Hot takes beware!
That’s because the Twitter account Freezing Cold Takes is always on the prowl to poke fun at the most notable sports journalists in the industry. What started as an innocent and good-hearted way to troll on social media has grown the page to over 402,000 followers and has become a must-follow for any sports fan.
There was never any bad intentions when the account began in November of 2015, and that still holds true today, even though Fred Segal, the brand’s creator, knows a lot of people in the sports media dislike what the page is all about. But that’s ok with him. At the end of the day, managing a page that calls out journalists for being wrong doesn’t even come close to what his most important job is, which is being a dad and dedicating the majority of his time to the day-to-day aspects of parenthood.
“I’m with them 24 hours a day,” Segal said. “As I started to do social media a lot more, I learned a lot about different social media accounts with other companies. I help out other companies with their accounts. They’re businesses, things like that. I’m basically doing a hodgepodge of different things. Before I did this, I was an attorney for eight years, But now I’m a full-time dad.”
The account has grown so much and taken on a life of its own, that Segal is never in short supply of content. That’s because his followers do a lot of the leg work, by constantly tagging him in tweets from notable people that have made a cold take. In the past week, Freezing Cold Takes was even mentioned by Houston Rockets GM Daryl Morey. It’s become normal for big names in sports to help contribute to the account. That’s something Segal never envisioned when he started the account.
As much fun as the account is, which is what it’s intended to be, some journalists don’t find it very entertaining to have their work or takes mentioned on a page where bad takes are opposed. Instead of being a badge of honor, some journalists view it as a cheap and senseless way to poke fun. It’s a tad ridiculous to have that feeling towards the page, however, not everyone is able to find the humor that Segal had when he began Freezing Cold Takes.
For now, not much is going to change with the Twitter page. Cold takes will continue to be exposed and the account will see it’s number of followers rise to over 403,000 in the near future. But Segal doesn’t want to try and grow things too much. To him, that would take away from what makes the account so fun and unique. What does that strategy actually mean? Segal answered that and more during the Q&A.
Tyler McComas: So where did the idea of Old Takes Exposed come from?
Fred Segal: I used to be an avid Twitter user to get all my sports news. When I did this I used to see all the journalists pat themselves on the back when they got something right. I also remember a lot of their tweets and articles turned out to be wrong. I thought about just making an account that trolls journalists and posting when they got something wrong. I didn’t expect it to be what it is, my intention was just to troll them for fun.
I started in November 2015 and it took off pretty quickly. A couple of local video people got a hold of it and it turned into all these people tagging the account. Pretty soon it started to become more of a real-time thing. So if something happened in the news like a coach getting fired, I was working as a lawyer at the time, so I got really good at searches. A lot of the search codes are the same as the legal websites that lawyers use, when a coach got fired, I could look at the date that he was hired and see all the people that were praising him at the time. That type of stuff happened, then Sports Illustrated wrote an article about me. At that point, things blew up to around 5-digit followers. I was around 2,500 at the time and then it blew up to around 15,000 within the next couple of days. From there it really started to get noticed by everybody and started to become well-known. I just kept doing it as a hobby.
TM: How often do you even have to search for content? Is the audience doing most of the work?
FS: It happens a lot. It’s probably 75 percent the content now. I won’t miss it, because if it’s somebody really prominent I’ll get tagged several times right after the tweet is posted. Or if someone tweets out someone’s going to win and they end up losing, I’ll get tagged about 1000 times. But it’s also very annoying to the person who tweeted it. It’s probably why they hate the feed, well, a lot of people don’t like it, and it’s because, anytime they post anything even remotely interesting related to sports that looks predictive, I’ll get tagged 30 times. So there are some people that really hate that. 80% of the stuff I get tagged in, I won’t even post. Some of the stuff doesn’t even apply as a cold take. You really have to wade through all that stuff.
TM: So do you feel like the people getting retweeted view it more as annoying or a badge of honor?
FS: A lot of journalists and TV personalities don’t like it. Being tagged all the time is probably the most annoying thing to them. In terms of getting retweeted, it’s changed over the past few years, it’s more of a badge of honor type thing. I don’t think people get as upset about it as they used to. I think as Twitter has evolved and as the account has evolved, I think people have realized that complaining about people who post when they’re wrong, makes them look really bad. I think people are realizing if they just make fun of themselves, they look a lot better.
