If there is a type of TV show just screaming (sometimes literally) for socialization — it’s sports, and now thanks to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, there are more soapboxes than ever on which the sports fan to spout off. ESPN is looking to tap into that fan-ergy with SportsNation, a new daily live show that incorporates instant viewer polls, audience tweets and viral videos.
The show debuted Monday (hat tip to Mediaite) on ESPN 2 and we caught the second episode yesterday. According to the SportsNation web site, the show’s goal is “to be the most interactive show on TV.” Viewers can interact with the program via its site, Twitter, Facebook and a good ole-fashioned telephone.
The “interactivity” is a bit of a mixed bag, and sometimes feels like more of a stunt than a show built from the ground up for audience participation. The opening segment was a poll asking a series of questions like “Where will LeBron [James] play in 2009-2010?” or “Would you buy the Cubs for $900 million?” Each host gives their opinion while the audience votes on the web site with the results shown on-air.
The “Fake Calls from Real Fans” segment was a bit more original. Viewers call in posing (poorly) as a celeb athletes to ask questions or just say what “they” are up to. It’s a nice way to crowd-source jokes, and was pretty funny.
In “Fannish or Foolish,” SportsNation read from tweets sent to the show, and the hosts judge whether those tweets are spot-on (fannish) or just silly (foolish).
Viewers are also invited to submit viral video clips of sports-related activities that are then broadcast on air.
Overall, SportsNation still feels like other traditional sports programs. Sure, they occasionally cut to the audience for a tweet or a poll, but it’s still predominately two heads talking. It would be nice to see social media used more creatively rather than just asking, “What did our SportsNation audience think?” and then cutting to some kind of graphic.
Lots of shows are jumping into the social media game. Rival sports network Versus has its own fan-generated show in Fanarchy, which connects users via webcams on-air to rant about sports topics.
SportsNation is dipping its toe in the social waters; hopefully they’ll dive in more deeply and give social media fans something to scream about.