By Arwa Mahdawi
If you locked me in a room and forced me to watch 2,430 Major League Baseball games then I’d most likely go mad. It’d only take a couple of games before I’d start trying to break free. Nevertheless my idea of hell seems to be a lot of Americans’ idea of the dream job. When the MLB announced a contest to find two super-fans who would be paid to watch every single MLB game in a glass-walled ‘Fan Cave’, nearly 10,000 people applied. The lucky winners, Mike O’Hara and Ryan Wagner, were announced at the end of March and have been comfortably ensconced in the Cave for almost a month now. Just seven months left to go, then.
But probably even the most die-hard baseball fan would get bored of seeing a couple of guys watch a lot of baseball. What makes the MLB Fan Cave really interesting is how it takes a gimmicky idea and transforms it into engaging content with longevity. Indeed, its location on Broadway is rather apt, with one MLB staffer describing it as “an ongoing Broadway show.”
Regular webisodes and daily live check-ins with the crew of MLB Network give viewers a reason to keep up-to-date with the progress of O’Hara and Wagner. Baseball talent and other celebrities also frequently pop into the Cave, providing fodder for content as well as a reason for fans to keep checking back. In addition a performance window onto Broadway plays host to a variety of live acts for fans. The content is all housed on the MLB Blog as well as social media channels.
The Fan Cave is geared up for maximum social media involvement. People walking outside are encouraged to “tweet at the cavemen!” via touch screens. @MLBFanCave (5,320 followers) provides regular updates and O’Hara (@mikeyoh21; 2,297 followers) and Wagner (@rwags614; 1,600 followers) regularly tweet. Twitter is also being used in more creative ways: Pepsi Max, an MLB partner, recently held a twitter scavenger hunt in the vicinity of the Cave for fans. And, at the moment, you can help O’Hara get the Beastie Boys to the Cave by tweeting them and asking them to do a concert at the Cave.
Baseball is at the heart of the Fan Cave but it’s also a vehicle which brings to life the way we’re all now consuming entertainment. Tim Bronsan, the Executive Vice President of MLB described the Cave as a “convergence of baseball with pop culture, social media, technology, celebrity, entertainment, music and art.” It’s also a convergence of baseball with complementary partners: Sony, Lazboy, Stanley Black and Decker and DreamSeat are just some of the brands partnered with the Cave.
The Fan Cave is live for the next seven months so, if you’re in NY, take the opportunity to go down and tweet at the Cavemen for yourself.