NHL Bans Use Of Periscope Streaming By Media During Warmups And Intermissions

from the why? dept

Anyone interested in the business of professional sports already knows how important broadcasting rights and revenues are. One needs only look at the insane amount of money generated for Major League Baseball through broadcast contracts to see how lucrative they can be, or the relative indifference the NFL has over the surprising decline of game attendance to see where these leagues think their money is made. The story with the NHL is slightly different, in part because the lucrative television contracts just aren’t there for the league (except in Canada, duh), and in part because if any major sport could benefit from wider distribution to become more lucrative it’s the NHL.

But that doesn’t mean the NHL won’t play the fun-police when it comes to theoretically protecting its product. As some journalists have recently discovered, the league is going so far as to make sure credentialed members of the media aren’t using apps like Periscope and Meerkat during warmups and intermissions. The way these apps work is to allow the user to produce snippets of live-streamed video/audio, perfect for formats like Twitter. Some enterprising media members found interesting ways to use them, such as Yahoo Sports’ Greg Wyshynski.

So the question then became how I could use this technology during coverage. At Game 1 of the New York Rangers’ series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, I did live Periscope intermission coverage. That seemed OK. Some of the other people in the press box that were Periscoping the pregame skate or postgame comments? That seemed a little more dicey, given the NHL’s rules about shooting video at events where big media companies held the broadcast rights.

It seemed like there was a gray area. I can promise you that credentialed media members covering a sport don’t want to do much to hurt the leagues they cover generally, given that’s where their money is made. But you can certainly see useful ways media members could use Periscope and Meerkat to cover games in ways that could only help the league through increased visibility. Commentary and stand-ups during warmups, for instance, or breakdowns from media members in between periods. Those would be quite useful.

The NHL disagrees. Far from seeing any gray area, the league sent notice to media members that using the apps was banned completely.

We have been advised that certain individuals attending NHL games pursuant to credentialed access are streaming live footage from inside NHL arenas before, during and after NHL games using technology offered by companies such as Periscope and Meerkat. As a reminder, NHL media credentials prohibit any “unauthorized use of any transmission, picture or other depiction or description of game action, game information, player interview or other arena activity . . . without prior written approval of” NHL or the team as applicable.Without limiting the generality of the credential language, any streaming of footage in violation of the NHL’s Broadcast Guidelines (including, for example, live streaming inside the arena less than 30 minutes before the start of the game) and Media Access Policy is expressly prohibited.

So live-streaming warmups and intermissions is just as banned as in-game streaming. Why? Well, because some NHL teams are also using those apps and want to retain control. Control of the footage, the message, the information that gets released and the live commentary that might go along with it. Even during times when the NHL’s product is ostensibly not in play, the ban remains in place. And that’s too bad. For a sport and league that I truly love, it would be nice if they could see the opportunity in all of this, if only the league would relinquish just a bit of control. Unfortunately, when it comes to forward-thinking about the consumption of its game, the NHL never seems to miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

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Companies: meerkat, nhl, periscope

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Comments on “NHL Bans Use Of Periscope Streaming By Media During Warmups And Intermissions”

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13 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: How can they stop it?

The NHL doesn’t need to sue. This is hitting “credentialed access”, so if some reporter breaks ranks and uses one of these services the league will likely strip them of access and possibly take a run at the organization that employs them.

They can’t do much about Joe Public using these programs, other than to eject anyone caught in the act. That said, Joe Public generally doesn’t have an audience so the NHL wouldn’t care.

HMTKSteve says:

closed venue

Hockey is a closed venue. It is run for profit and has the authority to control media access. If they would rather have the cash in hand from their media “partners” rather than the free media exposure of… Wait a minute… I almost fell for it.

The big difference here is which way the money is flowing. If the NHL had to pay to be broadcast it would have no qualms about this. However, other corps pay money to the NHL for broadcasting rights. Thus any unpaid broadcasting is not free exposure, instead it is lost revenue because of the direction the money flows.

tqk (profile) says:

Heard the one about the boxing match, where a hockey game broke out?

I’m one of said Canadians. They lost me a couple of decades ago when millionaire players went on strike against billionaire owners, and we suffered through about the next six months listening to the media hand-wringing, “Is there still enough time to salvage the season? If not, will the strike be over before the beginning of next season?” The owners insisted they were just trying to protect fans from rising ticket prices (chyaa, right). The players wailed about how short a typical player’s career was. Well, where did they think Tim Hortons coffee shops came from?

Zzzzzzzzzz …

Beech says:

“Well, because some NHL teams are also using those apps and want to retain control. Control of the footage, the message, the information that gets released and the live commentary that might go along with it.”

Yes, control the message which is being received by a smaller and smaller audience. I mean, it’s not like they’ve had control over the message the whole time already, and driven viewership into the ground. If that had happened, surely they would entrust the message to anyone BUT themselves.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Why are they even there?

NHL media credentials prohibit any “unauthorized use of any transmission, picture or other depiction or description of game action, game information, player interview or other arena activity . . .

This language seems to forbid any reporting whatsoever. In which case, why do the reporters even bother to get credentials and show up in the first place?

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I question your use of the word “journalist” here. They’re sports writers, who very seldom (if ever) report on the sport aspect. They’re head cheerleaders for their local sports franchise. If the local team wins, they cheer on their team with pride of ownership. If they lose, it’s a tragedy and they go looking for culprits; the other team got lucky, or their team had bad luck, or the coach is incompetent, etc.

The same is true of play by play announcers and color commentators, though the latter often being former players themselves are less professional (read “more objective”) about it.

Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

NFL Banks Use of Periscope Streaming

Not sure this is a real problem. Last I heard, live hockey games lost in the ratings to reruns of poker tournaments.

At some point the NHL may want to investigate making itself relevant. But why bother. Surely they can cadge a half-dollar from someone for the right to periscope stream a zamboni scraping the ice during the intermission.

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