You may have noticed I’ve been posting a lot more video pieces in the past six months or so. Friday’s PTI highlighted why.
Wednesday afternoon the Paris-based sports outlet L’EQUIPE posted a video account of Tony Parker characterizing the Spurs’ future pursuit of an NBA Title as futile. (With the club’s roster as presently constituted.) The San Antonio guard was seen making the remarks on-camera in french but translated subtitles were not added.
Early Thursday morning international basketball website FIBA.com provided an english translation of some of Parker’s remarks. That post was then picked up by eagle-eyed sports bloggers Jorge Sierra of Hoopshype.com, Tom Ziller @ SBNation, Matt Moore @ CBSSports.com and Kurt Hellin @ NBCSports.com.
Struck by Parker’s remarkably candid comments, I sought out the original report on the L’Equipe.fr site. I then obtained the video of Parker making his comments in french from the post, added translated subtitles to the clip, and re-posted the video so it could be disseminated across the United States and Canada. (With full credit and web link to L’Equipe.)
I posted the translated video around midday Thursday. Soon after, venerable SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS sports reporter Tim Griffin posted a blog entry that linked my Parker post and the subtitled video that originated from L’Equipe.
San Antonio ABC affiliate KSAT-TV then re-posted my translated L’Equipe video on its Facebook page, along with this question to its Facebook friends: “We’re interested in your thoughts on Tony Parker saying the Spurs are no longer championship contenders as presently constructed.”
After that social networking entry - based solely on the translated video - received hundreds of responses, KSAT-TV sports anchor Greg Simmons led his evening San Antonio sportscast with the story, which included the airing of my translated version of the L’Equipe video of Parker.
During his report, anchor Simmons pitched to the subtitled clip with this:
“The reaction is strong right back here in San Antonio.
“Appearing before reporters in Paris, T.P. 9 (Parker) said he felt the window of opportunity for another NBA Championship for the Spurs, with the big three and current support group, has closed. You can listen and read for yourself.”
KSAT then aired the subtitled L’Equipe video of Parker.
Coming out of the clip, Simmons then pitched to fan reaction of Parker’s statements, which obviously had already made the rounds within the city:
“Those statements may have been made in France but they are being heard loud and clear right here in San Antonio by Spurs fans.”
Simmons then featured on-camera comments from Spurs fans and responses from the aforementioned KSAT Facebook entry.
If you know anything about television news you understand that without video of Parker’s comments, KSAT would not have played up the story as it did, which included fanning out around town for fan reaction and reaching out to its thousands of followers on Facebook. That’s not to say that Parker’s comments wouldn’t have been mentioned on the same S.A. sportscast, but it would not have been presented in such dramatic fashion.
Without chasing down the french connection to the story - and providing a subsequent translation of the Parker video - what’s the odds it ends up in the living rooms of tens of thousands of San Antonians?
Or is featured the next day on sports TV’s most-watched, and influential daily show: ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption with Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser.
The subject of the plug was the translated L’Equipe video of Parker.
“Tony Parker spending time back home in France and perhaps that’s why he felt comfortable enough to say what he said about the Spurs in a recent interview unearthed by Sports by Brooks.
“Quote, ‘I don’t think this current team will play for the title in the future. We are aging, we must be realistic. It was sort of our last chance this season.’ Close quote.”
After affirming Parker’s dim view of San Antonio’s future, Kornheiser said that the Spurs guard wouldn’t have said such negative things about his NBA team had he not been speaking in his native tongue - while across the pond:
“What interests me though is I suspect that not only did he say this in France, he said it in French. I suspect that he did not think, because he’s in a foreign country, that it would be unearthed back in the United States.
“I don’t think he’d have told a San Antonio reporter this exact thing.”
That exchange followed SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS reporter Mike Monroe noting that Parker’s indelicate assessment had reached Spurs General Manager R.C. Buford.
“Who knows what the motivation is to say something like that,” Buford said. “I’m not going to get caught up in comments. All I can say is that we’re going to continue to build our team and try to be as good as we can be in the future.”
Buford probably would’ve been asked about Parker’s comments had the translated video of the guard’s remarks not gone viral. But with anglo-enabled video, millions more were made aware of the story.
For too long we’ve heard the people who ultimately control big media web operations, the same suits with no clue how to mine online’s tangible, financial value, tell us about how valuable video will be to the web.
When will that be?
If you’re talking online viewership of major league and major college sports, we’re very close, with ESPN3 leading the way.
If you’re talking online viewership of anything besides the above, welcome to 1983.
If you don’t believe me, checkout the ‘view’ statistics of videos posted to the the official Youtube accounts of all the big sports media players.
Gone organic, most original TV bits are reduced to double-to-triple-digits when consigned to online.
Those paltry numbers tell you that, like the circulation of the monopoly-enabled (and later, addled) newspapers the past century, viewership of original online sports programming is solely based on the venue. If ESPN provides a video top-front placement on ESPN.com, or directs a prime-time SportsCenter audience to the web, you will see huge online views.
But there’s no middle ground.
The reason I detailed the process by which the Tony Parker video eventually ended up on ESPN’s highest-profile daily show was to illustrate what will drive people to watch online-only videos. With or without plugs from shows like PTI. (Which I did appreciate by the way.)
For an online sports video to grab the attention of more than blood relatives, it must have something a web user can’t get anywhere else that is relevant to the viewer. (See proprietary.) Why would any right-thinking sports fan seek out video of a sports reporter and/or columnist and/or talk show host doing anything other than breaking a story or dishing privileged information?
What made the Parker video so valuable was that it contained content that - though not altogether proprietary - was a revelation to english-speaking NBA fans and national and local (S.A.) electronic media.
If I’m ever going to appear on an SbB-produced video, I’m only going to do so if I can provide viewers new and relevant information that that they consider valuable.
That’s precisely what KSAT-TV in San Antonio did in providing the Parker video to its audience. Not only was it new information, but it was highly valuable to the audience and a critical component of that particular type of journalistic enterprise.
To this point, web-centric video that is proprietary has never been made a priority by big media. The reliance remains, to this day, on distribution to fuel usage.
The Parker video, along with dozens of other original video pieces I’ve posted to Youtube.com, Dailymotion.com and Facebook that have garnered millions of views, prove that with strategic ingredients, the value of web video can be measured by more than institutional distribution.