Sports is best when the stakes are high and Twitter thrives as fans move to the edge of their seats so why can't TV join in?

Sean & Francis discussed why Twitter's growth has been linked with the success sports teams are having using Twitter.

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Take a look at the evidence

Thanks to Twitter's Laura King who presented at SEAT Conference we can see the top 8 Twitter moments, 6 are sport 2 from music and ALL were live on TV.

Until next week

Catch it live on Saturday mornings (at 7:40am) when Sean Callanan discuss sports digital with Francis Leach on ABC Grandstand. Tune into ABC Grandstand Breakfast Friday through Monday on ABC Grandstand digital radio.

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Podcast transcription

Francis: Sean Callanan is the man when it comes to all things Digital Sports and he’s with us again from Sports Geek HQ. Good day Sean, how are you?

Sean: I’m good thanks, Francis.

Francis: Good to have you back in mate. Twitter and sport have become synonymous with each other, it’s fascinating to watch at the moment to see the big media companies trying to engage Twitter and use it, say on television in their broadcasts. And some of them are better at it than others but the sports broadcasters seem to be struggling with it here in Australia.

Sean: Well that’s the thing, one of the phrases I always use when I’m doing a presentation is ‘Twitter is where life happens’ and that’s where sport’s at it’s best as well, we’ve seen the AFL go to live TV, no delays and everyone loving it. Whether it affects attendance and things like that may be something that has to be decided, but it’s definitely given Twitter a massive boost. Because people can talk about the game and be having that, I like to see it as the second special comments guy. You’ve got your two guys in the box corner at the game, but Twitter provides a different point of view whether it’s tactical, humorous or observational, it’s providing that. So it’s something that at the moment TV networks over here, and even in a lesser extent in the States and the UK, are still trying to figure out how to best integrate Twitter. They're in to getting that whole sports TV, we keep hearing the ‘Second screen experience’ is to get that ‘I play by the fans’ into the interaction that they’re doing on Twitter anyway.

Francis: Radio’s always had it because radio has talk back and it’s one of the great dynamics of the radio experience and why it probably lasts, it’s not unilateral it’s not just the one platform delivery, you have a conversation with your audience. Television’s never really been comfortable with that and this is a big challenge for them.

Sean: Yeah, one of Twitter’s main slogans is ‘Join the conversation’ and what we’re seeing at the moment is, we might have an AFL game or an NFL game or a cricket match happening and people are using the hash tags. Whether they are the game day hash tags or the club hash tags, but there’s a conversation happening at this place. And then what we’re seeing is the TV networks trying to do is ‘Use our hash tag and we’ll have a conversation around this’

Francis: They’re trying to own the conversation?

Sean: They’re trying to own the conversation, they’re trying to effectively in competition to the leagues and the teams running the event.

Francis: So is that like Fango?

Sean: It is a little bit, that walled garden approach of ‘Hey come in to our little digital world and talk in our space.’

Francis: Which is counter-intuitive to what Twitter is about, which is an open conversation and an opportunity to meet like-minded people that you would never encounter.

Sean: Exactly and there is a few of those apps popping up that are like ‘Oh it’s a sports version of Twitter’, no Twitter is the sports version of Twitter, you don’t need to replicate that. So what we need to do from a networks point of view is to get the networks to realise that that’s where the conversation’s happening, and if they do want to do that social curation and post up the best Tweets on their network, then that will actually help them be part of the conversation and drive traffic. So if Dave Warner is winding up and opening up the shoulders, and everyone who has been trained to be Tweeting this specific hash tag and know that it’s on Channel 9, will flick the channel and start watching it, so it’s a really big channel changer.

Francis: It really is and we say that Olympic Games on a couple of occasions, didn’t we, where people decided to tune in for specific moments at the Games because it just lit up on Twitter.

Sean: Yeah, exactly, it’s just a matter of going ‘Hang on, I better change the channel to watch that’.

Francis: I remember it specifically happening during that hour when Great Britain won three gold medals at the track in the space of sixty minutes, and Twitter just went bananas, ‘You’ve got to watch this’ and Wayne Farrell was the last one to win. By the time Farrell had ran his race, the whole world had bee alerted to it on Twitter as much has anything else. The Twitterverse was on it and it was just a critical mass.

Sean: Yeah and it was pretty much a watershed moment for Twitter in the UK, for everyone it was like the light bulb went off and ‘Ah, that’s what Twitter’s for’. And to give a bit of integration thing, we’ve talked about how in the US the Olympics was delayed, but the way Twitter helped NBC from an integration point of view was if you searched for the Olympics on Twitter in the US, you actually ended up on a branded NBC Olympics Twitter page. Which again did absolute wonders for the NBC Olympics, it put NBC’s Twitter properties in the front of fans looking for information on the Olympics. It also pushed up the athletes and gave them a lot more lift and drove traffic back both to the digital properties but also back to the website. So what Twitter’s trying to do at the moment – and using sports as one of their key planks – is helping people understand what Twitter is. It’s not log on and tell people what you had for lunch. What we see Twitter as is it’s replacing the new idea and the newspapers of a time where you might follow Warnie and Liz Hurley for your gossip columns and you’ll follow your sports team, some of the athletes and celebrities and some of the news breakers and automatically you’ve got a little bit of ‘This is my flavour of life’ and I might be into sports, wine, technology, whatever it is and you can get that feed.
Then what happens is, when you’re in the live moment, you start seeing people who are talking about the stuff you want to talk about and you can actually have that backwards and forwards with people. And that’s when, for me, that’s when Twitter goes off when people start going ‘I can have this, it doesn’t have to be conversations right there and then’, you can have a long form conversation every couple of days with someone and keep up with what they’re doing.

Francis: Sports Geek HQ is the company Sean Callanan runs, he’s here with us again on Grandstand Breakfast again and we’re talking about Twitter and sport. And there are some events that lend themselves a bit better to it, I guess the Tour de France is one because it’s a long form event and you can have a conversation over an extended period of time. I’m finding with the Major League baseball playoffs it’s perfect for that as well. Say some of the field games like Australian football and other games that are really quick, is it more difficult because the dynamic changes every five, ten seconds?

Sean: Yeah it is, that one is a tough one for the broadcasters. Even with the baseball you can tweet ‘That was an awesome shot’ or ‘That was a great mark’ or whatever, and then by the time broadcasting get it that even has happened and past. So that does make it tough to get live Tweets to stream, it’s not like Q&A where you’re putting on your commentary of how it’s going. But when you’ve got a longer form game, like baseball or cricket, someone will say ‘Ricky’s looking menacing here, he could get a big score’ and that’s a Tweet that a producer could go ‘That’s a great one, we can put that up, hopefully it doesn’t get out straight after’

Francis: [Laughs] That’s the Twitter jinx, that’s going to happen soon.

Sean: It’s going to happen, ‘Oh my goodness you put that Tweet up and then he went out’, I’m sure there’ll be some one, Michael Clark will storm the dressing room ‘No more Tweets about me’

Francis: ‘You hash tagged me’

Sean: Yeah exactly, so that’ll most likely happen down the track but it will be good for the engagement.

Francis: It’s going to be fascinating watching it develop. How can people find you online?

Sean: ‘@SeanCallanan’ or ‘@SportsGeek’ or at