Technology as Part of the Game

At the NY:MIEG breakfast on sports earlier this week, the NFL VP for media Glenn Adamo reacted to an AOL sports blog manager's call for release of more video for longer (NFL rules limit it to 45-second clips for no more than 24 hours) with a few reasons for the NFL restrictions, including:

- wants the inbound traffic, and there's tons of stuff for fans there. They don't want the traffic dispersed on a million other blogs and sites that haven't paid for rights.
- Fox and others paid many millions (altogether more than a billion, I believe) for rights, and it wouldn't be right to let just anyone get clips and use them at will. Adamo referred at one point to clearing the sidelines of the 35-40 camera crews who amassed for some games for local news and other broadcasts, because it was getting out of hand..
- They don't want to show too much – especially live – because they don’t want to sway the game.

Interesting point, considering a day later we had the New England Patriots paying a big price for videotaping signals from opponents during a game. Adamo also talked about a former Jets coach who complained mightily about an NFL broadcast that replayed a mic'd coach talking about a play by its code ("XYZ 123" or somesuch) and then showing the play being run for a touchdown. The coach complained, Adamo said, that he now had to change the play because everyone in the NFL now knew what it was.

But is restricting the flow really the best technique in an omnipresent media age? Think of the hassle of policing every possible shot, all the different ways someone can gather and disseminate video and audio. If the Patriots got caught, how many others are doing similar things but being more crafty?

Why not let media be part of the game? If you know your opponents are going to try to steal signals, you might fake them out with fake ones. In baseball, catchers change their hand signals when there's a runner behind the pitcher on second base, and coaches consistently throw in fake instructions to batters with hand signals. Why not let the fans get more involved, let more video flow, generate more excitement, strategy, fantasy football, games and the like? Imagine all the moves that could be made. And with that involvement would come, potentially, more audience and more advertising dollars, more promotional opportunities. I realize I may be out of my league, here, and intend to talk to Adamo and others about this for a column I'm writing for Jack Myers Media Business report. But it's a thought.

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