Features News and the Super Bowl

Let me preface this by saying I only see the Super Bowl as another hurdle to Spring Training.

This week, as part of my ongoing NewsTrack assignment, I followed ESPN’s coverage of Super Bowl 51. I focused on their pre-game coverage, starting from the evening of Friday, Feb. 3 up until right before kickoff, and analyzed their use of social media and statistics to prepare for and even predict the Super Bowl. One standout I noticed: ESPN’s extensive use of feature news and “fun” interactives to enhance the pre-game experience.


Pre-game coverage included videos on Twitter and Instagram, shown above, and an “inside the numbers” analysis of the Falcons’ defense. Both of these approaches predict the Super Bowl from two different angles: human interest, and statistics and data. One of the interesting and appealing parts of ESPN’s sports coverage is that they give equal weight to both points of view, that emotion is just as important as hard and fast stats.

Also on ESPN’s Snapchat story: a “cute” edit of Falcon’s quarterback Matt Ryan, after being named the NFL MVP, and an interactive fill-in-the-blank.


As far as reaching final conclusions and predictions, as of Feb. 2, the staff at ESPN predicted the New England Patriots to win Super Bowl 51 by an average of 20 points over the Atlanta Falcons.


Two hours before game time, ESPN posted more predictions and analysis, as well as a masterpost of links to watch the game, statistics, and previously posted analysis and prediction reports. As of 4 pm, game day, one prediction held the Patriots to a 20-point win over the Falcons.

Returning to human-interest angles, ESPN Twitter posted this photo of Tom Brady, his father, and his mother, who missed all of her son’s games in the regular season.



After coming back from an almost 20-point deficit after halftime, the New England Patriots claimed a win in Super Bowl 51. And Mr. Gisele comes home with a new shiny ring.


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