The Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants played home games at the same time yesterday. The A’s hosted the Detroit Tigers, while the Giants faced the Chicago Cubs. Sellout crowds on both sides of the bay.
I saw the following on my Twitter timeline, a completely harmless posting.
— 95.7 The GAME (@957thegame) May 26, 2014
Since I was at AT&T Park and at that particular moment it seemed like the game was slipping away from the Giants, 95.7′s decision to post this tweet seemed curious. Is this information really necessary? Isn’t the Bay Area’s American League squad in the process of hitting a zillion homers?
However, KGMZ “live-tweets” games and their own interviews all the time. 95.7′s Twitter account posted 17 updates about the Giants’ 8-4 loss to the Cubs, and 19 updates during the Athletics’ 10-0 blowout win over the Tigers. Then they showed a little restraint Monday evening, with only six updates during Game 4 of Heat/Pacers.
95.7′s habit of flooding timelines with in-game updates is nothing new, but that tweet about Wellington Castillo was the final straw that led me to pose the following question …
Why does the A’s flagship radio station live-tweet Giants games?
— Bay Area Sports Guy (@BASportsGuy) May 26, 2014
Soon after, I got replies from John Middlekauff (who hosts KGMZ’s 10-to-noon show with Guy Haberman) and Jason Barrett (KGMZ’s program director) defending the practice by saying they don’t discriminate against any Bay Area fans or teams. Damon Bruce chimed in with a similar thought about two hours later.
I received dozens of responses from A’s and Giants fans who thought my question was valid, as well as a few who thought I was being a little too hard on 95.7 (including one person who said I “never listen” to The Game, a stalker-ish claim that doesn’t happen to be true). My initial question also branched off into several discussions between sports fans (mostly ones who root for the A’s) and the aforementioned hosts and PD. Thankfully, I was left out of most of those conversations..
I stirred up a lot more than I meant to with that question, mostly because key Entercom employees got so defensive. There’s a lot going on with this, so after mostly staying above the fray on Twitter yesterday (although I did read pretty much every back-and-forth, as a lot of those discussions were spirited), I think it makes sense to explain my original point in a forum that isn’t limited to 140 characters.
This was about their social media strategy, not their on-air content
No media outlet can go All-A’s-All-The-Time and expect to succeed in this market. The Oaklanders are on CSN California for a reason. We’ve had several talented writers produce A’s content over the last few years, and the traffic just isn’t there compared to just about anything written about the Giants, 49ers and Warriors.
Promoting the team that’s aligned with your station makes some business sense, but that’s approaching chicken-or-egg territory. 95.7 talks about all the teams, and while that might irk some East Bay fans, it’s kind of like the Aldon Smith situation with the 49ers. The 49ers are in the business of winning games. Entercom created the Bay Area’s first FM sports talk station to earn ad revenue, not because they wanted to provide a service for A’s and Raiders fans.
Live-tweeting games isn’t really necessary
Unless you’re adding something in the form of a pertinent statistic, a little humor or something that can’t be learned from a quick glance at the boxscore, what’s the point of “live-tweeting” a game? This goes for all sports, but baseball especially. Anyone who’s on Twitter has access to MLB Gameday, which features all the information 95.7 provides plus much more.
The Game’s relationship with the A’s might end after this season
Everything I’ve read says the A’s contract with KGMZ started in 2011 and goes through the 2014 season. The Athletics are a little touchy when it comes to outlets that pay close attention to the Giants’ exploits (I know this from experience), so they can’t be too happy with 95.7′s obvious pursuit of Giants fans. And it’s very hard to believe the Athletics appreciate their flagship station frequently reminding their Twitter followers that the Giants are playing, especially while the A’s are in the process of routing the team that knocked them out of the playoffs two years in a row. Those were my main thoughts when I asked that question yesterday, but the whole thing can be summarized with a different query that spans fewer than 140 characters …
Can you imagine Larry Baer’s reaction if @KNBR posted an A’s update every half inning?
That’s not to say Baer is the moral compass all media entities should follow. But there are reasons why the Giants have been with KNBR for decades, and it’s a relationship that has benefitted both parties immensely. The A’s have bounced around both dials over that time; we’ll see how happy they are with their current arrangement based on where their games can be heard in 2015, I suppose.