There’s a faction of journalists who feel they do really important work and are putting themselves out there, writing articles that are useful to the media and the public to understand what’s going on. And then there’s people like me, who just post old takes. It’s just a personality with some people, they’ll never reconcile with it being fun. They’re very serious about their work. That’s what I get with some people and they call me useless (laughs).
TM: Who do you feel like your audience has the most fun picking on?
FS: Skip Bayless, Colin Cowherd, Doug Gottlieb, those guys are always getting tagged almost instantaneously after every post. They have a big following and they’re very high-profile in the sports media industry. Also, they tend to put themselves out there.
This is especially true for Colin Cowherd, because anything he says that is remotely provocative or predictive, a clip of it gets posted on the Fox Sports social media page. He may have 4 or 5 a day, so he’s going to get tagged a lot more, as opposed to a local radio host who says the same thing as Cowherd, but doesn’t have the same type of social media bandwidth.
TM: What’s the future for Freezing Cold Takes?
FS: It’s a niche and I’m not sure how much more it can expand, without ruining it. I think a lot of people have a lot of different ideas on what we can do with it, but I think that it might not be necessarily good to continue to expand, because if you continue to do more, it kind of ruins it. Personally, I’m happy where I’m at and parlayed this into a lot of different kinds of things. As long as I can continue that, I’m just going to continue to do Freezing Cold Takes as it is. I really don’t want to mess with things too much.
TM: Have you ever met any of the sports media personalities you continually retweet? If so, was that awkward?
FS: No, I’ve really never met any of them in person. I don’t really go anywhere. I’m with my family in south Florida and I’m not a part of the media. I also think not being in the media is why the account really works. I don’t know a lot of people in the media. I have relationships with a few, but not very many. With that being the case, it doesn’t affect my relationship with anybody. I’m just a regular guy with a family.
Grant Cohn’s Trolling of Players is Unacceptable
After an altercation between Javon Kinlaw of the San Francisco 49ers and Grant Cohn, it became clear that Kinlaw was being trolled by a member of the media.
Grant Cohn is a media member who writes for the FanNation 49ers blog on SI.com. He also talks about the team on his YouTube channel, which has over 48,000 subscribers as of noon Thursday. His father, Lowell, was a longtime columnist in the Bay Area.
Javon Kinlaw is a defensive lineman, whom the San Francisco 49ers drafted in the first round despite concerns about the durability of his knee. He played four games last season, his second in the league.
The two were involved in two confrontations this week. The first one occurred off to the side of the 49ers’ practice field. Kinlaw apparently cursed at Cohn and knocked his hat from atop his head. Later in the day, Kinlaw again swore at Cohn, this time after joining a live stream on Cohn’s YouTube channel. (Side note: I have never felt so freaking old as I did while typing that previous sentence.)
OK. That’s my attempt at an absolutely straightforward and objective summary of a situation that scares the hell out of me. Not because a player was mad at a member of the media. I’ve had it happen to me and I’ve seen it happen to others. It’s my opinion that this has been happening for as long as human beings have scrutinized the athletic efforts of other human beings.
What scared me was that I was seeing some version of the future of sports media. A future in which media members behaved like YouTube trolls, acting purposely ridiculous or antagonistic to initiate conflicts that could be turned into more conflicts that would could be gleefully recounted as content for the audience. I thought that because that’s pretty much what Cohn did:https://youtu.be/4Hf9sjBttFY
Cohn essentially bragged about the number of different things he said that may have prompted Kinlaw’s reaction, and you know what? It worked. Kinlaw got mad. He confronted Cohn. Twice. TMZ published a story about it. So did SFGate.com.
This is troll behavior. You know, the online pests who say or do something intended to provoke a reaction, and once they get that reaction, they recount and scrutinize that reaction with an eye toward triggering another reaction. Lather, rinse repeat. Increasingly, entire online media ecosystems consist of nothing more than people who don’t like each other talking about how much they don’t like one another.
I’m not going to pretend this is entirely new in sports media. Sports columnists have been known to make reputations with their willingness to be critical of the home team. A huge part of Skip Bayless’ brand is his unwavering insistence on highlighting Lebron James’ perceived flaws. Stephen A. Smith has engaged in public feuds with players, namely Kevin Durant.
