While mediaQuant makes it super easy to track the media visibility of your brand/topic/influencer at a snapshot level by looking at the prominent topline media rating brightly encircled in orange, and the related change metrics, media value, and peer ranking, we also provide media-segment granularity level and peer-group comparisons that are critical to painting the whole media story. Let’s take a look at OKC Thunder NBA player Russell Westbrook as an example.

Topline Media Performance Down for March

From an aggregate, topline perspective across all 20,000+ traditional and social media channels we measure, Russell Westbrook’s earned media performance for the March 1-31 news cycle was down considerably from his February metrics.

At 130,376 unweighted mentions for March, Westbrook’s current topline media rating of 51 (out of 100) ranks him #22 in the NBA Players sector, tied with Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo. Considering that Westbrook’s 6-month rating average is 64, March was definitely an “off” media cycle for the Thunder’s new team leader.

Media-segment metrics tell a brighter story

When it comes to the diverse and competitive earned media landscape, the devil is frequently in the details, and Westbrook is no exception. Looking at his segment-level metrics shows he lost the bulk of his March traction in U.S. newspapers (largest 50 U.S. dailies).

That’s the bad news, as the U.S. metros carry considerable sports coverage and losing traction in that segment could be a red flag (more on that later).

But Westbrook did deliver exceptional media ratings in a vital sports news segment – online news. As print metros cut back on coverage, their online versions and downstream tier-2 online news sites earned Westbrook a very strong rating for March, coming in at 83, a new high for Westbrook in that segment. If you exclude Jordan and Johnson (we continue to track iconic NBA brands), Westbrook ranked #5, just behind LeBron James (86) and ahead of Stephen Curry (80).

Russell Westbrook also out-performed his own team’s media visibility for March in the online news segment: Thunder, 78 vs. Westbrook, 83. The team is currently media-ranked #26 in the NBA teams sector, out of the 30 NBA teams. While the Thunder beat Westbrook at the aggregate level, that may be more a result of team comparison articles and storylines that exclude individual player commentary.

Besides online news, Westbrook also delivered on blogs (65 rating, +5 pts.), Twitter (88 rating, -1 pt.), forums (64 rating +7 pts.) and search (61 rating +12 pts.). If there’s any alert on his coverage it would be in the U.S. newspapers (51 off -44 pts.) and broadcast (54 rating, -16 pts.), both down from February and consistently under-performing his peer group.

Was March an Anomaly for Westbrook in US Newspapers?

June and November 2016 were also “off” months in the U.S. newspapers segment for Russell Westbrook. It’s difficult to say why, definitively, but those months were well below adjacent periods in that segment. Athlete (and celebrity) coverage tends to be episodic if the individual’s coverage is tied only to on-court/on-screen performance versus off-court storylines. Another area were players pull off-court coverage is on MVP-like storylines, where Westbrook may be overlooked due to the team’s lackluster performance this season. There’s also the question of whether there’s more interest in Durant’s new home with the Warriors and Curry versus Westbrook’s new role as team leader (Durant and Curry’s numbers are well ahead of Westbrook at the topline level, but Westbrook is ahead of both in the online news segment).

Perspective matters

Since mediaQuant measures an additional 4,000+ topics, brands, storylines, celebrities, etc., we can see just how Westbrook is competing with coverage outside the NBA. The March NCAA tournament dominated U.S. metro coverage as many readers are tied into the brackets. Complicating matters in the U.S. metros is, unsurprisingly, the protracted editorial focus on Trump-related storylines, which are hitting the U.S. newspaper segment more heavily than others. Let’s just say, cultivating off-court coverage in this segment is like driving with the parking brake on, possible, but not all that effective.

It’s important to note that our metrics only reflect earned media coverage, i.e., there is no direct link to paid promotional coverage. Our data is updated within 3-5 days of the close of each month with a rolling 4-year historical view of every player in our system, with comparisons to 4,000+ other news topics.

Perspective is everything. Viewing any brand or player’s metrics without the context of the entire media landscape (peer players, team brands, celebrities, political coverage, sport controversies, etc.) is like watching the NBA playoffs with just a few pixels lit on your television set. It’s possible, but you’re really missing the full, nuanced story. mediaQuant can provide both the big-picture and granular view on players, athletes, and brands alike.