Periscope: The Future of Women’s Sports Media Coverage

Within the last year, Twitter launched their new live-streaming service Periscope that lets you share and experience live-stream video from your smartphone or tablet. The immediacy of the application provides viewers with real-time access of first-person scenes through the uploader’s eyes.  Whether it’s an unfolding news event or a behind-the-scenes look at a sports game, it creates a unique perspective for viewers that want to learn and see more. Viewers also can send comments, which makes it more of an active viewing experience where they have the ability to ask questions and interact with the person who is live-streaming. Once a broadcast is over, others can watch a replay within Periscope for up to 24 hours. After that, the live-stream video is removed from the application, but Periscope users have the option to save the broadcasts to their mobile devices and share it on other social media sites.

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Recently, sports fans have been pulling out their smartphones to broadcast their perspective at games. But along with this opportunity to live-stream videos, a huge debate has been sparked on the use of Periscope to broadcast games you’d otherwise have to pay for on TV. A Boston Globe article states that these applications have “alarmed some sports executives, who worry they threaten to undermine the professional leagues’ exclusive hold on images by streaming pictures live on the Internet to anyone who wants to watch.” But this largely has to do with men’s professional sports, that draw most of their annual revenue from TV deals.

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For women’s sports teams, the Periscope App means an opportunity for quick, easy, more direct, and cheaper coverage of their games. In this GeekWire article, the author explains how the Seattle Reign FC, an inaugural member of the Women’s National Soccer League, plans to use Periscope to broadcast their matches. The Seattle Reign FC Owner, Bill Predmore, explained that the reason they chose Periscope over the other video streaming service, Meerkat, was because of “its ability to achieve live broadcasts” and “its deep integration with Twitter.” All they have to do is download the Periscope App and mount an iPhone 6+ on a tripod. Owner Bill Predmore continues, “As this channel develops we are considering adding an external mic to allow a play-by-play announcer to accompany the broadcast, but for now we think simple is better, even in the best-case scenario we won’t achieve the fidelity of a typical broadcast, but Periscope will allow us to spin up broadcasts at times and locations we would have never considered in the past.”

Broadcasting sports games comes with some serious financial hurdles that have made it difficult for Women’s Sports Leagues to live-stream their games. In this Sports Tech Wire article, it explains,“Broadcasting sports today requires cameras, sound equipment, studio technicians, technical producers, on-air talent, off-air talent, satellite capabilities, and lots of manpower to operate it all. Even smaller broadcasts that operate under an online service like Ustream still require significant investments to create a product that consumers consider worth watching. No matter the quality of the broadcast or the breadth of audience the broadcast reaches, those that wish to broadcast sports have up until recently faced significant financial hurdles that could only be overcome with outside investment, particularly from corporate advertisers.”

The Seattle Reign FC will not have to face these hurdles. They are able to broadcast their games with an Internet connection using nothing but an iPhone 6 mounted on a tripod. As stated in this article, “The only direct cost comes from the electrical outlet used to charge the phone.” Although the quality of these amateur live streams can’t compare with those of professional broadcasts like ESPN, it gives fans a free and accessible opportunity to connect and watch their team play. In the past, this was never an option for women’s sports.

Throughout the history of media coverage and sport, the under-representation of women’s sports in the traditional media has remained prominent. In the study, “It’s Dude Time!”: A Quarter Century of Excluding Women’s Sports in Televised News and Highlight Shows by Cheryl Cooky, Michael A. Messner, and Michela Musto, they look at the quantity of coverage of women’s sports in televised sports news. Although the last 25 years has seen a dramatic movement of girls and women into sport, the study indicates that the quantity of coverage of women’s sports in televised sports news remains significantly low.

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The graph above depicts the three network affiliates (KCBS, KNBC, KABC) and ESPN SportCenter’s main broadcast coverage to women’s sports from 1989 to 2014. This graph shows that the Network News’ slight increase to 3.2% in 2014 indicates that the coverage of women’s sports remains substantially lower than its coverage 10, 15, 20, and 25 years ago. Additionally, SportsCenter’s coverage has remained flat, never rising above 2.5%.

