Oh, hey there. Happy Monday. Here’s hoping the weekend treated you well. If you’re not a part of those who were to have hosted the Hall of Fame Game on Sunday evening, it shouldn’t have been too, too bad. Honestly, the only folks who may have had a worse week than those in Canton are the Cargo Shorts crowd who have now been skewered by the Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Mashable, and others. You see, it’s easy to shrug off fashion advice from glossy mags like GQ and Esquire as being some pretentious trend-following, but once the laypeople are piling on, it’s no longer everyone else.
Actually—check that. You know who may have it worse than either of those two groups? Those in Canton who still wear cargo shorts. If you know any of these people, give them a hug. And then steal their shorts.
Given Friday’s Opening Ceremonies, we’ve entered the biennial discussion over The Olympics and how important they are among those who consume sports on a daily basis. Basketball fans tend to care about Team USA (especially when you have outright dragon slayers like Kyrie Irving running point). Hardcore fans of sport—the narrative arcs, the back stories, watching the world’s elite compete in anything—will watch. After this, however, you start to find that the regionally-aligned sports fans (i.e. cheers for the Indians, but doesn’t watch much non-Indians baseball; goes to Browns games, but won’t watch Chargers-Raiders; only watches hoops for LeBron) tend to zone out a bit when it comes to the Olympic Games.
As someone who tends to fall somewhere in the middle of the Basketball-World’s Elite overlap in this back-of-the-napkin Venn diagram, I enjoy the Olympics. I’ve spent the last few nights watching some of the competition on my iPad, the NBCSports app providing a live look-in on any events as they transpire. Saturday night was some beach volleyball wherein Kerry Walsh and April Ross waxed a duo from Australia. Sunday night was some swimming, regretfully having missed the gymnastics portion where Simone Biles dominated every event she touched, but Katie Ladecky absolutely crushed. But if it were not for technology and the ability to watch these events in full, circumventing much of the televised coverage, I’m not sure how much I would watch. I have little desire to watch heads discuss anything (though it is admittedly weird to see Mike Tirico on NBC), and even less desire to watch an event that has already occurred and the results of which have already been widely disseminated.
The Olympics being aired on delay is not new, but as the world becomes flatter and information becomes quicker, it’s slowly becoming more and more puzzling for anyone outside of those benefiting from prime time ad checks. Friday’s Opening Ceremonies were delayed by an hour for those of us on Eastern Time Zone viewing. For those on the West Coast, it was delayed four hours. Yes—those in Califorina (who didn’t have something better to do on a Friday night) watched various participants walk out of a tunnel four hours after it actually happened in Rio. But just as the almighty dollar is steering the ship (ironically for a group of individuals who aren’t being directly compensated for their work), the reasoning behind this may be even more surprising: Women.
Here’s NBC via Jezebel:
Doesn’t broadcasting sporting events on a delay somewhat defeat the purpose? After all, social media will be awash with spoilers the instant the winning landing is stuck. Luckily, according to NBC Olympics Chief Marketing Officer John Miller, women are the Olympics’ target audience, and we don’t care about results! From the New York Daily News:
“The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the Games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey.”
“It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and mini-series wrapped into one. And to tell the truth, it has been the complaint of a few sports writers. It has not been the complaint of the vast viewing public.”
In case you missed that, here is a short (but very complete) list of things that women like, according to NBC.
1. Reality shows
3. The Journey
4. Not sports
Too bad the joke is on Miller, since even womenfolk are losing interest in the event: A Gallup poll shows that in 2012, 63 percent of women expressed a “great deal” or “fair amount” of interest in watching the London Games. This year, only 47 percent said the same about Rio.
A handful of interesting points here include the demographic targeting coupled with the complete miscalculation of said target, but the common denominator is the business side attempting to circumvent the editorial side. Sure, The Olympics are about pageantry and story lines (Biles’ story is especially extraordinary), and if it weren’t for these backdrops—Michael Phelps’ diet! Hope Solo’s RBF!—there would be considerably less to talk about given that most events occur in matters of minutes if not seconds. The one thing that NBC and the rest will have to consider, however, is that it’s two thousand and freaking sixteen. We want things real time. We’re on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and the like, and we follow media members who are covering the events live and are reporting on them as they occur. Think Adrian Wojnarowski on NBA Draft night, but on steroids.
As The Peacock found out the hard way, viewers want to see things live. Opening Ceremonies viewing was horrific (the lowest since 1980!) as streaming services devoured market share. Unfortunately, it appears that network heads and decision makers will have to find out the hard way.
Last week in this space, we touched on Instagram effectively stealing Snapchat’s “stories” feature and slapping it on their own application without so much as changing the name, doing so in a manner that I felt was exponentially better of a launch than anything the wildly popular Snap has been able to do. As I’ve absorbed thoughts on both sides of the coin—IG, for example, does not have the widely used lenses or geotags…yet—this piece from The Verge laid things out in a way that this writer could not.
