Can you believe 2019 is almost over? Though it sure feels like it’s flown by, we witnessed so many amazing stories along the way that shouldn’t go unnoticed. In fact, it’s for that reason that we started our #Storyteller series; to make these stories heard, and to help you create your own. In that spirit, we thought what better way to bring in the new year than to share a story about some of our favorite storytellers from 2019. Let’s dive into it month by month!
Starting way back in January, the College Football Playoff (CFP) National Championship exemplified a transition in how we can use social content at live sporting events, or any event for that matter. Aside from your standard fan photo wall, the CFP team searched for specific content that added context to each moment and capturing the true storyline of the National Championship.
In real-time, they brought in reactions from the likes of Cris Carter, JJ Watt, Jerry Rice, and many more who commented directly on the game action praising the wide receiver play or simply summing up what we were all thinking in the stadium: “This game is wild!”. During the trophy ceremony, Clemson players and coaches not only received applause from the crowd, but they were showered in congratulatory tweets from around the nation live on the stadium screen.
Hollywood award shows traditionally focus on the step-and-repeat of the red carpet, but social media has given super fans a sneak peek at the moments we don’t usually get to see. E! Entertainment wove this content into their coverage using everything from Instagram Stories of celebrities getting ready, to posts about how nominees are settling their nerves.
At the 2019 Academy Awards, Ryan Seacrest asked Melissa McCarthy about a post he saw on Instagram in which McCarthy’s co-star Richard E. Grant was making breakfast for her. It wasn’t your typical red carpet question and drew a nice response from McCarthy. These types of moments transcend broadcast going beyond what we usually see on TV and ultimately add a new, interactive layer to the story.
Few events drive the amount of social chatter that March Madness does. It’s what makes the tournament one of the most entertaining to watch, and also to produce. Working alongside both the in-venue and broadcast production teams, we had a courtside seat to the top content highlights throughout each round from buzzer beater reactions to Charles Barkley meltdowns.
Throughout the tournament, the innovative producers at Turner Sports utilized various digital properties, including Facebook & Twitter Live, YouTube, NCAA.com and the March Madness Live App, to host socially-driven shows complementary to the linear broadcast creating an immersive second-screen experience.
Most notably, the Final Four Twitter Live show, presented by Wendy’s, took a unique approach that combined celebrity and athlete talent in a live reactionary show alongside the traditional broadcast. This alternate, light-hearted stream gave fans a central place to have a conversation around the game. It also gave the production team more flexibility to leverage the personalities of their on-air talent along with those tuning in at home and build a truly interactive story.
Just as the buzzer rang to conclude March Madness, preparations for the NFL Draft and Latin Billboards coverage ramped up. Though in very different industries and markets, both NFL Network and Telemundo used similar strategies in their broadcast turning to social for behind the scenes access that bolstered the overall story.
You see the NFL Draft on TV, but here’s what you don’t see: players are usually taken through a string of interviews in the moments after they’re drafted. In the industry it’s called a car wash. But the NFL Network created a unique experience for first overall draft pick, Kyler Murray. As soon as he stepped off the stage, they showed him a mosaic of real-time social content including messages from his former and future teammates. It was an organic moment where we as the viewers got to see an incredibly real reaction from this athlete on likely one of the biggest days of his life.
With so much going on behind the scenes at the Latin Billboard Music Awards that the audience doesn’t typically see, Telemundo looked to social to capture the essence of those entertaining moments. Coming in and out of commercial breaks, the Telemundo producers showcased real-time reactions backstage and teased upcoming performances through the lens of Twitter and Instagram.
From the music studio to the kitchen, the award shows continued, and the conversation around the 2019 James Beard Awards was cooking all night. The show hosts made use of that conversation showcasing congratulatory tweets after each award allowing the crowd to go beyond just their applause. Though the awards filled the main course of the night, the social chatter made up the sauce that tied the whole story together (last terrible food pun, I swear!).
Perhaps one of the best examples ever of comprehensive, cross-channel storytelling came this year from FOX Sports during their coverage of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. From pre/post-game and late night wrap up shows in linear broadcast, to their daily Women’s World Cup NOW show streaming on Twitter, the FOX Sports coverage resulted in one singular story across all platforms that felt like a non-stop supply of content.
