to this level of detail since those topics are not controversial, but it does open the door to more fan interactivity on sports shows. In the past it seemed that the only interaction that ESPN and others had was the annoying Twitter feed at the bottom of the page. If I want to read a Twitter feed my TV is not the place I want to do so.

A quick look at some of the first topics offered for “Facebook Faceoff” include Tebow, Raiders and Tebow, coaching changes in Chicago (Paul did you submit that?) and should the Lions draft another cornerback or a left tackle. Not earth shattering but it is a start.

Just the start for social media
It seems that networks and even news sites are starting to embrace social media and the ability to interact instantaneously with fans. The growth and popularity of Twitter, especially among athletes is just one example.

ESPN struck Twitter gold earlier this week with its hour mostly devoted to Tim Tebow. The show was the most popular on Twitter during its broadcast and was picked up and rerun on several sites. We expect that ESPN will use that program as a template in the future to boost ratings during off-peak viewing times.

Another use of social; media is CBS Sports live “5th Quarter with Gary Danielson” chat which has been running after SEC football games. You do hear regional baseball broadcasts that also will answer select Twitter questions but it always seems canned. Maybe we will start seeing a segment in pregame and postgame shows that enables fans to directly interact with either athletes or the broadcasters as they talk with the athletes.


  1. Mark A. Warters says

    Im beside myself with Collin’s love affair with A. Luck. He doesnt jump off the page to me. He constantly bombards us daily with Romo…and Luck! I dont think either player will win a Super bowl. Luck has a candy arm…Romo has too many brain cramps when in a big spot. Someone PLEEEEEZE STOP HIM!!! Collin is like a GROUPIE!!! I cant take it anmore!!! HELP….PLEASE…HELP!!!!!!

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