ESPN and NFL Network both have rights to televise the NFL draft, and, as they have in the past, this year they will show the good and just Roger Goodell that they value the product he’s bestowed upon them by not allowing their reporters to tweet picks before the commissioner announces them at the podium. That NFL Network agrees to this makes sense. (It has no choice, since it’s a glorified PR channel for the league.) What’s ESPN’s excuse?
“We want to keep the suspense of the draft,” said ESPN senior coordinating producer Seth Markman, ESPN’s lead executive for the event. “This is purely listening to the viewers and what they want. It was overwhelming that our consumers, our viewers, our fans do not want us to spoil the draft experience. I know some of our competitors will tweet picks, but they are not telecasting the draft. I am sure there is a segment of the population that wants it as soon as possible, but our responsibility is to our viewers. It’s not some big journalism discussion in my mind. It’s ‘I don’t like angering our viewers’.”
Just like ESPN viewers who rage about how their draft-viewing experience was spoiled when they went online and found news reporters reporting news, this is stupid. The network understandably wants to maximize the amount of eyeballs watching its expensive show, but gagging its own reporters on one platform to get maybe one more minute of fake suspense on another is silly.
Jason La Canfora, Jay Glazer, and other reporters not employed by ESPN or NFL Network can—and will—tweet out picks if they accurately learn the names before Goodell announces them. The stakes are, in practice, very, very low, but ESPN declining to report news in deference to a corporate partner is very, very telling.
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