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Jeter Breaks Ankle, Twitter Delivers Eyeballs

Tickers in this article: FB TWX NWSA CMCSA BCE RCI MSG
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- When Twitter goes public, I want shares. In the highly likely event I can't get any, I'll probably buy the stock anyway. I might even break my own rule, buying an IPO out of the gate on its first day of trading.

Back in the day -- we're talking a decade ago -- I was fanatical about football and baseball.

The obsessions faded fast when I stopped doing sports radio. It's to the point where I have not watched more than an hour of the last 10 year's worth of Super Bowls combined.

Over the last few weeks, however, Twitter has compelled me to stop what I was doing to turn on major sports.

A couple of weeks ago it was the replacement referees' blown call in the Green Bay Packers game. Twitter exploded. I turned on ESPN's "Sportscenter," helping make it the highest rated edition of the program ever.

On vacation over the weekend, while reading a book, I grabbed my phone to check Twitter. It had blown up. Everybody was Tweeting about Raul Ibanez's home run to tie the Yankees-Tigers game at four in the bottom of the ninth.

I stopped reading. Turned on the game. I fell asleep before it ended. In the middle of the night, I checked Twitter again. Something had happened to Derek Jeter. The TV was on. I flipped over to ESPN.

Without Twitter, I never would have paid attention to, let alone turned on the television to get sports news or watch a game.

You can argue that Twitter does not drive these responses. That Twitter just happens to be the modern-day platform for word-of-mouth advertising.

Simple enough, but likely too simple.

The sister of Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Randi, who recently left the company to start Zuckerberg Media said it best in a CNBC interview .

"There's really something special going on . . . between integration of traditional television and online."

Straightforward yes, but quite insightful.

I'm as guilty as the next person. Often, I fall into the trap of online will kill this or that medium, be it radio, television or print. In some respects, it will. Disruption, however, does not have to lead to extinction. But it should incite change. Television, in particular, can not only coexist with online; the two can partner with one another.

That's what Randi Zuckerberg told CNBC, pointing out that, despite social media's size, "the eyeballs" are still on television sets. In fact, our eyeballs increasingly multi-task as we move from mobile devices and computers to TVs. Often, there's no moving taking place -- somehow, we pay attention to multiple screens concurrently.

Word of mouth via modern channels doesn't sufficiently explain the symbiotic relationship between new/social media and the old guard.