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For Game 2, which screened today my time, ESPN did a special broadcast aimed at the 12 to 17 year old market. Unfortunately, it was a terrible experience.
But there were several problems with how ESPN delivered its stream. These four sat on a couple of sofas and were only seen during the timeouts and in other breaks in the game. They were personable enough, but their in-game commentary style soon grated on me. But in reality, what that meant was inane in-game chatter with very little basketball analysis.
Indeed, the whole ESPN live stream experience was a poor imitation of what it set out to copy: Twitch. There was no interactivity.
During the 15 minutes or so I could bear to watch it, there was zero interaction with the audience. ESPN executives see the whole thing as an experiment in the ongoing quest by TV networks to give viewers between 12 and 17 a feed of game action that best suits them.
So let me explain what ESPN was going for, and why it fell so flat. Firstly, the reason ESPN did a special broadcast on its app for teen viewers is because digital native youngsters are used to watching live events in a different way from us oldies. The following quote in the Variety article from Tim Hanlon, CEO of media and advertising consultancy Vertere Group, had the right intentions: This is really the Twitch-ification of television.
A whole generation of younger males are looking at data, graphics and interaction with others as their primary focus and the game is almost sort of the background to that activity.
It evolved out of Justin. Twitch is now owned by Amazon, and its scale has grown accordingly. I interviewed a Twitch creator back in March and learned that a big part of its appeal is the prolific use of emoji and other cartoon-like elements, by both the host streamer and the audience.
Or for that matter, watching the game on tv and tweeting about it on your mobile phone as millennials and people of my generation are apt to do.
On Twitch, everything happens on the one screen - the live action and the audience participation - so it feels much more immersive. Just how popular is Twitch anyway? According to specialist stats service TwitchTracker , in May Twitch had an average of 1,, concurrent viewers, who could select from just under 50, channels to watch.
Just over 1. But part of the reason ESPN is doing these app experiments is that tv viewership is down this year.
According to Variety : In the overnight ratings, Game 1 drew a 3. And how teens consume content these days is on mobile-centric services like Twitch and Snapchat, not on television sets. While the game 2 experiment failed, at least in my eyes, it could still work - if ESPN adds audience interactivity to the live stream and cuts back on the inane commentary.
I think they also need to do better with the data nuggets, which were few and far between when I watched the stream.
Provided ESPN eventually gets it right, this experiment may yet provide a gateway for some of us older folks i. But first it has to convince the kids to tune in. Your feedback is much appreciated too.
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