A Dec. 2 Twitter Spaces will raise money to benefit the V Foundation, the cancer research organization co-founded by ESPN and the late Jim Valvano. (Photo by Manny Millan/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images)
PHILANTHROPY

ESPN Supports V Foundation with First-ever Ticketed Twitter Space

The special college basketball conversation on Dec. 2 features Jay Bilas, Mike Greenberg, and special guests working together for a good cause.

ESPN will become the first publisher to ever monetize a Twitter Space on Thursday when it hosts a college basketball conversation at 2 p.m — but the motive here is not profit.

Listeners will pay a $0.99 donation to benefit the V Foundation for Cancer Research as part of the network’s V Week to hear Jay Bilas, Seth Greenberg, Mike Greenberg, and special guests to benefit a special cause.

Though Twitter Spaces have been monetized within other industries and subject areas, it will be the first monetized, ticketed Space in the world of sports, and the first-ever ticketed Spaces to also serve as a fundraiser.

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The V Foundation was co-founded in 1993 by ESPN and Jim Valvano, the national champion college basketball coach who succumbed to adenocarcinoma that same year.

“ESPN is always looking for ways to meaningfully connect with its audience, and we’re passionate about supporting the V Foundation for Cancer Research,” said Kaitee Daley, ESPN’s vice president of social media. “Pursuing a Twitter Ticketed Space felt like the perfect merge of social community, social product and social good.”

As Twitter continues to evolve its strategy in native, live audio, including ticketed Spaces to help users profit off their voice, content, time and expertise, the ticketing function is still in its testing phase and is only available in the US to a small group of hosts on iOS and Android, though that’s expected to change over time. The company has formal agreements to broadcast Spaces with the NFL, NBA, NHL, and other major sports leagues and entities.

As part of its V Week initiative, ESPN is using the hashtag #VStrongBaby in honor of legendary college basketball broadcaster Dick Vitale, who is battling cancer himself and notably and emotionally returned to the air last week to call Duke’s win over UCLA in Las Vegas.

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