One of two new members of The MMQB team. More than a decade after he finally got his own blog while covering the Patriots, Albert takes a look at what’s in store for the future of NFL media coverage
I’ll start here: I don’t know where our business is going to be in five years.
I don’t think anyone does. Not me. Not you. Not my new bosses. Not my old bosses.
And that’s exciting as hell.
The 2016 season will be my 12th covering the NFL, and TheMMQB.com will be the fifth home I’ve moved into during that complicated, competitive, sometimes overly self-indulgent and sometimes too self-important neighborhood. When I started covering the Patriots for the MetroWest Daily News, in 2005, blogs were the new way to cover pro football, and I had to wait almost a year to get my own.
Now, blogs are about as cutting edge as a typewriter.
So what do I expect moving from the NFL Network, the league’s in-house media arm, to a vertical at an iconic brand of independent journalism? I don’t know, exactly. But that’s why this was so appealing to me.
Despite football’s many issues, I still believe there will be a robust market for NFL content for the foreseeable future. How it’s delivered, though, will continue to change—and it’s on all of us to get in front of that.
I know how to use Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. It probably surprises no one that over the last month (I had some time off) I had to figure out how to use Snapchat and Periscope, and I’m probably not out of the woods there yet. I mean, Snapchat is loud and confusing and makes me feel 30 years older than I am. Which is to say I’m not positive how we’ll leverage all that, but we’re going to figure it out. And if I’m going to do it, you can be sure I’ll try to make it happen without coming off like some mid-life crisis dad.
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The other part is how we communicate with all of you. That’s also constantly changing.
A few years ago, I was sitting at a bar with a friend who’s in commercial real estate. He played college soccer and is into European soccer. He follows all sports, but I’d consider him a casual NFL fan. A reporter came on the TV, covering a big NFL story at the time, and my buddy started reeling off where he thought the information had come from. He was pretty much dead on. He then explained how he thinks so much of this stuff is pre-packaged and staged, and he wondered how much of it was on the level.
I don’t tell that story to throw anyone into traffic; I just think it illustrates how our audience has better radar for BS than ever before. There are plenty on the internet who are ready to call us on any nuance of BS, which is good, because it makes us all accountable for what we say and do.
My belief is that’s a big reason why outlets such as Barstool Sports have thrived: they come off as real and honest and unapologetic, and people can take what they say and continue the conversation. Add this up and it’s not complicated. Put together a product people can interact with, and find a way to deliver unique content through channels where it’ll be consumed by as many football fans as possible.
The trick is getting access to players and coaches and NFL insiders that no one else has. Of course, we’re all aiming at a target that’s constantly moving. But again, that’s why I’m so jacked to get going at The MMQB, which has been an agenda-setter since it launched nearly three years ago.
The more Peter King and I talked about making this move, the more convinced I became that this would be a great chance to be a player in all that change our business is facing. The things I’ll be able to do here that I wouldn’t have at NFL.com don’t stop at the obvious. In the end, it was a chance to invest in something, and help make The MMQB a destination that people can’t wait to come back to.
So yes, we’ll be doing a lot more video features, and plenty of live video. We’ll be doing podcasts. We’ll even be writing, too.
I hope that when something happens in the NFL, our site is where you’ll go to make sense of it.
Do I know what that will look like in 2017? Or 2020?
And that’s probably the best part of all.
Question? Comment? Let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org