I do see a difference between this and what Cohn did, though. The reaction Bayless and Smith are primarily concerned with is from their audience, not their subjects. The subjects may get mad, but that’s not the primary goal. At least I hope it’s not.
What happens if that is the primary goal? What if someone is offering opinions not because it’s what they really think, but because they want to provoke a response from the subject? Media careers have been built on less.
I don’t know if that’s the case with Cohn. I’ve never talked to him in my life, and even if I had, it’s impossible to know someone’s true intent. But in listening to everything he said AFTER the initial confrontation with Kinlaw, I’m not willing to assume that Cohn was operating in good faith. Here’s how Cohn described the initial confrontation with Kinlaw, which occurred as practice was beginning.
“In the training room, I saw Javon Kinlaw, who is the king of the training room,” Cohn said. “He’s usually in the training room.”
Cohn said the two locked eyes, but were separated by about 70 yards at the time. Kinlaw then walked across the field to where the reporters were gathered. He stood directly behind Cohn.
“So I turn, and I say, ‘Wassup, Mook Dawg?’ “ Cohn said, referencing the nickname on Kinlaw’s Instagram account. “And he doesn’t say anything. And I say, ‘Why are you looking at me like that, Javon?’ “
“And then he said, ‘What are you going to do about it you bitch-ass,’ and then he said one more word that I can’t say,” Cohn said. “And then I turned to face him, and I said, ‘Oh, it’s like that?’ And he said, ‘Yeah, it’s like that.’ And then he knocked the hat off my head.”
OK. Pause. In my experience, when your job is to publicly describe and critique the performance and attitudes of professional athletes, there will be times in which the athletes do not care for your description or your critique. Some of those who are displeased will make their objections known to you.
However, there are two things that are unusual here: First, the fact Kinlaw knocked the hat off Cohn’s head, which is unacceptable. Second, Cohn then posted a video on YouTube to not only talk about what had happened, but state he had been so critical of Kinlaw for so long he wasn’t sure what specifically sparked Kinlaw’s anger.
“Javon, what are you upset about?” Cohn asked toward the end of his video. “Is it the fact that I said you have an 80-year-old knee? Is it the fact that I said that you’re a terrible pass rusher and you’re just a two-down player? Is it the fact that I said the Niners shouldn’t have drafted you and should have taken Tristan Wirfs instead. Is it the fact that I said that you’re unprofessional and immature.
“It escapes me, which of the hundred negative things I’ve said about Javon Kinlaw the last couple of years, moved him to approach me in such a way, but you know what, I applaud Javon Kinlaw for coming to speak to me directly, and I ask you, what do you think Javon Kinlaw is mad about.”
Cohn was trolling Kinlaw. No other word for it.
That night, Cohn was conducting a live stream on YouTube, which Kinlaw joined, while apparently eating dinner, to make declarative statements about the size of Cohn’s genitalia — among other things.
Neither one looked particularly impressive. Not Kinlaw, who was profane and combative with a member of the media, at one point making a not-so-subtle threat. Not Cohn, who asked Kinlaw, “Do you think I’m scared of you, Javon?” He also said, “I don’t even know why you’re mad, Javon.”
I think Kinlaw would have been better off ignoring Cohn. If I was Kinlaw’s employer, I would probably prefer he not log into video livestreams to make testicular comparisons. But honestly, I don’t care about what Kinlaw did. At all. He’s not on a team I root for. He didn’t physically harm anyone. He used some bad words in public.
I am bothered not just by Cohn’s actions, but by some of the reactions to them because of what I think this type of behavior will do to an industry I have worked in for 25 years. Credentialed media members who behave like Cohn did this week make it harder for other media members who are acting in good faith. Preserving access for people like him diminishes what that access will provide for those who aren’t trying to use criticism to create conflict that will become content.
I think Cohn knew what he was doing. In his livestream, before Kinlaw joined, Cohn stated he was not scared because he knew — by virtue of his father’s history in the business — that if Kinlaw had touched him he would potentially be entitled monetary compensation.
By now, it should be pretty apparent how problematic this whole thing is and yet on Thursday, a number of 49ers fans online were sticking up for Cohn as just doing his job. Dieter Kurtenbach, a Bay Area columnist, Tweeted: “Javon Kinlaw does not know that @GrantCohn was built for this.” Built for what? Winning Internet fights? Kurtenbach also deleted a Tweet in which he called Kinlaw “soft.”