The reactionary content shown from celebrity fans like Oprah, to the fan next door alike made for some incredible moments live on air. What really stood out to us though, was how they involved their audience before and after live shows. Whether it was crowd-sourced questions for an interview with Alex Morgan, excitement GIFs during the livestream countdown, or a digital #JuggleChallenge contest, FOX Sports told the story of this year’s Women’s World Cup with their viewers, not at them.
Just as the stories told throughout the Women’s World Cup garnered a sense of national community pride, so too did the Essence Festival within the African-American community. An annual tradition since 1994, Essence Festival draws nearly 500,000 people every year and focuses on the celebration and empowerment of this culturally rich community.
Within the festival itself, the Essence team did a terrific job of promoting and centralizing the conversation around the event across every digital screen. By doing so, they amplified the core message of the festival well beyond the event itself through social media, and it was a powerful story to tell.
There is audience engagement, and then there is what Chasing the Cure pulled off this summer. Airing on TNT/TBS, Ann Curry hosted a weekly show that leveraged viewer input to help find a cure for patients who have been struggling to get answers. Through social media, a text line and their own website, Chasing The Cure looked to their audience for answers. Suggestions by the viewers were then supported or shot down by a panel of doctors on the show.
The result? Real patients who ended up with real cures thanks to real audience engagement. By helping the patients tell their story, Chasing the Cure mobilized an entire community of people and in turn, created new, powerful stories of perseverance and recovery.
As the summer sun began to fade, a new wave of storytellers arose. The kickoff of football season always seems to bring out fun, innovative campaigns, and this year was no different. One of our favorites emerged out of Texas, and spread worldwide (literally!). It also happened to absolutely blow up our Twitter mentions, so thanks for that @TexasLonghorns!
In a weekly pregame campaign, the University of Texas Athletics team took to the heatmap to check in with and invigorate their fan base sending out tweets like this. The posts sparked a plethora of responses from fans all around the world, and the Longhorns team was prepared to listen and interact with each and every one of them from their social command center.
Rounding out the month, we head north to Philadelphia for the Overwatch League (OWL) Grand Finals where the Blizzard production team kept the energetic audience in attendance and at home engaged throughout. Pulling in real-time reactions and words of encouragement on social, Blizzard crafted a wildly entertaining story around the finals fueled by the OWL community tuning in.
Speaking of marquee sporting events, October had its fair share as well, and where the marquee events go, the storytellers follow. Throughout the historic 2019 World Series, game producers at both stadiums tracked the storylines on social and highlighted some of the top content each game for all to see.
Meanwhile up in Regina, Saskatchewan, the NHL played host to the Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames in another edition of the Heritage Classic. Despite the windy and snowy conditions, the NHL team put on an extremely engaging event that embodied the tradition and pride of hockey in Canada by involving the local and national community in the conversation.
November brought with it plenty to be thankful for, especially the fourth annual #Verizon360 virtual reality experience at Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The livestream took the time-honored tradition into the future, giving viewers an immersive experience right along the parade route with 360-degree cameras.
This year viewers at home had the chance to “direct” the show by voting in real time to build their own balloons, including questions such as ‘where does your balloon live’ and ‘what is your balloon doing’? The unique balloons could be seen floating down the parade route moments later in augmented reality.
Rounding out a jam-packed year full of enticing stories and immersive, engaging experiences, we land at college football championship weekend and a spectacular YouTube community event in Tokyo.
The SEC championship team made use of every screen that the incredibly robust signage system at Mercedes Benz Stadium had to offer. Showcasing content from fans and celebrities in attendance, real-time photos from the game photographers, and engaging the crowd in a hashtag battle between the two teams. They covered the story from every angle.
On the other side of the world, YouTube hosted an interactive community event in Tokyo, Japan that brought YouTube stars out from the small screen to the big stage. The YouTube Fan Fest team built up anticipation for the event with a countdown timer, and bolstered the conversation both in-venue and on their live stream throughout the show. The collaboration with the audience at the show and those tuning in remotely made for one of the most interactive stories we’ve seen in 2019.
What a year it was! This is only a small sample of everything our amazing partners accomplished, but it’s a great representation of powerful storytelling and something we can all learn from. We had a huge year of product launches including Smart Panels, Tagboard Composer, and a whole new content series in #Storyteller, but none of this would be possible without partners who continue to push the boundaries. For that, we are extremely thankful, and we can’t wait to see what 2020 has in store!