ESPN’s Monday Night Football’s season opening game New Orleans vs. Houston raked in 13M viewers and even more engagement online. Of that online engagement, thousands of complaints rolled in on Twitter after ESPN broke a cardinal rule of football, using yellow (ish) for something other than a flag. For those unfamiliar, any time a foul / penalty is committed in football, the referees throw a yellow flag on the field. Fans rarely ever welcome this sight, especially if its against their team. On all broadcasts, a yellow indicator pops up on the screen once the flag it thrown.
With 13 million people watching, ESPN thought it would be a great idea to have a yellowish arrow pop up on the screen after EVERY play. The down and distance indicator, which shows what down it is and how far the offense has to go to achieve a first down slid onto the screen with an eye catching yellow tint. It’s easy to see how this could cause nonstop, unnecessary concern for viewers. From common fans to professional sports journalists, the complaints grew rapidly on Twitter. So much so that Bill Hofheimer (ESPN’s Sr. Director of Communications) responded and stated that they were “aware of the feedback” and actually updated the color of the graphic for the second half of the game. Proving once again, Twitter is king when it comes to public reaction inciting change.
Sports Illustrated’s Coverage: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ftw/2019/09/09/espn-changes-monday-night-football-graphic-after-complaints/40104657/