As the MLB All-Star game inches closer, the league has just announced that they will be incorporating more social media into different parts of the game than ever before. The “@StateFarm #HRDerby and #ASG,” as it’s called, will feature computer stations at each clubhouse for both teams to interact on social when they’re not actually playing in the game. We spoke with Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President of Business for Major League Baseball.
Last year’s Home Run Derby leveraged social on a deep level with similar computer stations (above), and now they’re taking it one step further by extending it into the actual game. This brings to light how important something like the All Star game is to fans and how the league recognizes that it should make it easy for players to the fans one-on-one in real-time. They’re also creatively using this opportunity to drive followers to State Farm, the Home Run Derby sponsor. Additionally MLB says that “ESPN and FOX will both heavily incorporate social media into their respective television broadcasts of both events, creating a fully integrated social TV experience for fans.”
Lost Remote: How will social be used during the All Star game? How is this a first?
Tim Brosnan: Social media is playing a larger role in everything we do at Major League Baseball, and the All-Star Game is no exception. At last year’s State Farm Home Run Derby we allowed players to tweet during the competition and it was enormously successful and well-received. Players who tweeted during the event saw on average a 17% spike in their Twitter following just in the hours immediately surrounding the event, and the event generated what was at the time the 7th-highest tweets per second mark in Twitter history. Never before could fans actually interact with players while watching them perform on television, making it the first truly social TV event in baseball history.
So our goal this year is to take that to the next level and expand on it. With the support of the MLB Players Association and MLB Advanced Media, we’ve arrived at what we think is a great plan. For the first time in history, players – once they have been removed from the game or are unable to play due to injury – will be able to interact with fans via social media while the All-Star Game is still in progress. We’ll have a room set up alongside the clubhouses with computer stations set up with staff to assist, and it will be built into the schedule of existing media responsibilities for the players. We think this is a great way to continue our effort to bring fans closer to the game and our players, allow the players to engage with fans in a meaningful way, and bring more attention to the event while not distracting the players while they are competing.
LR: How will this make the broadcast more social?
Brosnan: The 2012 State Farm Home Run Derby (Monday, July 9 at 8pm ET on ESPN) and the 2012 MLB All-Star Game (Tuesday, July 10 at 7:30pm ET on FOX) will be the biggest social TV events in baseball history. The appetite among our fans for this level of access is at an all-time high, the cooperation and interest among the players is unprecedented, as is the level of integration with our broadcast partners FOX and ESPN (more details to come on that soon). Baseball’s All-Star Game is the most meaningful and competitive of all the major sports, with home field advantage at the World Series for the winning league at stake. The players care, as evidenced by the new promotional campaign we also unveiled this week (link), and the fans feed off that energy. Everyone talks about the importance of the second screen during live events, and our charge is to take the enthusiasm of our players and our fans and translate it to the second screen. For us, the second screen experience isn’t just something we hope will happen, it’s something for which we’re strategically programming content.