New York Giants Reach Out to Fans With Interactive Material
The four-time Super Bowl champions are also going back to the vault
With the New York tri-state area becoming the U.S. epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, there is a huge need for psychological escape. For gridiron fans, the New York Football Giants are saving the day. With production-team members sheltering in place, the organization is churning out oodles of content for fans to escape into.
“We’re in the middle of our offseason activities, [which aren’t] affected as much [as other sports’ seasons], so we have our talent talking about where people are reportedly signing,” says Don Sperling, VP/executive producer, New York Giants. “We have access to footage through the VPNs on our computer that is tapped into our library. It takes a little longer for elements to render and files to move, but, other than that, we’re still putting out a good amount of content. We’re trying to keep up and keep our fans stimulated and informed the best way that we can.”
Working From Home: Productions Adjust to (Really) Remote Operations
Amid the numerous changes of the past few weeks, the entire production staff is learning how to cope in the confines of their respective homes. Despite a fair amount of comfortability, staffers face a handful of challenges in terms of controlling the environment.
“I think the audio has been better than the quality of video if you get a nice, isolated situation,” Sperling explains. “We already had situations where our radio talent that are on Sirius XM have ISDNs [Integrated Services Digital Networks] set up in their house. We’re very fortunate for that since it has worked out that way. I think lighting is the biggest issue. Figuring out if the setting is too light, too dark, or has too much glare has been a hard thing to do.”
After shooting, the reins are handed over to the content team. On any normal week, its members have a state-of-the-art studio with the latest technology at their fingertips. In the current environment, that technological aid is a little harder to come by. Despite being a bit behind the proverbial production eightball, however, Sperling’s team is prepared to produce a high volume of content with the somewhat limited tech available.
On any given day, the digestible, bite-size clips are handled by a large team of seven or eight editors and producers, seven or eight digital employees responsible for publishing the items on social media and the team’s website, and two writers, including Sperling himself, who develop the meat of the material. It’s just another case of people stepping up during these unforeseen circumstances.
“It has given people the opportunity to expand their abilities and come up with more creative ideas,” Sperling notes. “When you’re in the studio with high-end equipment in terms of cameras, audio consoles, editing systems, and storage, it’s a nice luxury. Now that we’re all at home, you have to find ways to present content in ways that you haven’t necessarily thought of before. It has been a good chance to come up with concepts that work and resonate with our fans.”
In the Know: Social Platforms Offer Football News, Giveaways, Player Features
Even with distance separating staffers from each other, the factory still has its sights set on keeping the production pace as efficient as possible. Every year, the football offseason is filled with whispers of different players’ being shipped to other teams. So, in typical fashion, the organization’s on-air team of former players Carl Banks and Shaun O’Hara, radio voice Bob Papa, and reporter/podcast host John Schmeelk will break down reported signings and potential deals likely to go down in the coming weeks. Also being readied is archival footage of the greatest games in franchise history.
— New York Giants (@Giants) March 30, 2020
In addition to the typical transaction rumor mill, there’s normally a chunk of downtime that allows the creative juices to flow. Fixtures like the annual schedule release in April or early May will still be provided in this year’s content package, but new elements are designed to accommodate the current global situation: fun giveaways like digital backdrops for fans to use on their own video calls, contests and sweepstakes, and posts that spread information about the coronavirus.
“Our players have been available to us, so we have a lot of material with Daniel Jones, Saquon Barkley, and Golden Tate,” says Sperling. “A lot of our former players are on our broadcast team, so we’re working with Victor Cruz on something really cool as well as footage breakdowns with guys like David Diehl and other Super Bowl Champions.”
The Foreseeable Future: Giants Prepare for Return to Normalcy
Throughout the ups and downs of 24/7 indoor living, the New York Giants have generated favorable results from their efforts. On the digital side, for example, the team has elevated through the YouTube ranks to become the most-interacted channel in the league. If there’s a potential silver lining of a breakthrough on the horizon, the team’s content strategy will adapt with the times.
“We’ve been planning on whether or not we’re going to be back in the studio,” Sperling explains. “But, if there’s a break [in the pandemic] in the next couple of weeks, we’re looking at technology from a lot of digital companies that would help us create an interactive live show that brings in all of the social-media platforms and incorporates people around the country and the globe. Everyone is trying to keep safe and follow the rules, but, if we are able to get back in there, it’ll be something that Giant fans can really hook onto.”
Until that day comes, Sperling and company will weather the storm like the rest of the world, but, for the moment, it’s a good time to reflect on the semi-healing power of sports as well as to conjure bright ideas for the future.
“Sports provide an escape for fans during tough times,” he says, “so let’s rehash and remember the Super Bowl seasons and the greatest players or moments in the game. Let’s talk about the future and what it could be, and, when we get back to normal, let’s hit the ground running.”