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.