Bulls.com to air Harris Pregame Live throughout playoffs
By Jenna Quinn
It's no secret that today's social media outlets have become a world trend. From Facebook to Twitter, people across the globe are instantly connected by the click of a mouse or, better yet, by simply picking up their smart phones. When it comes to sports fans, specifically Chicago Bulls fans, they also exist well beyond the Windy City. Recently, the Bulls have developed a new way to get even the farthest fan from the United Center connected to their team and brand.
Sponsored and provided by Harris Bank, the Bulls' corporate partnerships and interactive marketing departments have joined forces to simulcast the Bulls' pregame radio show on ESPN 1000 live on Bulls.com. Known as Harris Pregame Live, the show makes it possible for fans around the globe to stay connected with their favorite team while also being an NBA insider in hearing the latest buzz throughout the league.
Senior Director of Corporate Partnerships John Viola says that Harris Pregame Live is one of a kind, aimed to unite fans both near and far.
"Harris Pregame Live is a Chicago Bulls production," says Viola. "We get access to guests who wouldn't necessarily agree to be interviewed by the mainstream media. Up until Harris Pregame Live, our interviews had been exclusive to our Bulls radio listening audience, but now fans from all over have the ability to catch the interviews and gain access to exclusive information and perspectives from Bulls top executives as well as current and former players."
The show first began airing in December, and, without any real promotion, tens of thousands of fans flocked to the Bulls' website to watch the show live.
"It's a success because it provides information fans want-in-depth access and an insider's perspective on all things Bulls," added Viola. "Making this timely and exclusive information available for Bulls fans across the world in real time is a win-win for everyone."
Hosted by Bulls radio announcer Steve Kashul, Harris Pregame Live has featured everyone from Bulls Executive Vice President John Paxson to Hall of Famer Scottie Pippen to team legend Horace Grant. Alongside Kashul, Bulls radio analyst Bill Wennington and play-by-play anchor Chuck Swirsky tip-off off each show beginning at 6:30 p.m. In addition, Harris Pregame Live is now set to be featured on the team's homepage (Bulls.com) before every upcoming home playoff game.
Senior Producer of BullsTV Brad Siegel says that broadcasting the show throughout the playoffs is a tremendous way to generate even more interest in the Bulls.
"We believe we have the very best pregame show there is," says Siegel. "Our goal is to promote the Bulls by drawing fans to our website. So far, the numbers have far exceeded our expectations. We always attempt to make every show appealing to both hardcore and casual fans."
The show consists of three separate segments and runs right up until tip-off. Kashul opens each broadcast with the latest Bulls news and recent goings on around the league. After a short break, the show brings in a featured special guest, be it Bulls President Michael Reinsdorf or General Manager Gar Forman, and then wraps up with an interview of Bulls.com writer Sam Smith or another beat reporter giving their two cents about the team and the NBA.
"I think Harris Pregame Live gives a visual outlet to every Bulls fan who wants a deeper understanding of what's going on with the team," says Wennington. "It is not television; it's a little more personal than that. It has great inside stuff because it's run by the Bulls. It's actually a neat concept. I've enjoyed being a part of it."
According to Jeremy Thum, Bulls Director of Interactive Marketing, the reason the show was created was twofold. Early this season it was discovered that traffic on Bulls.com often spiked throughout games, so why not look to generate more traffic before tip-off as well as post-game?
"We hope to keep the excitement about the Bulls running before tip-off, throughout the game and afterwards," says Thum. "So far, Harris Pregame Live has been very successful. Fans seem to enjoy being connected. Certainly, something like this takes time to establish itself, but, from the looks of it, we believe it's only going to continue to grow, especially during the playoffs."
The initiative for the show was at first experimental, but its continued success displays a great deal of potential in terms of where the world has come, from a social media aspect. Since the Bulls brand stretches around the world, it is a perfect conduit for fans in other countries to stay current on the squad.
"For Bulls fans that are out of state or living abroad, Harris Pregame Live is a must watch," says Josh Kahn, Associative Producer of BullsTV. "Internationally, nothing gets you this close to the action. I know people living in Israel and in Egypt that are Bulls fans, and this is a perfect way for them and everyone else who is far a way to get and stay connected with the team."
After a recent show, Kashul says he received email from fans in China and Australia, who had tuned in to watch.
"The Harris Pregame Live show is absolutely terrific because of all its elements," says Kashul. "On a typical night, we'll have Scottie Pippen, a Hall of Famer and six-time NBA World Champion, as a guest. Scottie always has great insights and often suggests what fans should look for going into the game. We also talk a lot about what he sees in this year's team compared to some of the Bulls Championship squads he played with back in the 1990s. It just doesn't get better than that!
"There just aren't any other pregame shows out there that offer what this one does. It's truly fantastic."