Cohn’s father, Lowell, is a former columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle and Santa Rosa Press-Democrat. He promoted the first video his son made on Tuesday:
Sorry, I don’t find it funny because it’s another step down a path in which media members seek reactions at the expense of information. Where they look to make fun of players instead of learning about them. They’ll stop acting like journalists and start acting like the trolls who make their money by instigating a conflict, which they then film: “Jake Paul, reporting live from 49ers practice …”
If that’s the case, thank God I’m about to age out of this business, entirely. I’m 47 years old and I can’t believe there’s anyone in our industry who thinks what Cohn did this week is acceptable.
Media Noise – Episode 75
A new episode of Media Noise is all about reaction. Demetri reacts to the ManningCast’s big win at the Sports Emmys. Danny O’Neil reacts to people reacting to Colin Kaepernick’s workout in Las Vegas and Andy Masur reacts to John Skipper’s comments about Charles Barkley.
Bron Heussenstamm Blends Bleav Podcasts Advertising with SiriusXM
Bron Heussenstamm, the CEO of the Bleav Podcast Network says blending podcasting advertising with satellite radio’s reach is a victory for both sides.
Last week, the Bleav (pronounced believe) Podcast Network announced a deal with SiriusXM to make all 32 NFL team-specific Bleav pods available on the SXM app. SXM can also air Bleav content on any of its sports channels. Each NFL Bleav show pairs a former player with a host to discuss team issues. Eric Davis, Lorenzo Neal, and Pac-Man Jones are amongst the former players Bleav has signed as talent.
I have hosted a Bleav podcast about Boise State football -the Kingdom of POD. I am usually provided 1-3 advertisers per episode by the network and get paid by the download. My subject matter is regional, so my take-home pay is usually under four figures. I have enjoyed the technical assistance and cross-promotion I receive and I enjoyed meeting Bleav CEO Bron Heussenstamm. Bron is Los Angeles-based, a USC graduate, and founded Bleav in 2018. We discussed the SXM deal, podcast advertising, and the future.
Will the podcast advertisers be carried on the SXM distribution platform?
Yes, Bleav baked-in advertisements and hosts read ads are distributed across all platforms. This enables the host to do their show once through, making it as easy as possible for the hosts and consistent for the advertisers.
How is advertising on Bleav different?
We want to be more than a ‘host read ad’ or a ‘digital insert’ with our advertising partners. When companies work with Bleav shows and talent, those companies can receive our omnichannel of distribution points—podcast platforms, YouTube, socials, streamers, TV, radio, and more. This allows for consistent branding across all platforms: great talent presenting great companies to fans and consumers no matter where they consume content.
What is the growth pattern for podcasts that you see?
The industry trades have presented 400%-800% percent growth over the next ten years. Once the COVID fog lifted, we really saw these gains. Sports are always going to be at the forefront of culture. The increases in all sports sectors have certainly carried into the digital space.
SXM has started with NFL shows but can also air more Bleav content – what does that look like?
We’ve started with our NFL network of 32 team shows hosted by a former player. We’ve kept the door open for our NCAAB, NCAAF, MLB, NHL, Basketball, and Soccer networks. We’re happy for our hosts to be part of such a tremendous company and platform. SiriusXM can continue to amplify its voice and give fans the access and insight only a player can provide.
The Interactive Advertising Bureau-IAB- says podcast revenue grew 72% last year to $1.4B and is expected to grow to $2B this year and double to $4B by 2024. Have you seen similar growth? What is driving the industry now, and what will be the primary cause of growth by 2024?
There is a myriad of reasons for the growth. I‘ll lean into a couple.
At Bleav, we launch and maximize the digital arm of industry leaders. The technology upgrades to allow hosts to have a world-class show — simulcast in both audio and video – from their home has led to an explosion of content. With this, the level of content creators has risen. Having a YouTube, RSS feed, podcast, and more is now part of the brand, right alongside Twitter and Instagram.
If a company wants to advertise on Bleav in Chargers, we know exactly how many people heard Lorenzo Neal endorse their product. We can also safely assume they like the Chargers. The tracking of demo specifics for companies is huge. It’s a fantastic medium to present products to the right fans and consumers.