Where’s the NCAA Red Zone?

Posted on March 16, 2011

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It’s hard to believe CBS didn’t create a channel like the NFL Red Zone for March Madness. For anyone not familiar with NFL Red Zone, on Sundays when multiple football games are in progress, this channel jumps back and forth between games showing the action at any place a team is likely to score soon. 

Now I’m not complaining, I got that out of my system yesterday, I’m just surprised the idea didn’t make its way to the NCAA tourney. Again, what better use could you imagine for the CBS College Sports Network during the duration of the tournament than cutting back and forth between games that are coming down to the wire?

When they had only one channel to put content on CBS would do “live look ins” checking in on games that were looking like they would have interesting finishes, but they almost never cut away completely from a game because the broadcast coverage was split regionally, so cutting away from a game, even one that isn’t close, would have left a team’s hometown fans without a way to see their team.  

Now, with the Turner Networks, Tru TV and all of the other resources available to CBS it seems surprising there isn’t some sort of faster-paced highlights only channel available. It’s doubly surprising if you consider this New York Times article about how people are consuming sports broadcasts. Apparently the NFL Red Zone is just the tip of the iceberg.

For example, there’s Pre Play Sports which developed a game for mobile phones where viewers win points for predicting  the outcome of certain plays. Fans who used the app only had one complaint; it wasn’t detailed enough. According to company founder  Andrew Daines users wanted the ability to predict everything: the length of kick-offs, coaches challenges, even the coin toss.

Then there’s new software from a company called Thunz which continually analyzes data points such as game statistics, pace, score and more. The system uses the information to rank games on a scale of 1 to 100 while they are being played. Users can select a minimum level of excitement and when a game hits that level the program sends out an alert. Fans will never again miss a great comeback or last second game winning play if Thunz can help it.  

Of course, this phenomenon isn’t limited to sports. ABC went above and beyond in providing alternative coverage of their Oscar broadcast including tweets and pictures from co-host James Franco and a $4.99 Oscar All Access online offering. Beyond that, Mashable.com reports over one million Facebook status updates mentioned the award show within 24 hours of the broadcast. And while there is some debate about the number of tweets sent during the show it was at least 400,000 but some estimates are as high as 1.2 million.

The moral of this story is that for better or worse, consumers are becoming accustomed to a richer content experience they can be involved in. Or to use a sports analogy, they aren’t content to just sit on the sidelines.

Radio is not immune to this trend. 

It’s becoming imperative that you implement new ways to communicate with and involve the listeners. Social media platforms provide a myriad of ways to pull back the curtain and let your biggest fans in on what happens behind the scenes. It’s easy to share extra show prep content, give away small prizes, post text polls and more. 

Be creative. Try new things. Grab the listener’s attention. If you don’t someone else will.

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