TV is killing us with convergence and self-promotion

At one point during Game 3 of the World Series last night, there was a trivia interlude, asking viewers which of four Rockies held the franchise record for home runs. To participate, viewers were told to text their choice to Fox, or log onto FoxSports.com to vote.

Now, at the time, I thought that was pretty silly. Vote for something you could first find the answer to with a couple of clicks on the Web?

While the specific question might have been silly, the aim was not: Leverage the strengths of other mediums to further engage the audience, and expose them to other Fox products.

(Oddly, though, I could not unearth historical stats on FoxSports.com. Had to learn elsewhere that the answer is Todd Helton.)

I have been struck lately by how well TV sports broadcasters do, through spoken words, tickers, on-screen bugs and more, to tout their online and mobile products. The Red Sox pregame show on the local Fox affiliate last night included viewer comments scrolling across the bottom of the screen. Watch any Sunday morning football preview show, and they are answering viewers' fantasy football questions via the ticker, and actively seek such questions through lead-ins or close-outs of segments. A local Patriots weekly magazine show included promotional spots for online-only programming during the week and on game days.

Contrast that with my experience with reading the November/December issue of Yankee Magazine this morning. There was a good story about the transformation of Pittsfield, MA, into a can't-miss city on any visit to Western Massachusetts. Once I reached the end of the story, I made myself backtrack through the pages, because I was sure I must have missed a tease to go online to see more photos or share my Pittsfield travel stories. No such luck.

That would have been the elementary step. An interactive map might have been an intermediate step, showing all the different locales discussed in the article (there was quite an extensive list at the end of the print story). Pulling in ratings and reviews from Yelp and other sites might have been the more advanced step. Bonus points could have been achieved if they had their own ratings and reviews system and they solicited users to participate.

So I went online, to see if the Yankee staff did anything to enhance the online version of the story, and maybe just missed the opportunity to tease from print. Nay. The story is not even online yet.

I throw up my hands in disgust. How can we expect our audiences to engage with us and our products if we won't engage ourselves in stretching our thinking and leveraging the strengths of our platforms?


Heather said...

Spolay makes some great points, but I would like to add that although the article, "The Most Surprising City in New England," does not tease readers to go to YankeeMagazine.com, many of the other articles in the Nov/Dec issue do. (As a side note, the article does list links to all the attractions, lodgings, and restaurants mentioned in the article.) For instance, if Spolay told you about the article that featured Matthew Mead, "Let the Spirit Move You," he/she might have mentioned that the article teased people to our web site for directions on how to make a gingerbread harvest basket, or to download holiday gift tags for the Twelve Days of Christmas. Also, in every issue of Yankee Magazine, we give readers 10 Things to Do On The Web. In fact, you should check this out now -
www.YankeeMagazine.com! And check in again later since we do have plans in the works to develop more interactive elements that relate to our stories.

- Heather, Yankee Magazine

spolay said...


Thanks for your comment. You must regularly be monitoring the buzz regarding your products, a practice we should all pursue in this business. Even better that you entered the conversation! I very much appreciate that.

Candidly, the lack of a tease from the Pittsfield article did surprise me, because I am ordinarily impressed -- especially within the last 12 to 18 months -- at how much you integrate your print and Web products. Please accept my apology for glossing over those facts.

The larger point of my blog post was to choose products outside of Ottaway -- the primary target of this blog -- to show examples of both convergence and missed opportunities. Because I frequently focus on what we are or are not doing, I thought it would be instructive to turn our eyes outside our newspaper universe.

Can't wait to see your future interactive elements. Please shoot me an e-mail as they come to fruition so I may check them out!

-Sean "spolay" Polay