WRAL-TV Sports Anchors Mandy Mitchell & Jeff Gravley are ready for go time in the control room as WRAL’s documentary about college sports gets set to air.
CBC tackled another industry first on Tuesday, September 24, 2013, when we aired “College $ports: #missionormoney,” a WRAL-produced documentary which included a social media element both during and after the show.
The WRAL Documentary unit, WRAL-TV, CBC New Media Group and CBC Sports Radio worked together to create a two-hour interactive experience built around the latest documentary by WRAL-TV Documentary Producer Clay Johnson, WRAL-TV Documentary Photographer Jay Jennings, and WRAL-TV Sports Anchor Jeff Gravley.
What’s special about “College $ports: #missionormoney” is the interactive part of the broadcast. While the doc aired on TV, viewers could be on their computers, iPads or smart phones making comments on the program.
In addition to what viewers saw on TV, WRAL put bonus content online that they could share.
“It was an amazing project to work on,” said Gravley, who hosted the documentary. “The difficulty was taking such a complex subject, with many opinions and condense it into an hour of programming. Producer Clay Johnson and photographer/editor Jay Jennings did a great job of crafting the documentary from an idea hatched had a year ago.”
The project took a dedicated crew of CBC staffers from a variety of divisions.
“When the idea of making this our first interactive, social TV event came along the number of people working on the project doubled,” said Gravley. “It was interesting to sit in the control room while the documentary was airing and watch the Tweets pour in with opinions of what people were seeing in the documentary. As an anchor, I never get to see the reaction of the viewers at home. Through this social media event, I felt a little more connected with our audience.”
A large team of WRAL, CBC New Media & CBC Sports Radio staffers worked hard to pull off the social media event.
WRAL-TV Creative Director Shelly Leslie worked alongside CBC New Media Director of Content Jodi Glusco on the interactive portion of the event and much more.
“It was an epic, total team effort,” said Leslie. “I’m so proud of what we did together. We had very specific goals for the social side of the project. We wanted to make our hashtag #missionormoney among the most used hashtags locally on twitter. We surpassed that. We unseated #Raleigh as the #1 hashtag! Another goal was to prove we could start a national conversation with a local program. We did that. #missionormoney was the #6 hashtag in the Nation. We even had someone tweeting from Australia. We dominated locally, trended nationally and had global participation. Not bad for a local TV station right?”
The documentary definitely launched a debate.
“The fact that noted sports agent Leigh Steinberg was Tweeting about the documentary was an eye opener,” said Gravley. “There was so much information pouring into the two control rooms we used for the pre-game, doc, and post-game shows. At one time we had a radio feed from 99.9, video from the doc and multiple Tweets running through the video switcher. It was a grand example of multi-tasking.”
WRAL also brought the latest equipment onto the team.
“We used a brand new piece of technology called TVInteract, a beta iPad app designed to quickly curate and put live tweets on the air with no post graphic work needed,” said Leslie. “This is critical functionality in a live program that’s moving so fast.”
Between the WRAL control room, the newsroom, and the studios at CBC Sports Radio, well, many, many hands and minds went into the historic broadcast.
“You could almost launch a space shuttle with the number of people it took to coordinate and execute this project!” said Gravley.
“Overall, we did more than we set out to do — and that’s saying something, because the team had a big vision for this,” said Leslie. “Starting with what is an incredibly produced documentary, we spawned passionate social debate about an important topic.”
Thanks to WRAL-TV’s Shelly Leslie & Steve Hammel for contributions to this capcom story & for these graphics & photos.