Compared with Snapchat, Instagram is more intuitive for first-time users, and so is its stories feature. Granted, a superior visual aesthetic and more user-friendly navigation doesn’t automatically translate to more sharing. Snapchat has proven that you can hand a teen a gnarled mess of features and they’ll figure out how to master them, so long as their friends are on the network. But if Snapchat wants to keep growing, it faces a new obstacle: a bigger competitor, with a more inviting interface, has cloned its chief innovation. And that gives people around the world, particularly in foreign markets where Instagram is better established, one less reason to ever try Snapchat.
By now it’s a cliché that Snapchat is hard to learn, particularly for anyone old enough to have graduated college. That has been easy to ignore as the company added users at a rapid clip, drawn by its novel feed of ephemeral broadcasts. If parents can’t figure it out — well, so much the better for their children, who have an enjoyed having a social network mostly to themselves. But increasingly Snapchat’s insular view of design looks like a risk to its future growth.
My biggest gripe surrounding Snap has been the lack of engagement and social in the social media platform. You can see how many folks view your images or videos, but you can’t tell what “works” versus what doesn’t. Every other successful (sustained success, by the way; not MySpace) social media venture has figured out a way to incorporate analytics—likes, shares, retweets—into their platform.
Focusing on younger generations (or, shudder, millennials) makes sense given the size and scope of such a demographic, but if we’ve learned anything about those born since 1980, it’s that a significant portion of them are very fickle in their habits. Instagram is connected to Facebook and continues to evolve. If Snapchat doesn’t do the same, now with other similar options at the ready, it’s not always who does something first as much as it is who does it better.
So… About that Frank Ocean album. Those of you who caught my While We’re Waiting… from last week will have noticed the quick mention of the Odd Future crooner finally having a new album which was set to release on Friday, exclusively over at Apple Music. I say “was” as music fans across the world were patiently waiting on Thursday night for that clock to turn to 12 p.m. EST, only to be handed the largest Crying Jordan in recent memory. Then Friday morning…afternoon…evening—nothing.
This, of course, spawned a ton of web-based angst where fans demanded to know what was going on. Much of this angst is fueled by Ocean himself, who has set many deadlines for his follow up to the insanely good Channel Orange only to blow through them without so much as a “my bad.” This vortex is chronicled pretty well over at The Ringer. It’s also leading to stories that are starting to wonder if Ocean’s artistry is getting the best of him. Where Kanye West released an unfinished album, only to tweak the streaming version in real time, it appears that Frank the Tank is too caught up in the details that he’s being compared to Harper Lee.
I was in a theatre when Kanye first played The Life of Pablo in front of Madison Square Garden, and I followed along on Twitter as those around me—physically and digitally—were pleasantly shocked to see Ocean among the dozen or so along West’s side. When someone doesn’t talk to the media and effectively hasn’t shown up for work in years, to see them in the flesh is understandably a surprise.
There’s no way to know if Boys Don’t Cry will ever see the light of day, but there is no denying that the hype surrounding it (thus, the bar by which it will be judged) continues its ascent with every blown deadline and obscure Periscope-like feed of him trading in woodwork. Sure—if BDC never sees the light of day, we’ll be forced to just use Channel Orange as the giant “what if?” If there’s any silver lining, there aren’t many albums from 2012 that still hold up as well as that one. But this doesn’t mean we can’t yearn for more.
“The Bennett Brothers versus Everyone” by Mina Kimes (ESPN The Magazine): “Michael and Martellus Bennett tend to perplex people. This becomes clear when we stop for lunch at a West Hollywood café, the kind of crunchy, actressy place that serves food on wooden boards. The brothers split up as soon as they walk in. Michael circles a display of expensive sweets (‘I don’t eat American chocolate,’ he sniffs), and Martellus hovers near the entrance, offering health and safety advice to customers as they leave the restaurant. ‘Wrap it up,’ he counsels a man walking out the door. The guy stares at him, trying to deduce why a stranger is telling him to wear a condom.”1
“Dan Shaughnessy Roots for Himself” by Brian Curtis (The Ringer): “Shaughnessy’s defenders see his style as a necessary corrective to two things. It’s often said that Shaughnessy feasted on Boston’s misery. It’s rarely said that other writers exploited Boston’s overexuberance in its age of champions.”2
“The Great Favre Gamble” by Rob Demovsky (ESPN.com): “As the franchise languished in more than two decades of futility, a cautious doctor and a wary executive committee expressed skepticism about then-GM Ron Wolf’s decision to trade a first-round pick for a quarterback with health and character concerns. Yet somehow, on Feb. 11, 1992, in one of his first moves as Packers GM, Wolf struck a deal with the Atlanta Falcons to get his quarterback.”3
“Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt intertwined as pillars of modern Olympic greatness” by Tim Layden (Sports Illustrated): “They became forever connected eight years ago in China, a swimmer from Baltimore and a sprinter from Jamaica; both around six feet, four inches tall, one white and the other black; one made uncomfortable by fame and the other made whole by it. Of one, greatness was demanded back then; for the other, it fell from the heavens and landed at his feet.”4
A topic you all know I view with much in the way of passion, John Oliver nails today’s entitlement to news and, more specifically, journalism.
Have a great Monday, you guys. If you need me, I’ll be golfing.