To Combat Dropping Ratings, The NFL Thinks Fining Its Teams For Sharing Video On Social Media Is The Answer

from the no-it-isn't dept

It's been a time of remarkable progress of late when it comes to professional sports organizations being smart about how to pursue viewers in this here digital era. Major athletic institutions are finally opening up the door to wider streaming options, putting aside the doomsayers. Add to that that other leagues are starting to realize what a boon Major League Baseball's Advanced Media product has been to viewership and attendance and it seemed like we were on the precipice of a golden age in digital sports media.

Leave it to the NFL to ensure that we take at least one step backwards. What once seemed like a never ending funnel of money and upward trending viewership, the NFL has undergone something of a ratings correction as of late. It seems that amidst the controversy over head injury, bad officiating, the contraction of one-day fantasy football, and what some think is a generally declining quality of the on-field product, less people are watching games, both in person and on television. This had to happen at some point, if for no other reason than because NFL ratings over the past 2 decades were completely boffo. But the NFL's choice to combat this inevitable decline takes a page from the days we finally just got over.

We’ve obtained a memo that went out to all 32 teams reflecting that, starting Oct. 12, clubs are subject to a new fine schedule for exceeding the limits on video and any moving content. Those are particularly strict during the 60 minutes leading up to games, and through games, with clubs largely limited to re-posting from the NFL’s own accounts (with some allowance for approved content on Snapchat). The memo says that first-time offenders will be fined up to $25,000, a second offense will warrant a fine of up to $50,000, and a third offense will merit a fine of up to $100,000 and loss of rights to post league-controlled content.

This is flat out dumb for a number of reasons. To start, a top-down control over how teams choose to market their product breeds rigidity. Rules applied both to a market like New York and Green Bay are going to be flawed almost by definition, as those markets are completely different and the tactics needed to attract fans simply aren't the same.

But the larger idea of blacking out or setting limits on social media video content as a way to increase viewership is both a misunderstanding of how such content is viewed and shared, as well as a misunderstanding as to its wider effects on audience numbers. Simply nobody is watching highlights of video on an NFL team's social media account in lieu of watching the game live. That isn't the point of those highlights. Rather, the point is to attract, through the sharing of the video, new viewers who perhaps weren't initially interested in watching the game.

It's what makes MLBAM so powerful. I'm not perusing Twitter to get my live game action, but I sure as hell will switch over to a game in progress, or one upcoming, should some video content give me a compelling reason, whether it's a pitcher throwing a no-hitter, a batter one hit away from the cycle, or some on-field altercation that ratchets up the intensity level. I'm a baseball fan; I live for that stuff. And having a team try to lure me to their broadcast, which I can likewise access via the excellent MLB.tv service, is a brilliant piece of marketing.

Marketing that the NFL, normally smart in its business practices, has decided to forego. Television blackouts of old have become social media blackouts today, and for no good reason.


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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Oct 2016 @ 3:02pm

    We've always made our money selling ice for ice boxes, and none of you fuckers better even look at one of them new fangled freezers.

    Perhaps the NFL should detonate its front office, as they have declared war on players connecting with fans... which might explain why more people aren't giving a fuck and are actively trying to fight paying to build them arenas.

    Multi-Billion dollar company declares war on reality... why not ask the **AA's how well that is working.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 12 Oct 2016 @ 10:09am

      Re:

      Closer to home, they could ask Dollar Bill Wirtz how well that worked for the Chicago Blackhawks.

      He shut down every possible way of watching or hearing about the team using blackouts and blocking websites.

      The fans hated him so much, that when they announced his death there was a standing ovation.

      His son Rocky took over and undid all that stuff and put the Blackhawks out there as much as possible. Since then, they've sold out hundreds of straight games and won 3 Stanley Cups.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    JustMyOpinion, 11 Oct 2016 @ 3:23pm

    Personal View

    The NFL has time and time again shown that it is a CORPORATE entity which stifles local football fans from showing their support of local teams.

    They seemingly gouge fans, fan sites and actual teams for not following the corporate line.

    They appear to limit streams, broadcasts including their OWN games from back in the 70's.

    Football AKA the NFL, isn't about the sport, isn't about the fans, it's about putting money in the pocket of owners and shareholders of the NFL brand.

    Growing up, football was about community. Today football represents EVERYTHING wrong with the "free market" that doesn't represent community.

    No thanks NFL, I stopped watching a long long time ago.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 11 Oct 2016 @ 9:12pm

      Re: Personal View

      Yeah, I quit watching years ago. Even the Superbowl. You can find the good ads on YouTube, and that was the only reason to watch the SB lately. Now there's no reason to watch at all.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2016 @ 5:01am

      Re: Personal View

      "Today football represents EVERYTHING wrong with the "free market" that doesn't represent community."

      It is a good example of the free market and what most corporations strive for. If you leave children in charge of the cookie jar .......