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Click HERE to view the graph on the web

The graph I created above uses additional data from this study to visually show the combined coverage of all the news and broadcasts from local network affiliates and SportsCenter in 2014. It displays that 74.5% of the news coverage was devoted to what the study terms, “the big three” (Men’s Basketball, Football and Baseball.) Additionally, the tiny slivers within the graph depict that Women’s Basketball (2.3%) and Women’s Other (0.5%) combine for an amount of 2.8% total coverage. This is next to nothing compared to the overwhelming 95.4% (subtracting neutral coverage as well) in men’s sports. This graph gives an accurate image of the uneven coverage of sport in television sports media.

But, there is hope! The introduction of social media applications have provided women’s sports fans and female athletes with more access to women’s sports. Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and now Periscope have provided coverage for women’s sports fans when traditional media has not. Below is a video that elaborates on this idea:

I also had the chance to ask the Associate Director of Athletic Communications for the University of Michigan Women’s Lacrosse and Soccer teams, Whitney Dixon, a couple of questions on her experience with social media and women’s college sports. The questions and answers from my interview can be read below.

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Bianca Brueckner: From your experience as the Associate Director of Athletic Communications for the University of Michigan Women’s Lacrosse and Soccer teams, do you believe that social media helps to balance the underrepresentation of women’s sports in traditional media?

Whitney Dixon: For communications professionals around the country, social media provides an incredible platform for us to tell the stories of our student-athletes, coaches and programs, and interact with our many audiences. The way people like to consume their news and entertainment continues to evolve and each platform allows us to connect with our audiences in a different way. Data has shown that the reach we have on our various social platforms at Michigan can far exceeds that of traditional print media. In addition, a great deal of the traffic we get on our website, MGoBlue.com, is driven by social media posts rather than users going directly to the site through their web browser.

Bianca Brueckner: Could you give an example of social media helping to balance the underrepresentation of the women’s sports within your job?

Whitney Dixon: Each social platform continues to evolve and add new features that allow us to showcase the great stories about our student-athletes and programs, and connect with our many audiences. For example, Facebook Live and Periscope allow us to stream video in real-time. From short behind-the-scenes videos to screaming press conferences and entire sporting events, we can connect with our fans and provide them an opportunity to see our student-athletes and teams in action more than ever before. Those platforms allow us to supplement the coverage that is provided by national television networks, print and online media, and our own athletics website, MGoBlue.com.

Bianca Brueckner: What is your favorite social media app to use in updating fans of the women’s lacrosse and soccer teams? Why is this your favorite app? 

Whitney Dixon: I can’t say that I have a favorite because each social media platform provides a different way for us to connect with our various audiences. And different types of content perform better on different platforms. For example, articles and videos of all lengths tend to perform best on Facebook; short, informational content, including photos and graphics, is better received on Twitter; high-quality, captivating images are better suited for Instagram, while Snapchat provides a fun, light-hearted behind-the-scenes experience for mobile users.

Bianca Brueckner: Have you ever used the Periscope App? If yes, when and how have you used it?

Whitney Dixon: Yes, I have used Periscope to provide fans an inside look at what it’s like to be a student-athlete at Michigan. From pre-game warmups, to senior night ceremonies, to off-the-field team activities, there is something unique about live video that appeals to our many audiences and allows them to be a part of the action in real-time.

Here are some examples of Periscope being used in Behind-The-Scenes looks at the University of Michigan Women’s Soccer and Lacrosse teams:

Additionally, the University of Michigan Women’s Water Polo Team has used Periscope to Live-Stream their games:

Ultimately, the addition of the Periscope App in social media provides even more of a marketing opportunity for women’s sports teams. As Whitney Dixon stated earlier, “these platforms allow us to supplement the coverage that is provided by national television networks, print and online media, and our own athletics website, MGoBlue.com.” The free and accessible live-streams from Periscope allow anyone with an Internet connection and a smartphone to tune in and interact with athletes and teams. In a world where women’s sports are significantly underrepresented in traditional sports media, Periscope helps in challenging this inequality by providing more access. Periscope’s abilities are a great way to engage and connect with audiences from across the world. As time goes on, Periscope will continue to evolve and provide a new standard for sports broadcasting. Ultimately Periscope’s impact on the sports media industry, specifically women’s sports, will alter the way we watch sports and interact with athletes & teams in the near-future.

