It was announced last week in a memo from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly that “any violation of the NHL’s Broadcast Guidelines and Media Access Policy is expressly prohibited”, which rules out any live-streaming inside the arena less than 30 minutes before the start of the game, officially banning both Periscope and Meerkat apps.
Periscope and Meerkat, if you’ve been under the proverbial digital-rock the past couple of months, are apps that allow users to live-stream directly onto Twitter from their device – a recent notable example of their use include @BVB Periscoping their press conference announcing Jürgen Klopp’s departure from the club at the end of the Bundesliga season. It’s given rights holders a new way to interact with fans, and a new ‘behind-the-scenes’ perspective as it happens.
So why might the NHL have banned all fans from using these new apps? Well for one their use could potentially breach the broadcaster’s big-money contracts who signed the rights to footage. Also, with the banning of these apps, they’ve made sure the potential for future branding is left well and truly open. Why? With rink-side broadcasts of warm-ups and interviews live on Twitter, exclusivity is key. And it has a lot of potential! Through the use of the NHL’s own Periscope account, which already has over 22,000 followers, the door is open to partner up with Twitter in a manner similar to other US sports on digital recently.
Although fans would be able to offer a different perspective on the action, it would be impossible to monitor every stream, never mind editing and combining them with official streams live. It’s the same reason fans’ Vine’s are removed from accounts soon after they’ve posted content that breaches broadcast rights – only the NHL have realised they’ll have a much easier job of removing content if it’s nipped in the bud from the outset.
Using fan-generated content is a great tool to grow global reach and improve overall engagement. By allowing fans that can’t be at the game to experience the buzz of the stadium at home, it encourages them to make the leap to be there at future matches so they don’t miss out.
But – and it’s a big but! – while fan-generated content is great and all, the opportunity of exclusivity far outweighs the sentiment garnered by allowing the apps to be used. The big question now is whether other rights holders will follow the NHL’s approach, or have they set a standard no-one else will believe in?
Callum MacGregor is Sports Marketing Assistant for Winners FDD. You can follow him at @CmacCRM and on LinkedIn. Winners FDD are on Twitter at @WinnersCRM, and also run the biggest CRM and business intelligence group on LinkedIn.