I tuned in last night to watch the first episode of Essendon FC’s ‘Bomber TV’ and to be honest; I was rather impressed with the level of professionalism in the production. I’ll admit that I’m a Bombers fan but I promise this purely an objective observation and I haven’t let my opinion be jaded by my support of the club.
Apparently, the show opened up slightly later than was expected and as always with a new production like this, there were going to be some issues in getting it up and going. Essendon received some harsh critique from the fans on Facebook but in the end, the show went live and was received well by the clubs Facebook fans.
The show opened with Fox Sports reporter Sarah Jones. It was refreshing to see 1. A female host in a football program, and 2. A certain level of professionalism behind her hosting duties. Many of the other AFL clubs have relied on their players or marketing staff to host interviews, programs and production duties and while this might provide an insight in to players outside of the playing field, sometimes it questionable whether the players can get the desired result from an interview that a trained professional might be able to achieve. This was evident during the program when they crossed to Andrew Welsh for an interview with Kyle Reimers. While some of the interview might have been entertaining and humorous, it failed to provide in depth thoughts on how he was feeling ahead of his milestone 50th game.
A noticeable difference to other AFL clubs programs is that it was filmed in a Fox Sports studio themed in the Essendon colours. This made the viewer feel like they were watching a live ‘Fox Sports’ program and added to the expertise provided from the host.
The guests for this week’s show were Mark McVeigh and assistant coach Brendan McCartney . The club successfully integrated other forms of social media by allowing fans to tweet in questions to ask the guests by using the hashtag #TheBomberShow. They also included a ‘Tweet of the Week’ that was rewarded to the fan that asked the best question. It’s a common theme that we’re seeing in TV programs these days, allowing the viewers to dictate the questions that are asked and giving them a sense of control of what content is produced. Another section that was integrated with Social Media was the ‘plays of the week’ decided by a poll on Facebook. Fans submitted their vote for 3 options and someone who voted for the week’s winner won a prize. There were only 903 votes submitted, which considering the club is approaching 135,000 Facebook fans and they received over 13,000 ‘likes’ of one comment on their recent win against Geelong; it’s probably a poor result. It might attract some more attention from the fans now that it has been featured on Bomber TV, but maybe there needs to be some integration in to other media channels to create a larger response.
A major factor that the program has over other content produced in the mainstream media is ‘exclusivity’. They gave a live report from James Hird who went over the team for this weekend’s round, they also gave an exclusive interview with recent retiree Mark Williams, chatted to Matthew Lloyd about his controversial book (which isn’t an exclusive in itself, considering Lloyd has a large media presence already) but it was good to see they linked it back to the team by asking McVeigh on his thoughts on the matter. The last section was an address from President David Evans who welcomed fans to the show and although some AFL club Presidents are renowned for being a common feature in the mainstream media, Evans is one that tends to shy away from too much attention. The sole address from him gave fans a positive reaction to the person who is leading their club without the scrutiny from journalists in a probing interview.
Another factor I found interesting was the inclusion of advertisements during the program. Twice they took a break to showcase their major sponsors True Value Solar & Samsung. I’m aware that there is constantly pressure from the commercial/sponsorship team to integrate partners in to all products, but this didn’t sit well for me. From my opinion, I watch TV online so I don’t have to sit through the ads. Sure, I could use the progress bar to scroll across and skip the ads, but the issue is whether I should need to do this in the first place. Scrolling through the comments from the fans no one commented too much on the advertisements so maybe it’s just me, I’d be interested to see what the fans reaction would be if they were asked for their opinion on it?
All in all though, the show went really well and looks like it will be a weekly addition to the ever expanding digital team down at Windy Hill. I’m not sure whether it will feature throughout the off season and with only 5 weeks to go in the home and away season, I hope the program takes some leaps and bounds in this short period.
You can catch the show on YouTube on Essendon’s YouTube channel.
Did anyone else watch the show?
If so, let me know your thoughts or comments on it and how other clubs could use the example set by Essendon FC in to their digital marketing.