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Blog Post 10: Are BuzzFeed and Gawker Saving, Not Killing, the News Industry?

BuzzFeed is considered one of the most influential news organizations in the world. Its popularity and success have garnered an enormous amount of attention and traffic, but is it changing the news industry for the better?

BuzzFeed’s trademark “listicles” allow people to connect with one another by sharing them on their social media sites. But is sharing the article, “20 Man Buns That Will Ruin You For Short-Haired Guys,” going to help you and your friends understand what is going on in the world? Probably not. Although BuzzFeed does have a section for news on their website, that is not where the vast majority of their traffic goes. A recent article, By the Number: 19 Amazing BuzzFeed Statistics, found that the average number of BuzzFeed monthly content views is 6 billion, but what percentage of those views are coming from BuzzFeed’s news section?

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“This majestic man bun by the lake” -BuzzFeed

Just looking at the front page of BuzzFeed’s website the listicles, “17 Baking GIFs that are so satisfying they’re borderline erotic” and “11 things we use our phones for that we probably shouldn’t (promoted by Best Buy)” pop out. There are links to a few news articles shown on the side but which article do you think the average person is more likely to click on? The entertaining listicle or an article that requires some extra critical thinking?

In the article, 58-and-a-half reasons why BuzzFeed is ruining journalism, author Daniel McKeon talks about the downfalls of BuzzFeed and it’s influence on the news industry. He states, “BuzzFeed articles are designed to be quickly read, easily understood and to require little to no critical thinking. When people see an actual news article on Facebook, they open it up, expecting to quickly and easily digest all the information. When that doesn’t happen, they either say, ‘screw it’ and move on, or worse, think they have easily digested all the information and are now an expert on the topic.”

BuzzFeed has been changing the news industry by conditioning its users to only read “quick” and “easy to understand” content. The viral listicles and posts that BuzzFeed publishes are ruining journalism by taking people’s attention away from actual issues in the real world. Other news sources have even started to imitate BuzzFeed in an attempt to gain more traffic. In doing so, this is reducing the news industry’s standards and the quality of the news that we are consuming.

In addition to BuzzFeed ruining journalism, there has been some recent controversy with Gawker, an online media company and blog. A post on Gawker from 2012 included portions of a video that showed Hulk Hogan having sex with one of his friend’s wives. After Hogan sued Gawker, he was awarded $115 million in damages. Gawker chose to publish this useless and trashy content without any concern over the invasion of privacy and in doing so there were consequences.

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Ultimately, I believe that both BuzzFeed and Gawker are killing the news industry. They are taking the focus away from real world issues and putting it towards useless and “silly” content. The majority of BuzzFeed and Gawker’s articles are designed to be read quickly and easily understood. So the questions I leave you with are, do you think this type of design has a significant effect on the people consuming their content? Do BuzzFeed and Gawker’s content prevent people from having the attention span to read more traditional news articles and learn what is going on in the real world?

 

 

 

Blog Post 9: Jay Bilas; The NCAA’s Most Dangerous Critic

Jay Bilas is a college basketball analyst for ESPN and former collegiate basketball player.  He was a four-year starter for Mike Krzyzewski on the Duke University men’s basketball team from 1982-86 and helped lead Duke to the 1986 ACC Championship and NCAA Championship game. Bilas joined ESPN in 1995 and since then has gained popularity through his extensive knowledge of men’s basketball and his prominent voice against the NCAA’s exploitation of student-athletes.

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Jay voices his complaints most significantly through his Twitter account where he has over 1.1 million followers. Here is an example of a 2013 tweet that criticized the NCAA and garnered huge attention:

In this tweet, it showed his followers that if you searched for a specific college athlete on the NCAA’s online store, for example Johnny Manziel (a quarterback at Texas A&M), you would be directed to a page selling jersey’s with that player’s number. Jay Bilas wanted to highlight how the NCAA is profiting off these college athletes without compensating them for their achievements. In response to this tweet, the NCAA shut down their store website but it sparked a significant debate over this topic and the NCAA’s exploitation of student-athletes.

