For sports fans, the second screen isn’t just an enrichment of the TV-watching experience. It has become an integral part of it.
Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals generated 6.31 million social media comments, the third-highest total of the year, a number that in some sense confirms what other statistics have been demonstrating for a while; 83% of sports fans, for example, will check social media platforms while watching a game on television. With that level of participation and engagement, such a high volume of posts isn’t much of a surprise. What is surprising, however, is the breadth of conversations that appear to be taking place.
The best indication of this variety can be found in this infographic’s sentiment analysis. According to Bluefin’s data, most of the conversations taking place around Game Five were sentiment-neutral. Granted, sentiment analysis has a ways to go before it can be considered wholly reliable, as social media listening tools still have trouble parsing double meanings, detecting irony or sarcasm, etc.
But the vasty majority of the narratives that surround sporting events tend to have very clearly defined moral parameters, with big clear expanses of black and white: “Is Lebron going to be clutch tonight, or will he choke in the fourth quarter?” ; “Is Russell Westbrook helping the Thunder, or hurting them?” ; “Are the Miami Heat redeemed, or not?” As such, it’s almost shocking that more posts didn’t show more feelings.
There is plenty that one could take away from that big, grey middle ground, but there’s one thing that is unmistakably positive: social media is now integral to the sports-watching experience, and there will be plenty for franchises, athletes, and sports brands to talk about.