When it comes to leaking draft picks, networks should give audience what it wants

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With the draft approaching, the now-annual debate has emerged regarding whether the networks that broadcast the proceedings — ESPN and NFL Network — should avoid tipping picks.

It’s a philosophical question that both networks should resolve by asking this simple question:  What does the audience want?

Last year, a poll on PFT revealed that more than 78 percent of the 11,500 who responded don’t want the picks to be tipped.  We’re starting that same poll from scratch below, in order to get a fresh reading.

The challenge for the networks comes from the unique nature of the draft.  While on one hand ESPN and NFLN have hired a small army of news gatherers, the draft represents pro football’s equivalent of the Oscars.  And for the same reasons that audience doesn’t want George Stephanopoulous scurrying around trying to find out what it written inside the envelopes, the NFL draft audience doesn’t want to know whose name is one the card in the hands of the Commissioner until the Commissioner announces its contents from the stage at Radio City Music Hall.

The wishes of the audience apply both to reporting picks and predicting them.  While ESPN producer Seth Markman continues to insist that the advance information regarding the identity of each pick that makes its way to the production truck isn’t shared with the on-air talent, anyone who has worked in live television knows that good producers want to give their on-air talent the best possible information so that the on-air talent can be prepared to say intelligent things.  So if Markman is a good producer (and we assume he is), Markman presses his “all call” button and lets the guys at the desk know who they will be talking about.

And then Chris Berman often feels compelled to create the false impression with the audience that he is clairvoyant.

Even if Berman somehow is merely guessing, he guesses right often enough to undermine the audience experience.  Which is what this all comes back to.  Networks that care about the audience give the audience what the audience wants.  Networks that care only about the network give the audience what the network thinks the audience should want.

When it comes to the first round of the draft, the audience doesn’t want to know who the pick will be, via a tip or a guess or a camera placed in the player’s home, before the Commissioner announces it.  The sooner ESPN and NFLN figure that out and act accordingly, the more enjoyable the draft will be for those watching it on television.

80 responses to “When it comes to leaking draft picks, networks should give audience what it wants

  1. Don’t tip us off!! Neither on twitter! I had to unfollow Adam Scheftner last yr for a whole week so he wouldn’t be spoiling the party!!

    Keep us guessing

  2. What happend to the days when nobody knew before the player was actually calld to the podium. or on the phone? How the hell do the “Production” ppl know before the viewers and players? is this part of the Contract? are the rooms buggd? phones tapped? Ill continue to get draft updates on my phone instead

  3. I absolutely hated the draft 2 years ago when espn and NFL network seemed to be fighting each other on who could call it first, completely ruined the draft experience and the excitement.

  4. Tipping off the pick sucks. I understand the need to get graphics and such ready, but the guys at the analyst table don’t need to know who the pick is until it’s announced.

  5. I don’t want to know before the announcement is made. But more importantly, I don’t want Chris Berman, 20 years past his expiration date, talking at all.

    Please, ESPN, show some regard for your audience (yeah, wishful thinking) and can some of these guys who’ve been around for 30 years with 5 years’ worth of shtick.

  6. Why don’t they eliminate the on-air announcers and get a host? Problem solved.

  7. Florio report it now, Raiders either get Star Loutilli or Chance Warmack.Probably butchered there names, its all love.

  8. The most obvious giveaway is when the cameras show the player on the phone and his family celebrating before the pick is in. If the coaches and GMs had to wait until AFTER the commish announced the selection to call the player, there would be a lot less tipping, no?

  9. Personally I would not mind delayed coverage by 10 mins, if it gives us access into the actual war rooms! I would pay for that!