Additionally, a more recent tweet from today criticizes Georgia football coach, Kirby Smart, for restricting transfers from Georgia from going to any SEC school. This again highlights that Jay Bilas is not afraid to speak his mind:

As you can see, Jay Bilas has a personal brand of speaking his mind and not being afraid of going against the “status quo” or even a huge power like the NCAA. This has allowed both him and ESPN to gain popularity in addition to traffic on TV and twitter. In the article Risks of Personal Brand Journalism, Ann Freidman explains the pros and cons of journalists having their own brands. She explains, “On one hand, news outlets can bump up their traffic significantly with a single hire. On the other, the journalist can always take that traffic with her if she jumps ship.” Jay Bilas brings a lot of traffic to ESPN with his loud opinions but he also brings a lot of traffic to competitors and other sources that he uses in his writing and his tweets. Ultimately I think that Jay Bilas is a significant contributor on ESPN and ESPN would not be as successful without his loud opinions.

In Ed Sherman’s 2014 interview with Jay Bilas, Jay talks about his views on the NCAA and what it’s like being a noteworthy figure in the pay college athletes debate. Below are some of the questions that Ed Sherman asked.

1. You’ve kind of become almost the go‑to guy, the face of the pay-for-play issue. How do you feel about that?

Bilas: “I’m a little torn about it because I’m not stupid. I realize I’d be better off if I just kept my mouth shut and I took the money that’s coming to me and I was a cheerleader for the sport, and I am a cheerleader for college basketball. College basketball is the best sport in my opinion.  But it doesn’t mean that everything is right with it, and when you love something, you say when it’s wrong.  I say what I think.  That’s what I’m paid to do.”

 

2. The conventional wisdom is that paying athletes can’t be done. The money isn’t there. Why do you think otherwise?

Bilas: “It’s a lame excuse. Sometimes I like to take things to the absurd to make a point, but it’s really funny how nobody ever says, like when they started this playoff, this College Football Playoff, nobody said, it’s just too complicated.  How are we going to figure it out?  How are we going to figure out what venue to use and how are we going to play all the vendors?  Do we pay all the vendors the same thing?  Do we pay the parking attendants the same thing that we pay the announcers?  How do we do it?  Do we pay all the teams?  How do we pay the coaches?  Do we pay the assistants the same way that ‑‑ it’s funny how they can make all these decisions according to the free market, but the athletes, boy, you can’t do that. I don’t believe, nor does any reasonable economist believe, that this entire enterprise teeters upon the athletes staying amateur.  It doesn’t.”

Below is another example of Jay Bilas voicing his opinion on whether or not college athletes are exploited:

Ultimately, Jay Bilas personal brand of speaking his mind and not being afraid to go against higher powers or prominent sports figures has made him gain a significant amount of respect and popularity in his field of work. He is one of the most well-read analysts at ESPN and will continue to garner support and attention for his criticism of those he does not agree with.

Blog Post 8: GoPro Cameras Are Revolutionizing College Sports

GoPro is America’s fastest-growing camera company. It all started in 2002 when the founder, Nick Woodman, went on a five-month surf trip around Australia and Indonesia to find inspiration for a new business. He wanted to capture photos of himself and his friends surfing in the water but no camera existed in 2002 that would allow him to do that. Cameras hadn’t been designed yet to be used during rigorous activities so Nick decided that he would be the one to break into this new market.

Here is an interactive timeline of GoPro’s Evolution by Forbes: The History of GoPro

Now, 14 years later, the GoPro has dominated the action-camera market by displacing camcorders and other video equipment. Consumers are no longer spending their money on pocket cameras because they already have that in the form of their smartphone. But, consumers will use their disposable income for something like a GoPro that is highly differentiated from their smartphone. CEO Nick Woodman explains, “GoPro’s opportunity is to help people capture meaningful life experiences in an engaging immersive way that they can’t with a smartphone.” GoPro will never replace a smartphone for quick capture moments, but it’s imax-like huge wide-angle lens allows the viewer to immerse themselves in the video and relive their experience.