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JBDragon (profile), 12 Oct 2016 @ 9:00am

      Re: Personal View

      I'm not a big sports person so I don't watch a whole lot. but I'm a 49 fan, but I haven't watched a single game this year. That's because of Colin Kaepernick and his getting down on one knee B.S. If you're going to bring that crap to the game, I'm not going to watch the game. You get paid big bucks to play the game because of this country. What he does on his free time, I don't care.

      Since it's been spreading, I haven't watch a single sports thing of anything. I have better things to do.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 11 Oct 2016 @ 3:29pm

    Problem=Opportunity

    With so much knowledge about the potential as well as strategies to turn problems into opportunities that are around, it is amazing that likely highly trained MBA's in the NFL's front office spend their time digging holes instead of optimizing the results of a problem in their favor. As TAC said above, they sure aren't the only ones.

    Are our business schools failing their students? Is it too easy to get an MBA and dolts are out flogging their diplomas? Is the old school still in charge and totally disbelieving of the possibility that opportunity is possible out of problems? Is there such a thing as too old to learn, or are they being blinded by egotism? Or is it because the marry-go-round is still spinning and cannot fathom why it is slowing down?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Oct 2016 @ 3:30pm

    But Blackout is the answer to anything

    But blacking out local games if they aren't sold out increased viewership at the stadiums to the point that they are always sold out.

    Blacking out network access for channels that aren't local did so much for viewership that now the local channels all have full time football viewership numbers.

    So obviously blacking out social media will result in sellout crowds at all the stadiums.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), 11 Oct 2016 @ 3:54pm

    Those in charge of this are showing the public they are mentally ill. "if we cannot control it, we will do our best to destroy it"

    Look how well that went for the olympics in that most people just didn't bother to associate or watch them after being told they had to pay off the IOC to celebrate anything that should be free.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Oct 2016 @ 4:14pm

    iF YOU DESTROY IT, THEY WON'T COME

    I think someone misinterpreted the message and heard:

    IF YOU DESTROY IT, THEY WILL COME!!!

    And away they go destroying everything they can get their hands on.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Oct 2016 @ 5:26pm

    They still are making heaps of dough and yet refuse to pay their cheerleaders minimum wage, much less a living wage.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Oct 2016 @ 5:27pm

    Too Easy. NFL wages war on social media. NFL loses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Oct 2016 @ 5:53pm

    NFL?

    I quit watching sports when the cost of season tickets was more than my car payment. Simple math. Now I don't have a care which team wins and which looses and I don't have to watch a string of ads that is interrupted by a game.

    So what if the NFL doesn't learn. They are already irrelevant.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Oct 2016 @ 6:05pm

    The fines aren't to combat falling ratings. The fines are to combat falling revenue from the loss of the ratings.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Patrick, 11 Oct 2016 @ 6:10pm

    They are headed down the road to irrelevance,and now they just put their foot their foot down on the accelerator....

    *golf claps

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Oct 2016 @ 7:06pm

    The product IS getting worse

    - constant tinkering with the rules
    - rampant injuries
    - broadcasters often clueless
    - commercials commercials commercials
    - inconsistent discipline
    - usurious pricing
    - Thursday games show player safety unimportant
    - London games a gimmick

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      freakanatcha, 11 Oct 2016 @ 7:38pm

      Re: The product IS getting worse

      Don't forget moving franchises and gouging taxpayers for $700+ million a pop for new stadiums.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Oct 2016 @ 9:02pm

    FTNFL and FESPN also. Haven't been a fan since the 90's. Just a bunch of corporate shills waving their privates at the fans and being greedy with their brands. No love for the game works both ways. Take your privilege and stick it up our arse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Go5 (profile), 11 Oct 2016 @ 11:03pm

    Which logo won the sportsbowl this year? I forgot to care.

    I think my grandpa still roots for the AggressiveAnimals™, or maybe it's the RegionalStereotypes©, but that's mostly because they help him nap all weekend.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 11 Oct 2016 @ 11:18pm

    Mike Masnick just hates it when copyright law is enforced.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Oct 2016 @ 2:14am

    Reminds me of rule three in Brockian Ultra-Cricket

    Rule Three: Put your team and the opposing team in a large field and build a high wall round them.

    The reason for this is that, though the game is a major spectator sport, the frustration experienced by the audience at not actually being able to see what's going on leads them to imagine that it's a lot more exciting than it actually is. A crowd that has just watched a rather humdrum game experiences far less life-affirmation than a crowd that believes it has just missed the most dramatic event in sporting history.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joe P, 12 Oct 2016 @ 5:12am

    NFL ratings

    The NFL has tried to steer traffic to the NFL network and to ESPN in the early stages of trying to charge more for their games. Part of the ratings decline is people not wanting to move to pay channels instead of network TV.

    I will not get a more expensive cable package just to watch all the games. I will watch something else and give up on football before I pay more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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