Clickbait is irritating but it’s something we’ve all done in this industry at one time or another. When it’s all about clicks and viewers, an effective headline or tease that doesn’t reveal everything but is enough to compel the reader or viewer to click or tune in can go a long way.
That being said, not everything should be teased. Some things are too serious that trying to use it as a tease, like you would for a “start ’em or sit ’em” fantasy football segment, can be tacky and insensitive. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter didn’t let that stop him when he tried to tease senior VP of officiating Al Riveron’s positive COVID-19 test in order to get people to watch Sunday NFL Countdown.
After nearly a half hour into the show, Schefter tweeted that the NFL had its “first notable in-season case of COVID.” That’s certainly newsworthy, especially considering there seemed to be no positive tests from “players or coaches” the first week of the regular season. But instead of reporting the news when he had it, Schefter and ESPN took the opportunity to try and get people to tune into Countdown to find out who tested positive.
NFL’s first notable in-season case of COVID….coming up on Sunday NFL Countdown.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 20, 2020
Less than 10 minutes later, Schefter revealed on the show and online that it was Riveron and that he’s back at work this weekend. But the whole idea of using this as a tease is some Network type ratings ploy.
As some pointed out, Fox NFL insider Jay Glazer did the same thing in April when he spent an entire day teasing “big, big news” that would be revealed on Fox Football Now. That turned out to be Rams center Brian Allen becoming the first NFL player to have COVID-19 and people did not like the tease. At least Schefter only teased his news for less than 10 minutes compared to an entire day but Schefter should’ve seen that fallout and with the benefit of hindsight, realize that wasn’t a good idea.