In the second part of his mini-series, Franchise wonders if MLSE is amping up the fan interaction element to shadow the lack of a quality product on the court...
The next time you're at a Toronto Raptors game this season, take a look around.
This season, MLSE has jumped straight into the deep end of the "technology meets fan interactivity" pool.
Yes, over the past two seasons they've transformed the Air Canada Center into a state-of-the-art tech hub, but this year, more than ever, the focus of this is on the fans themselves.
From the area in which Jack Armstrong and David Amber dissect wins and losses, to the various in-game promotion efforts focusing, MLSE wants to extend the Raptors brand beyond just what's happening on the basketball court.
In some ways this is great.
MLSE is simply following the trends and as I mentioned in my first post of this nature, considering I find myself texting and checking scores and stats on my phone during the game, why not help fans along in this capacity.
But I had to wonder after the first two home games, if part of this "beefed-up media barrage," existed this season to compensate for the lack of a quality product on the court. After all, it's a lot easier to forget about a terrible Raps' performance when you're trying to win prizes and being bombarded with messages that take away from the box score.
And this continues even outside of the area.
This season more than any I can remember has featured incredible "behind the scenes access" type content both on Toronto's own website as well as RapsTV (or NBA TV Canada as it's now branded.)
I've watched a lot of this content, and interacted with it myself in various ways, and it's all done quite well.
But was there a strategic element involved?
In the past, the Raps haven't really cared too much about competing in the realm of social media and even their own official online presence was barely anything to write home about. The bulk of fans sought out sites like ours as well as the city's traditional newspapers and online sports portals like TSN.
Raptorspace, a Facebook per se for Raptors fans, various Twitter feeds, and even a huge push by their sports bar, Real Sports, to get in on the action.
And all this is great to a certain extent.
But again, when the smoke clears, what's left?
It's great that I can send a tweet to @realsports about reservations and feel like I'm a valued customer, or post a video on "Raptorspace" to interact with the brand in that fashion, but none of this changes the fact that the team that all of this "interactivity" is supporting is one that might struggle to win 20 games this year.
So here's my question for this morning prior to our Lakers' preview just after lunch:
Do you feel that the Raptors have pushed fan interaction this year harder than ever in effort to hide what could be a very ugly season?