  10. There’s a really easy fix that the NFL can implement that would eliminate the problem entirely. However, that would require that the NFL implement a policy that makes sense. And the NFL hasn’t been doing a lot of that lately…

  11. Why call the player and they sitting right in the room?? That just Stooopid..this whole thing is made for Hollywood..Red Carpet pre draft shows ..post draft parties with all the GOLD DIGGIN HOOCHIES tryna get preggo by a BALLER hosted by porn stars and Rappers

  12. I liked it better when Pete Rozelle could not pronounce the name even after looking at the card:

    “The Atlanta Falcons select Brett Fa-ver, Quarterback, Southern Mississippi…”

  13. Should be possible to have at least one draft channel that does… Another that doesn’t

  14. I like it when they tip the picks. But then i like to go see movies with people who have already seen em so they can explain whats going on and tell me when the good part is about to happen.

  15. whats the point of the green room, if not to live and die along with the players. if they are smiling big while talking on the phone, that’s a pretty good tip.

  16. Agree 100% about two years ago – – it completely took the fun out of the draft by having both networks spoil the pick 5-10 seconds before Goodell gave the pick. I vowed that I’d only watch whichever network didn’t spoil the pick last year and after watching both telecasts for the first hour of last year, I decided that was NFL Network. Once I made that decision, I only watched the NFL Network for the next three days. My Neilsen will do the same this year!

  17. I can understand that the announcers want to be prepared with things to say but they dont have to tell us who the pick is. Just keep it to theirselves while preparing their thoughts. Tipping the pick is like watching the end of a movie first. Annoying….quit it!

  18. I preferred the draft when it was the all day event on Saturday and Sunday. Used to get the friends over for a BBQ and we would all talk about who should take who. Now I am wrestling the remote from the succubus to get an update between some singing show.

  19. If someone could only get all the draft picks in the green room to be on the phone at the same time when there is a phone call for one of them….that would be so funny.. both NFLN and ESPN would be in so much disarray. Now that would be awesome TV to see.

  20. This is Berman’s only true chance to seem intelligent. Of course he’s going to ham it up as much as possible.

  21. What does it matter? These so called experts never get anything right anyways. Mel Kiper must be fudging up his mock on purpose so he wont tip the picks.

  22. “Networks that care about the audience give the audience what the audience wants. Networks that care only about the network give the audience what the network thinks the audience should want.”

    Funny, ESPN has been trying to give us what the network thinks we want for years now. Do they even report sports news anymore or do they just keep talking about a topic until it’s forced to become “news”? ESPN decides what THEY find interesting and force it down out throats. Tebow and the Jets and the massive amount of coverage they spent on them last training camp is a good example. Who cares?? ESPN does….. So you do, even if you really don’t.

  23. They are going to do it any way. Doesn’t matter what this poll says. Each wants to scoop the other.

  24. I watched it last year on NFLN and there was no problem. They didn’t show the players on the phone (at least not until AFTER the pick was announced by the commish), and they didn’t have masternerd LaConfora running around and spoiling picks either. And Mayock just doesn’t seems like a guy who wants “help” from his producer. Don’t know if ESPN did it any differently, but last year was fine, really.

  25. It’s more entertaining to watch it unfold on TV than watching it unfold on my twitter feed on my phone

  26. If people want to know earlier they’ll find out online.
    I don’t need Berman telling me… then watching the Commish trot out. Waste of time.

  27. raider23mike says,

    keep us guessing.

    Hasn’t that been the Raiders draft philosophy for the past decade ??

  28. You could change the question to “Do you think networks will give the audience what they want during the draft?” and the results would probably still be the same.

  29. musicman495

    “I liked it better when Pete Rozelle could not pronounce the name even after looking at the card:

    “The Atlanta Falcons select Brett Fa-ver, Quarterback, Southern Mississippi…” ”

    Erm… there is something wrong with that. Can you spot it?

  30. Cant speak for anyone else but I would take it a step farther and say I was fatiguing a week ago on everyone’s “mock draft”. Stop the mock draft madness, we’ll know who they pick soon enough.

  31. Who cares? If Berman announces the pick ten seconds before Goodell, is that really going to have any effect of the upcoming season? Mute your TV until Goodell steps to the podium. “Problem” solved.

