Scrabble Broadcasts - An Opinion

By Nick Ivanovski

In 2017, I posted an opinion piece on the WESPA website about the importance of live streaming, and how embracing this medium is something we must look to as part of overall growth in the game.

It was part of a trend that has seen demand for “games” coverage grow, which has been easier to meet thanks to advances in technology. Nowadays, even a mid-range smartphone can provide quality streaming coverage live to social media.

Social media also craves video coverage and sees it as the future for its own platforms.

With this increase in, for want of a better term, product, it is easy to miss an important aspect of any sports coverage: “non-game” material to support the coverage of the game’s players in action.

Whilst some people may consider the topics of Scrabble and sport being together a controversial pairing, it is only when you look at Scrabble from a sports viewpoint that the next stage in the evolution of Scrabble coverage is clear.

As an example, this year’s FIFA World Cup was a four week long football tournament, culminating in a Grand Final. However, there weren’t live games every minute of every day. There were discussions programs, highlights packages, “Tonight” shows – they all served a purpose; to complement the live coverage and to create greater interest in the remainder of the matches to come.

As this article is posted, the 2018 North American Scrabble Championship is reaching its final stages in Buffalo, NY – and, as each conclusion of the day’s play is reached, keen followers of the game are treated, live on Facebook, to a show that demonstrates just how wonderful this complementary coverage can be.

I am referring to NASPA Tonight: for me, as a show and format, it is unmissable.

In many ways, this type of coverage is just as (arguably if not more) important to the growth of competition Scrabble than the live streaming of game play.

The NASPA Tonight logo

Jackson and Josh, two of the hosts of NASPA Tonight

The reason, for me, is simple. It gives us the chance to see players in a different light – they become more than just pictures of people staring at a board, their heads partially buried in ones’ hands considering their next move. They become people for want of a better term… and you are given the opportunity to relate.

Speaking with Josh Greenway, one of the hosts of NASPA Tonight, over Facebook about the show, he explains: “NASPA Tonight was a project that was conceptualized a few years ago but that sat on the shelf for a long time. I wanted it to come out fully baked and high quality out of the gate. That kept me from getting started.”

“What I learned in the broader creator community was that the only way to take on a project like this is to simply start and try to get better over time. And that’s what we’re doing with NASPA Tonight. Whether it’s audio quality, lighting, show topics and formats, or broadcast tools, we’ve been trying to improve each week.”

The format is much more casual than live streaming of games, and with that, comes a sense of being more accessible, especially when you see how well the hosts work together on air.

It’s not necessarily straightforward to put something like this to air either, but the rewards are very high. Josh continues “I’ll say that the technical part of live streaming is difficult. But everyday there are new tools that are making it easier and easier to create live or pre-re-recorded content.”

Watching back episodes is easy – and are available on the NASPA Facebook page (with all episodes eventually being backed up to the NASPA YouTube channel) so if you haven’t come across this yet, you can still catch up with ease.

“While NASPA Tonight takes a real ‘insiders’ look at the Scrabble community, I know it’s possible to create content like this for a wider audience to draw more people to the game.” It’s a powerful statement from Josh and one that really resonates with me.

As a self-confessed Scrabble addict, I would thoroughly enjoy seeing this type of show take off globally. We need more like this – and NASPA Tonight has shown us this is possible. It is a template of that powerful tool that will help us take competitive Scrabble to the heights it deserves.

Nick Ivanovski is Chair of Promotions in WESPA. The views expressed are personal in nature only. Additional text with thanks to Josh Greenway. Photo Credits: NASPA