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GoPro has significantly transformed the world of sports. It’s small, lightweight frame allows it to be worn or placed almost anywhere. College athletes can harness GoPros to their helmets, chests and other parts of their bodies. Additionally GoPro camera’s can also be placed on backboards at basketball games, goals at hockey, lacrosse and soccer games, and placed on other equipment that will best capture a scoring moment.

Here is an example of a GoPro being used in Women’s College Soccer to give fans a look through the goalkeepers eyes:

Also in relation to sports reporting, the article, The Camera Every Good Journalist Needs, explains, “Its wide lens and HD video capabilities makes it the perfect auxiliary camera for perspective shots in large crowds or at major events. It’s size and ability to be mounted anywhere makes its a great tool for shots while driving. And when it comes to sports, you can’t beat throwing a GoPro behind a backboard to capture the thundering slam-dunk of a basketball player.”

GoPro’s allow journalists to record and capture amazing sport moments in the point of view of the athlete. GoPro’s are revolutionizing journalism by adding a visual hook to a journalist’s story and allowing fans to view the experience in way that can’t be done through a smartphone or regular recording device.

Here is a GoPro video of Allison Stokke, showing the world what it’s like from a pole vaulter’s perspective:

Ultimately, GoPro cameras give fans an opportunity to see sports and their favorite game from a different perspective. It’s high definition and ability to be used during rigorous activity allow it to go where most smartphones can’t.

In the future, GoPro has revealed that it’s camera-equipped drone, Karma, is going to be released in 2016. Along with this, GoPro will continue to evolve it’s Hero line of cameras and improve their performance for athletes, journalists and other consumers around the world.

 

Blog Post 7: Photo Story

On March 13, the Michigan Women’s Lacrosse team took on the High Point University Panthers in High Point, North Carolina. After a hard fought game, High Point University came out on top winning 11-6. Below is a behind-the-scenes look at the pregame and post-game routine.

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The Michigan lacrosse team listens to music on the bus ride to the field.
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Michigan lacrosse players head to the locker room to get ready for the game.
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Michigan lacrosse players listen to music and dance to get pumped up for the game.
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A Michigan lacrosse player ties her cleats.
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The field where the Michigan Wolverines take on the High Point University Panthers.
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After a tough loss, the Michigan lacrosse team waits in line to check their bags at the airport.
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Michigan lacrosse players do homework while waiting for their plane to board at the airport.
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The Michigan Women’s lacrosse team arrives back home in Michigan.

Blog Post 6: ACL Injuries Data Visualization

I thought it might be interesting to find a data visualization project on injuries and how they differ across sports and gender. I was browsing the web when I came upon an article titled:  Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injuries: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention from the American Academy of Pediatrics. It focused on ACL injuries which are very common in the world of collegiate athletics.

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As shown above, the ACL is one of four major ligaments that stabilize the knee joint. The National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System compiled data from a sample of colleges and universities over 16 years. In the graph below, Men’s college football and women’s college gymnastics had the highest ACL injury rates.

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They also looked at high school athletes who had lower rates of ACL injuries than collegiate athletes.

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Shown below are also the gender differences in ACL injury based on age.

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As shown above, female athletes between the ages of 15-20 have the highest risk for ACL injuries. In college athletics, ACL injury rates are 2.4 to 4.1 times higher for women.The gender differences between ACL injury for men and women are the greatest in high school and college.

Overall I think that this data visualization project was very effective. Although there was a lot of data, the authors did a great job of making it interesting and easy to understand. They used diagrams and graphs to present the data they found on ACL injuries in men and women. This is different than traditional journalism because rather than just stating that men’s college football and women’s college gymnastics have the highest ACL injury rates, they showed a visual explanation of it. In the Niemanlab reading, David Leonhard (head of the New York Times The Upshot) was asked how to explain this new movement of data visualization. He answered, “One big reason, is the explosion of easily available data. Another: the more conversationalist tone of the Internet. You can take more complicated events and explain them in a conversational way.” I think that this is a great movement that will continue to gain popularity and spread across different media outlets. It allows readers to learn about different things in a ‘conversationalist tone’ which makes it a lot more interesting. Overall I think that data visualization projects are a great way to learn about new information and journalists should really look into using a project when talking about information that is more difficult for the average reader to understand.