Stadium’s New Twitter-Exclusive College-Football Show Leans Into Interactivity

Stadium Kickoff Live is a four-camera shoot using a Ross Mobile Productions’ truck

This weekend, the latest pregame college-football show was on Twitter with sports network Stadium’s debut of Stadium Kickoff Live. This hour-long show is created on location and is rich in interactivity, as viewers can get their questions answered by the on-air talent.

From left: Doug Gottleib, C.J. Spiller, and Eric Wood host Stadium Kickoff Live, which airs on Saturday mornings, exclusively on Twitter.

Stadium is a Chicago-based multiplatform sports network owned by Silver Chalice, Sinclair Broadcast Group, BAMTech, the NHL, PGA TOUR, and Meredith. After launching last year, it grew into a 24/7 sports network that distributes over linear TV, OTT, and CTV. This is Stadium’s first time creating a program just for Twitter.

When Twitter and Stadium announced a partnership at the 2017 Twitter NewFront, Stadium said it would stream 24/7 on the platform. This aligns with Twitter’s goal of becoming a live-video destination, one that leads with sports. This new production will preview three ACC games.

For Stadium, working with Twitter has meant learning to go deep with fan interactivity. “In the back half of last year, we spent a lot of time testing and learning how their consumers were reacting to our content,” explains Dan Scalia, managing director, revenue, Stadium. “But we also knew that what we put on television can’t be exactly what we put on Twitter. Consumers are looking for something different there. It’s not necessarily a lean-back experience. They want some level of interactivity, but they also want a lot more in the way of short-form.”

The show features four hosts, a four-camera shoot, and a casual atmosphere. Hosts Doug Gottlieb, C.J. Spiller, and Eric Wood sit on director’s chairs and respond to incoming questions while sharing commentary. Amina Smith, host of Stadium’s high school sports show, works as social-media correspondent, mixing with the crowds and tailgaters. The 60-minute show airs without ad breaks, with sponsors integrated into the content. Samsung televisions and devices are shown on-set, and Maytag branding is incorporated into produced video segments. Twitter is the lead partner selling sponsorships for the show.

A show this social needs a team behind the scenes cueing up the hosts. Stadium Kickoff Live producers follow all the college-sports social chatter leading up to show time, then monitor Twitter so that they know what topics are getting heat. It’s the viewers who steer the show. Although show segments are roughly blocked out ahead of time, the actual content is created in the moment.

Stadium’s Dan Scalia: “What we put on television can’t be exactly what we put on Twitter. Consumers are looking for something different there.”

The premiere episode, streamed from Clemson, SC, before the NC State–Clemson game, is currently pinned to the top of the @WatchStadium Twitter account for anyone who missed it. Next Saturday’s show will preview Clemson–Florida State from Tallahassee, FL, and the Nov. 17 episode will preview Miami–Virginia Tech from Blacksburg, VA. Stadium didn’t want to bite off more than it could chew with this initial run, Scalia explains, so it chose three games where, given its deep relationship with the ACC, it knew it could deliver a unique experience to fans.

Stadium Kickoff Live is shot with four Ikegama HDK-95C broadcast cameras using 22X live stream to Twitter, which then handles end-viewer distribution.

Stadium is getting the word out by promoting the show during its live games and studio programs and using its linear-distribution networks in local areas. Twitter adds to the promotion through Twitter Amplify, its video-ad tool.

For this initial run, Stadium is keeping an eye on overall engagement, total views, and fan interaction, hoping for an incremental reach north of 2½ million–3 million. It’s already looking at an expansion once this run is complete. Creating a similar offering for college basketball is the obvious choice. The show would need to be tailored to the sport and location and would need to feel distinct from what other Twitter partners are already doing. Stadium is also looking to create a college-football bowl-selection show hosted by Brett McMurphy. But, for now, it’s focusing on making Stadium Kickoff Live as fun and interactive as it can be.

“We knew just putting somebody with a suit and tie often comes off as not all that inviting. It’s kind of one person talking at you,” Scalia says. “We want the whole conversation to be driven by the fans. Given that 90% of the show is going to be fan-led, you’re going to see them behaving a little bit tongue-and-cheek on set.”

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