Twitter polls are fun, but if you are using their results to make programming decisions for any content other than more tweets, you should have your head examined. The latest example of this came on Tuesday night, when the Rockies were playing the Cubs and ESPN was running their normal booth of Matt Vasgersian, A-Rod, and Jessica Mendoza on their flagship network and a Statcast with Jason Benetti, Eduardo Perez, and Mike Petriello on ESPN2.
I am not qualified to make any comments about which respective booth I think was better, as I was at the game. That being said, I know Benetti does a great job on White Sox telecasts in addition to the fact that I’m happy when I see he’s on the call for a Wisconsin football or basketball game in the ESPN family. The statcast trended on Twitter and drew rave reviews. Nevertheless, I knew when I saw this Awful Announcing poll that its results would be very far out of wack with how the public watched the game:
On Wednesday, the viewership results came in:
Ultimately, over nine times as many people watched the ESPN broadcast as the one on ESPN2. This, despite the fact that social media commentary on the latter was overwhelmingly positive and, at least on my feed, A-Rod and Mendoza were being panned (here’s a negative review from Andrew Marchand).
Twitter is invaluable for media members as a platform that generally has a 10-minute head start on breaking news, and as a place where your work and your ideas can get in front of important eyeballs. But it’s often not a reflective cross-section of the decisions that the general public is making, and should never be treated as such unless there is corroborating evidence that comes from totally outside that ecosystem. For example, how many media members realize that Reddit has more daily active users than Twitter, and that its users spend 2.5 times as many minutes per day there?
This should not be read as a tirade that social media is all evil and has no utility, but Twitter should arguably not even be a factor in how a network makes programming decisions.
(While we’re here, one thing I’d love to be a part of the growing side-cast trends is for there to be options to watch playoff games with your local announcer. I spent all season watching Brian Anderson and Bill Schroeder call Brewers games. Why can’t I spend this special time with them?)