  32. Florio–The nfl could make a lot of money by opening their draft rooms for the cameras. Maybe you could watch your team via streaming video… That could add such an interesting element. With all the room mic’d up, the communication would evolve over the years to code like the qb’s at the LOS so other teams couldn’t understand what they were doing.

  33. Both networks already said they weren’t tipping the picks in that same article you linked. It is also showing the improvements in the works this year (especially for the 4th-7th round).

  34. Which one is better at not tipping picks? ESPN or NFLN? Thats the network i will be watching.

    Even last year they tried to have the hosts not tip the picks. But we still heard berman the herman say something along the lines of “Id be willing to bet Cincinnati is going offensive line with this pick” when NOBODY else was expecting it and he magically was right.


  35. I really don’t care one way or the other if selections are ‘leaked’ or not.

    Why not do something that makes sense, like telling the teams that 15 minutes per pick (on the first round, especially) does NOT make any sense. If a team doesn’t know who it wants to pick in that first round without spending 15 minutes additional time discussing the choices, have they actually rated the players? The only circumstance that the team might need a 15 minute time-frame to make a selection would be if they are in last-minute discussions for a trade. Then again, ‘last-minute’?

    Make it 5 minutes or less per pick. And then we won’t have to hear all the pontificating by ‘experts’ like berman. If those ‘experts’ want to pontificate, do it at another time, please. Some time when I won’t be watching.

  36. Great post. I could care less about twitter because I’m actually WATCHING THE DRAFT.
    Just don’t let any announcers tip a pick.

    BTW – hopefully both networks don’t have black bars on the screen for the HD feed. It annoys me with the useless overlay info they provide. A simple running ticker at the bottom is sufficient.

    GO BIG BLUE!!!

  37. Amen. I hate it when both networks try to give their “insiders” some cred by trying to be first to announce the pick. Being first isn’t always best. Ask CNN after Boston.

  38. Wasn’t it last year where the NFLN made a point NOT to tip the pick before the commissioner announced it? If so, why wouldn’t they continue that way this year? I definitely watched more NFLN over ESPN last year for this very reason.

    Also, it’s less Berman saying what the pick is going to be and more being able to see who is answering their phone in the green room.

  39. It should be easy enough to have the on-air talent in a sound stage watching on big screen monitors like the rest of us.

    It’s OK if the guy in the sound truck or manning a camera on the floor knows the pick. If you don’t tell the broadcasters, they will have to fill the time up to the announcement with speculation, right or wrong, just like the rest of us.

    It’s not enough to shove a gag in the announcers mouths. You can’t fake being surprised. So, for this to really work, the announcers can’t know either.

  40. Why is this such a big deal every year?

    I understand the want for not having the suspense ruined… I’m that way too, so guess what? I stay off twitter during the draft.

    Crazy concept, I know.

  41. Why do the talking heads need to be tipped off early in order for them to have something to say? They have been talking about the attributes of all the draftees for several months now. How long does it take to download a file on a player from a database? Maybe a second. If not, then the networks should upgrade their computer systems.

    I think the commentators want the advance warning so that they have time to think (instead of just parrot the same old comments that they have made prior to the draft). It points out the inability of many “analysts” to actually analyze and not just present previously arranged “thoughts”. I bet Mike Mayock could roll with no advance warning. Berman et al., not so much.

  42. Don’t kill the golden goose NFL. The draft gets crazy ratings due to the suspense. Don’t do anything to jeopardize that.

  43. What fascinates me is watching the player selected talking on his cell phone while keeping everyone waiting before they come out and accept their #1 jersey.
    Who in the hell are they talking to? The head coach? Their girl friend? Their mom? Their stockbroker?
    Ban cell phones and have the player come right out. Then turn Berman’s mike on.

  44. I’m just happy we have a draft at all. I mean just think if everyone wanted to be like Elway or Eli and force their way away from a team they didn’t want to play for and to a team they did want to play for? If that happened then they’d have to scrap the draft altogether. So whether picks get spoiled or not, I’m just happy we still have a draft.

