Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Thursday, July 08, 2021

More than a year ago, we were expecting future sports-transaction news to be delivered directly from the players, via social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook.

But when you’re LeBron James, and you’re the preeminent free agent of this 2010 National Basketball Association offseason… Well, why settle for a measly Twitter account when ESPN will give you an hour of airtime to announce “The Decision”?

Sources told ESPN The Magazine’s Chris Broussard that representatives for James contacted the network, proposing the idea of a dedicated special. The sources said James’ representatives requested they be allowed to sell sponsorship for the broadcast, and ESPN agreed.

“Due to the unprecedented attention and interest surrounding LeBron’s decision, we have decided to make this announcement on national television,” James’ business manager, Maverick Carter, said on lebronjames.com.

Old media trumps new media once again, when it comes to the monumental events. And indeed, James announced his choice of the Miami Heat tonight, a moment that was blunted only slightly by the leaks earlier that indicated he had decided on south Florida.

Considering how commoditized other aspects of sports business have become, having a marquee player build a television special (really, an advertising vehicle) around his contract signing is a natural. The NFL Draft is a major offseason viewing event, and “free agent frenzy” coverage is a major staple in all major-pro sports media (including college signing days and the like). Since the audience interest continues to grow, we can expect future dedicated event coverage like this, stemming from the players or the teams/leagues. It’s a significant step in that a player like James now commands enough clout to control the message so thoroughly, and on an enviable national-broadcasting stage.

The only thing, regarding James’ @kingjames Twitter handle: Typical of many celebrity accounts, he’s amassed a few hundred thousand followers while following nobody. A deft move, simultaneous with James’ live announcement on ESPN, would have been that zero-following changing to a 1 — with that one being the team he finally chose. Perfect orchestration, and a nod to the online fanbase. Maybe for the next mega-free agent circus, next NBA offseason.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 07/08/2021 11:54pm
Category: Basketball, Social Media Online, SportsBiz, TV
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