Sports Properties Should Embrace, not Fight, Social Media

The National Football League has issued a policy against live blogging of game accounts. The policy bears some similarity to one issued by the Southeastern Conference concerning the use of social media at its sporting events. The aim is to prohibit transmission of game accounts, presumably to protect the massive investments of broadcast partners. Both the NFL and SEC have multi-billion dollar media rights agreements with traditional mass media partners. The no-social media policy appears to be an effort to thwart parties without financial stakes from becoming an information provider.

The policies of the NFL and SEC reveal a significant gap in understanding of the role and power of social media. Instead of going out of its way to ban social media, sports properties should be exploring options for greater integration of social media. A blogger posting game updates will not supplant a live broadcast on TV or radio, but it could drive traffic to broadcasts. Sports properties should view social media coverage of their events as free exposure, reaching consumers who may be best reached through social media. In particular, social media usage skews toward younger age groups. Young people are a challenge for sports marketers to attract. Why not meet them where they are and allow, if not encourage, social media distribution of information?

I am all for protecting the interests of business partners. Sports properties recognize that ambushing takes place whereby companies or brands that have not made investments as "official" partners try to benefit from an indirect association with a property. Social media usage does not seem to fit in the same category, however. In an open-source world, media and sports entertainment partners should make maximizing exposure a priority, and if other parties can help create that exposure, so be it.

Daily Online Examiner - "NFL Fumbles, Tries to Limit Live Blogging of Games"

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