The NBA and its broadcast partners agreed to hold back on reporting on picks for this year’s NBA draft.
But they can’t stop Woj.
More than three hours before the draft was scheduled to begin, ESPN NBA insider extraordinaire Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted how the top six picks were taking “shape.”
Wojnarowski partly made his name as an NBA insider at Yahoo Sports by tipping pick after pick in the 2011 draft before the official announcements were made. While it didn’t really affect the ratings, ESPN, along with other league partners like Turner and Yahoo/Verizon, agreed at the NBA’s behest to not have its reporters tip picks.
There are some who believe that using Twitter to promote the broadcast would be better for ESPN and the NBA. Wojnarowski could have tweeted, “Tune into ESPN at a set time when I will tell you how the first six picks are taking shape.” ESPN — not Twitter — pays Wojnarowski well more than seven figures, the sources point out. The NBA would certainly prefer this approach.
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“We spoke with our media partners about our preference that ESPN’s exclusive broadcast rights be honored, but each organization will make its own editorial decisions,” NBA spokesman Mike Bass said.
ESPN declined comment following Wojnarowski’s tweet.
There are different feelings about how much of an impact the “Woj bombs” on Twitter have on the telecast. In 2011, when Woj’s tipping began, ESPN’s draft coverage drew 3.2 million viewers, while the most watched selection show was 2015, when the network had 3.74 million. Last year, with Wojnarowski still tipping picks at Yahoo, the draft had 3.42 million viewers.
The NBA has done surveys and found that its fans don’t like to know the teams’ choices before commissioner Adam Silver announces them on the broadcast.
After last year’s draft, Wojnarowski left Yahoo for ESPN for a multiyear deal that sources have valued at well over seven figures per year. ESPN had grown tired of having to credit Wojnarowski for breaking stories and wanted him to drive its coverage in house. In the process of signing Wojnarowski, the network let go its own very respected insider, Marc Stein. Stein has resurfaced as a writer for The New York Times.
Following Wojnarowski, his understudy at Yahoo, Shams Charania, who breaks his fair share of stories, tweeted out who the first two picks would be still hours before the draft.
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