Along with the NBA Finals, the broadcast rights to the NBA Draft are among ESPN’s most prized possessions in their TV deal that costs them billions of dollars each year. Most years, ESPN’s news breaking reporters are forced to sit on their hands when it comes to sending out information about draft picks ahead of the television broadcast, but that will apparently change this year.
According to Sports Illustrated‘s Richard Deitsch, the sports media giant will no longer put restrictions on its reporters tweeting out draft information ahead of TV.
This is a fairly big deal, considering for years The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski and others have dominated draft night coverage on Twitter by being able to reveal draft picks ahead of the TV broadcast. Some have complained that has ruined draft night, while others welcome the knowledge that — once we get to the late first round and second round — often gets to three or four picks ahead of the event itself as cards get stacked up.
Last year, The Vertical’s draft night show, which featured Woj’s tweets live on the screen, was considered a major hit, and this appears to be, at least to some extent, a reaction from ESPN to that. It also could be a way to set precedent for the future, as we near the reported addition of Wojnarowski to ESPN as Marc Stein, Chad Ford, and others are on their way out. Adding Woj, but taking away his ability to break news, would seem to be a backwards move, so by opening up reporters now (and subsequently setting precedent for later) to tweet picks and breaking news as it happens, it allows Woj to seamlessly enter the ESPN realm and do what he does best.