Darren Rovell’s Rise on Social Media

This article was updated on July 11th, 2020: 

Darren Rovell was quick to jump on the Twitter bandwagon back in 2009. He realized he could build a personal brand on the popular social media platform before most of his industry peers. 

What allowed Rovell to amass so many followers from the onset was carving out a niche, which was tweeting about the business side of sports. He learned more engagement and interaction happened when tweeting about what was happening off the field and behind the scenes versus on it. 

If you follow Rovell, you’ve been accustomed to the type of content he distributes. Below are some prime examples: 

The Haters 

Rovell has more than his fair share of detractors. This is evident by reading through the Twitter comments from any of his tweets. Since he talks about the business side of sports, there are plenty of people who feel his style “is the embodiment of corporate greed and cultural ruin.” 

“There’s no such thing as bad PR” is a famous saying in the marketing world. If people are talking about you, whether good or bad, that’s a good thing, especially if you work in the media and marketing world. Despite the negative comments on Twitter, since 2013, Rovell has grown his Twitter following from 405,000 to over 2 million. Rovell’s style on twitter is clearly resonating with a large audience. 

Traditional Media to Social Media 

Rovell is currently a Sports Business Reporter & Senior Executive Producer at the Action Network. He left his job as the Sports Business Reporter for ESPN. Rovell wanted “all in” on the sports betting craze as more states legalize this form of gambling, hence the move to Action Network. 

Prior to working at ESPN, Rovell was CNBC’s Sports Business Reporter. He was ahead of his times by starting a blog in 2006 called, Sports Biz with Darren Rovell.” He would constantly entice viewers watching his segment to read his latest blog posts. His blog posts were on topics that would have never received air-time at a business focused company like CNBC. For example, if Under Armour released a new line of shoes, he would write about this. He knew it could have an impact on the stock but not enough of an impact to warrant an on-air segment.

Rovell was getting massive traffic to his “Sports Biz” blog by utilizing CNBC’s powerful domain name and authority to rank well on Google. Due to his limited air-time at CNBC, he used this blog as an outlet to get his message out to the masses.

Rovell realized the blog was not his property, it was the property of CNBC. Despite Rovell writing the content and working on the distribution, he was building something that was owned by someone else. CNBC’s blog helped Rovell realize his exposure wasn’t limited to how much air-time a producer gives you. Twitter was the game-changing platform that Rovell dreamed of. He could create content and despite what network he worked for, he owned his content and had full control. 

Action Network

According to their website, Action Network is the “Best App for Sports Betters.” The move from a powerhouse media conglomerate like ESPN to a startup like Action Network would have been unheard of 10-years prior. It’s reported Rovell received an equity stake in Action Network. 

What exactly is Action Network getting in Darren Rovell? Below is the excerpt from the Washington Post article: 

“Action is getting is a reporter with the kind of reach — he has two million Twitter followers — that can both help visibility for a still-new company and also potentially drive customers to its website and app, where it offers reams of betting data and information, some free and some behind a paywall.” 

The move to a startup like Action Network from ESPN shows how much the sports media landscape has changed. Rovell doesn’t need an outlet like CNBC or ESPN to help distribute his message and succeed. He can and has gone directly to the consumer via Twitter to grow his own personal brand. 

In Closing 

“If it doesn’t sell, it isn’t creative.” This is a famous quote by David Ogilvy, the “Grandfather of Advertising.” Rovell realized if a tweet isn’t garnering engagement and interaction, it’s not creative and it’s not working. He realized there will be controversy when tweeting so often on a myriad of topics. Ultimately, Rovell understands if people are engaging with his content (whether good or bad) he’s winning. 

There are plenty of people that dislike Rovell. Yet there’s a strong likelihood those same people still follow him.