Get Ready, Get Set, Stop?

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Published on September 26, 2016, at 4:21 p.m.
by Mary Catherine Molay.

Opening week for the National Football League (NFL) brings in a lot of attention; however, this year, much of the media attention was negative as ESPN’s Fantasy Football app crashed — for hours. So the question is, how can users be guaranteed that the fantasy football app will work, especially during periods of high-volume site traffic?

How does it work? With fantasy football, the user decides what league they want to play in, and then they create a roster. Each league has a draft, and two people cannot have the same player. During the course of the season, you set your new lineup each week and see how many points your team acquires.

Ready, set, don't go
Photo by Daniel X. O’Neil

The app crashed just as the first nine games were set to kick off. Millions of users went on to the site to check on their lineups and prepare for the game only to discover that they were unable to see what was going on. This disruption in service caused chaos to set in.

ESPN did its best to resolve the issue; however, those efforts did not make its app users happy. In the midst of NFL season, we must ask ourselves: As PR practitioners, how can we prepare for the unexpected?

For the first week of NFL football, ESPN should have been more prepared for the crash. According to CNN Money, this is not the first time that ESPN’s Fantasy League has crashed during week one. So the question remains: Why was ESPN not more responsive to what was going on? Sure, ESPN reps tweeted three times acknowledging the problem and worked to correct it. But the thing is, the crash was resolved about five hours after the first game started. The delay left many people unhappy.

Ready, set, dont go

Ironically, the medium that ESPN took to, patrons went to as well. Many tweeted about how displeased they were waiting for the app to be restored. Most of these tweets were hilarious, throwing in GIFs from popular movies and TV shows, but they collectively show how frustrated people actually were. The app’s users covered up their frustrations with humor, but we cannot let humor hide the fact that there needs to be something in place to manage such situations in the future.

Although some people can get a laugh out of the crash, it is still unacceptable that ESPN did not have its act together. Going forward, PR practitioners in a crisis need to be more communicative to their audience about what is going on. At the end of the day, your relationship with your consumers is what will drive your business’ success. ESPN needs to have a back-up plan in place so that if another crash does occur, it will be able to address the problem quickly.

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