Instant Reaction: Twitter Volleys to Mainstream Media


(cc) Flickr user Koltregaskes

Laptop open here in front of me, I’m absolutely engrossed in about the third hour I’ve watched in a row of this fantastic tennis match at Wimbledon’s Centre Court.

The match literally just ended, and a heartbreaking five-set match (including a 30 game, 16-14 clincher for Roger) has been nothing short of amazing. The thing is: I know I wasn’t alone in watching this historic match.

I started watching pretty early on this morning, around the third set when Roger was pulling together a tie-breaker win. The general chatter among friends and followers had little to do with tennis, or if they did, it was a small acknowledgment of that Twitter would keep them in the know.

I find it fascinating though that the normal, Sunday morning, light chatter on Twitter quickly turned into a “are you watching this?” as the fifth set kept plugging along. It was more a call of the community to get to their television and flick straight over to the epic set. It was a grueling match, completely entertaining – but the word of mouth power of Twitter drove the audience away from 140 characters to live television.

This is what I think is the most misunderstood power of Twitter. It isn’t about keeping a contained conversation – it’s about flagging things that need to be developed further. Whether it was something vain like the call to watch Chuck or something more breaking or revolutionary, the questions within these trending topics wasn’t what was inside the twittersphere, it was why we needed to look beyond it.

Wimbledon was a tiny, ignorable case study for the most part. It wasn’t self-contained to Twitter, I saw similar questions in my Facebook stream. It’s probably another chink in the MSM armor, but, to me, it’s fascinating that global events have a community that exists beyond ISPs, time zones, and borders.

Sports and media go hand in hand, especially major and live tournaments. The US Soccer run from the last weeks had similar legs online, but I don’t know if we’ll get a real test of the system any time soon. I’d argue that the Winter Olympics offer the opportunity, but given they are in North American time zones, the possibility for an overseas spoiler is slim because of the timing of events. Had this been around for Turino in 2006 – or if the medium still exists/operates like it does in the summer of 2012 for London – it presents a fascinating challenge for sports media. (Just like year’s past, I’m assuming that ESPN will broadcast next summer’s World Cup live, so we won’t get to test this theory then).

NBC had the live broadcast this morning – it would have been useless to those who tracked it online if they didn’t. This just may be the biggest change for which media will have to prepare. The twitter sphere demands live coverage (just check #CNNFAIL). Does this mean that it will be necessary to broadcast non-primetime, live coverage of overseas sporting events from now on? It’s the only way media will be able to provide the access and coverage the audience wants – and the word of mouth among fans will have to be the TV guide we need to find the way.

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One Comment on “Instant Reaction: Twitter Volleys to Mainstream Media”

  1. […] isn’t with that point – I think the first time I truly saw this phenomenon happen was during the Sunday morning Wimbeldon final last summer – because I believe that an active social media discussion can cause a slight behavioral […]


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