Giants Get Social at Super Bowl XLVI
The New York Giants unified its TV, Web, and radio operations under one umbrella during the 2007 season. Four years later, both the team and its media operations are once again making a trip to the nation’s biggest sporting event. And this time social media is playing a key role in promoting content and allowing the players to interact with fans.
“A lot of players are immersed in Twitter and Facebook and when we saw what [President Barack] Obama did with Google+ we decided to do a Webcast with players answering questions submitted by fans,” says Don Sperling, Giants Entertainment, VP and executive producer. “We also used Google+ to allow four players to each be in a Google+ Hangout and be with five fans having a real conversation face to face via a laptop.”
Sperling credits Giants Entertainment Director of Digital Media Nilay Shah with the vision for the two firsts for professional sports franchises.
“Shah is an innovator and he is on the cusp of everything going on in digital and social media and he lives and breathes it,” adds Sperling. “He created an environment where we could do innovative things in sports using social media and while we may not have been first to use social media now we are having some unbelievable accomplishments.”
During the Google+ event a total of 20 fans (who won a contest) took part in the conversations with five video chatting with each player. The event, which took place on Thursday night, also allowed the players a chance to Tweet about themselves and also goof on their teammates.
“The amount of activity on our Twitter feed was unbelievable and there was so much buzz,” says Sperling. “It was a win-win.”
The team’s Website, giants.com, is taking a unique approach towards allowing access to videos. During the 2008 Super Bowl, Giant’s cornerback Sam Madison had a camera to offer up a first-person perspective of Super Bowl activities. This year, defensive end Dave Tollefson has a FlipCam and is shooting video during the day.
That video is then edited down to a short package using Apple Final Cut Pro (the team has three editing systems and a laptop editor on site in Indianapolis).
The twist for fans is that in order to view it they have to first “unlock” it by liking it on Facebook. Once 10,000 fans like the “Tolle Cam” video it is available to be viewed.
“Everyday the fans have to go on Facebook and like the site and share it,” explains Sperling. “Once they do that we send out an alert letting them know it is unlocked. It really gives the fans a reason to talk about the videos and get engaged.”
And FlipCam, adds Sperling, gives the video just the right look.
“You don’t want the video to look too good because you want the fans to feel like they are there or a fly on the wall. Also the players don’t know how to operate a real camera.”
While a lot of energy is focused on the dotcom and social media operations there is also plenty dedicated to more traditional TV content. A nightly program called “Giants Road to the Super Bowl” is running on the MSG Network and at 11 a.m. on Super Bowl Sunday a 90-minute version of “Giants Opening Drive Live” will be broadcast on My9 in New York City. More than 30 staffers are on hand to shoot vide using four Sony 700 cameras in a studio at the team hotel and another studio will be up and in place for Sunday’s show in the hotel lobby. Two Sony EX cameras are also being used for ENG needs.
“We have everything under one roof and there is an efficiency across all of the platforms,” explains Sperling of the decision to have the TV, radio, and Web units all operate together. “It also creates a direct line of communication to all the media platforms and we can move people back and forth as needed.”
The “Road” show is shot live to tape and fed to MSG via satellite every day. On Sunday the main studio control room, located at the Timex Training facility in East Rutherford, NJ, will bring in the camera feeds from Indianapolis and cut the show there.
Much of the burden of coordinating the operations falls on Director of Production Christine Baluyot and Supervising Producer for Field Production Joe Scacciaferro.
“They are why all of this works on a daily basis,” adds Sperling. “We have the TV shows and then up to 60 Web shows and it’s great fun. It’s a lot of work but we cherish having a chance to come to the Super Bowl. This is what you build for.”