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‘Twitter Spaces is the perfect medium to bring that casual audio experience to social media’

In advance of Ariel Helwani's "Spaceorama" during UFC Fight Night on ESPN platforms and ABC Saturday afternoon, ESPN Social Media’s Kaitee Daley and Reva Labbe discuss "Spaces"

During Saturday’s UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs. Holland, the second-ever live UFC event on ABC, ESPN MMA Insider Ariel Helwani (in video above) will host his next Twitter Space. His first Space last month drew in tens of thousands of listeners, including surprise participants like fan favorite and UFC No. 5 Middleweight Darren Till.

ESPN Vice President, Social Media, Kaitee Daley and ESPN Senior Social Media Specialist, Reva Labbe, share more details about Twitter Spaces with Front Row.

What attracted you to Spaces?
Daley: We have a great relationship with Twitter and are always experimenting with new ways to serve sports fans. Audio-social activity is on the rise, and we have a strong and engaged audience on the platform. It made sense for us to start testing Spaces and give followers access to conversations that can help deliver a deeper, more nuanced connection to our talent and content.

ESPN VP, Social Media, Katiee Daley
(Melissa Rawlins/ESPN Images)

Why did you decide to test out Spaces with Helwani?
Labbe: Ariel is great at booking guests, and honestly, the Spaces format is perfect for him – he has been fantastic. Ariel is also a leading voice in the MMA community who regularly engages in meaningful and interesting conversations with fighters and fans surrounding MMA events.

Why do you think Spaces is such a good fit for Helwani and his Twitter followers?
Labbe: On a typical UFC PPV weekend, Ariel hosts a three-hour radio show where he invites fighters, fellow journalists, and fans to discuss the fight card. Reimagining that audio conversation through Twitter Spaces felt like a great way to bring that experience to life in a more condensed and casual way.

Ariel has also always respected the MMA social audience as being just as important as his audience on other platforms. When you build that kind of relationship and trust, your followers are far more likely to want to join in and try something new with you.

ESPN Senior Social Media Specialist Reva Labbe (R) works with College GameDay’s Kirk Herbstreit. (Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images)

What stands out to you most about the Spaces with Helwani?
Labbe: The best part of Ariel’s Twitter Spaces experiences so far is how often MMA fighters have jumped into the Space unprompted to join the conversation. The really cool thing about Spaces is that anyone can join at any time, and fighters have seen Ariel live in a Space and joined, sometimes staying for an hour or more talking with Ariel and his other guests.

It is such a unique experience to hear from fighters in this casual way, sometimes even just a few weeks before their next big fight. We have also seen a great listener turnout from Ariel’s Spaces, with thousands of people tuning in each time.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Watch UFC FIGHT NIGHT: VETTORI vs. HOLLAND this Saturday. The main card will be simulcast on ABC, ESPN Deportes, and ESPN+ (English and Spanish) at 3 p.m. ET / 12 p.m. PT. The prelims kick off on ESPN+ at 11:30 a.m. ET and 12 p.m. ET on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and simulcast on ESPN+ (English and Spanish). For more details, visit ESPN Press Room.

(Courtesy Twitter)

Spaces is a new way to have live audio conversations on Twitter. Anyone can join at any time. The creator of a Space is the Host and up to 11 people (including the Host) can speak in a Space at any given time, with no limit on listeners. Anyone can join as a Listener by clicking on Helwani’s Space at the top of their timeline. Listeners will have the option to see live captions by pressing the Show Captions button. Christine Wixted (Senior Partner Manager, Twitter) explains:

How do you set up a Spaces conversation?
Wixted: Creating a Space is as easy as sending a Tweet! To create a Space, you simply long-press compose Tweet and tap the new Spaces icon. From there, you can choose who can speak in your Space — anyone, only people you follow or those you invite to join. You can also invite people to join your Space through DM, Tweeting, or sharing a link elsewhere.

What are some early learnings in terms of engagement with Spaces, and where do you see it going from here?
Wixted: While we’re still in a beta phase, the feedback on Spaces has been overwhelmingly positive. Spaces unlocks conversations on Twitter with the depth and power only the human voice can bring. Given the new way users will now have to be able to connect with fans, the opportunities are endless in the way Spaces will grow and evolve.

– Kristie Adler

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