  45. I hate seeing the players answering the calls before the pick is in. I quit watching two years ago because of this. I’m also not a fan of the three day draft but that is neither here nor there. Quit the tipping and I’ll watch again. Until then, why bother?

  46. Just call the kids AFTER the pick is announced. They always ask “how would you like to be a_______” but it’s not like any of the picks will pull a Manning/Elway and say “don’t pick me”. All the graphics are preset except the team associated with the player and that would only take a few seconds to paste together and get on the screen.

  47. The only thing I want on Thursday is no Chris Berman. Do you think we can get that?

  48. I watch the draft to see who the teams are picking. If I see the guy on the phone or hear the commisioner call their name, it really has no bearing on my life.

  49. Chris Berman is a joke and needs to be fired. He’s doing the same name rhyming schtick that he’s been using for baseball for the past 20 years. He’s a blowhard and they need to go younger. He brings nothing to the table and is the main reason I watch NFL Network now for draft coverage.

  50. What does it matter if you know before hand who’s getting drafted where.any other year you would know the first overall.to me it does matter.but I look more forward to hearing the fans at radio city music hall boo the hell out of Roger Goddell.now that makes my draft

  51. At the time I voted it was roughly 12,500 no tip 1,500 tip and 600 don’t care. Even REPUBLICANS and DEMOCRATS can see those results, drop the tipping and let the Commish announce the picks. Really how hard is that?

  52. Florio, please send this poll and the comments to the networks. Clearly a vast majority of fans DO NOT want the picks spoiled before the announcement. I, for one, will stop watching altogether if they don’t. Heck, why not satisfy everybody and put “tipped” draft coverage on ESPN 1 and NFLN, and “non-tipped” coverage on ESPN 2 and NFL Redzone? Problem solved. Not like there is too much other sports news to report that night…

  53. OK, throughout most every comment there have been always a few who disagree when the comment says something to the effect that they do not like being tipped off…and I agree, I hate getting tipped off. It ruins the excitement in my opinion…so I am curious to hear from someone who likes being tipped off…why?

  54. I don’t understand you people. It’s not “spoiling” the pick, it’s just finding out a few minutes earlier than Goodell announcing it. It’s still a surprise, and it’s nice to know ASAP in my opinion… I’ll bet you are the same people who want to wait until the baby is born to know if it’s a boy or girl. I just don’t get it.

    forty9asty: That’s a great idea to have a non-tipped coverage on a different channel.

  55. I can just see a doofus like Adam Schefter hiding under tables of teams ,with his Twitter account open, desperately trying to listen in on draft pick decisions. He’s also bugging his network’s connections in his whiny voice, “come on, tell meeeeeeee who you’re going to pick! I need to be first! Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”.

  56. The production folks should not need advanced notice of the picks. They prepare the graphics and information in advance anyways. They just need a guy to click on the right filename on the computer the instant the commish announces the pick.

    Why is this so difficult?

  57. One thing I have learned along the way is that whatever Mel Kiper predicts is probably wrong.

  58. How about this since it shouldn’t even be a debate. Have ESPN not tip off viewers as they have 75 know it alls like Berman, Schefter and Keiper that like to hear themselves talk and seeing them scramble to find names in notes when they’re 100% wrong is very entertaining.

    Then have NFL Network be the ones that cover the green room so those who like the “Aaron Rogers” shot of the poor kid that thought he was a top 10 pick who’s now stuck playing angry birds on his cell phone get what they want.

    two networks, two completely different types of coverage and everyone is happy.

    Why is that difficult?

  59. The NFL should just step in and force the NFLN to not tip picks. The NFLN can in turn tell it’s audience to expect no tipping, no videos in the players home prior to the pick, no shots of cell phone calls to the table, just analysis and discussion of who’s available.

    When the audience flees ESPN for NFLN they’ll be happy for it.

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