Periscope is giving fans a new way to watch sports, presenting a problem for the networks broadcasting the games.
In the brave new world of sports programming that is sending shudders through some professional leagues and major networks, fans can watch a live stream of a game-winning home run, a slapshot in the closing seconds of an NHL game, or, as was the case this past weekend, catch all 12 rounds of the Manny Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. bout, without having to fork over a dime in Pay-Per-View fees.
Welcome to the current social media rave where apps like Periscope and Meerkat allow viewers to access live video streaming provided by amateur videographers or credentialed media members at sporting events. In some cases, the providers of the content might do nothing more than live stream a game or match straight from their television screens.
“This is a concern for our business overall,” said a network industry source. “It’s a concern for every grip, every lighting director, all the way up to the CEO of the company. This could be a Napster-type of thing. It’s going to evolve. It’s troubling, because you don’t know where it’s going to go.”
Napster was the online service created in 1999 which allowed people to share copyrighted audio files. An injunction was issued two years later that shut down the service.
The greater challenge with apps like Periscope, however, is trying to police thousands and perhaps millions of people from streaming live footage of games. One network insider said that for now, ABC, NBC, CBS and other big companies might not be too concerned about the Periscope craze since networks are able to provide a far superior product.
“Periscope is really a non-issue. With the networks, you’re offering content for free, and it’s a better distribution system,” said the insider. “Your television coverage will almost certainly be better than somebody providing something on Periscope or Meerkat.”
Prior to the NHL playoffs, deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly issued a statement advising teams to be aware of credentialed media members live streaming inside NHL arenas.
“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,” Daly’s statement read.
The NBA prohibits media members from live streaming anything other than press conferences. An NFL media spokesperson said that the Meerkat and Periscope apps are being monitored to determine how they might impact the most lucrative sport on TV.
“We’ll spend some time this off-season evaluating the technology and how it applies to us and continue to closely monitor how the industry and how other sports leagues are handling them,” said the spokesperson.
For fans attending games and events, ticket stubs generally advise the holder of rules and restrictions.
“The ticket holder may not transmit or aid in transmitting any photographs, images, videos, or other accounts or descriptions (whether text, data, or visual) in any media of all or any part of the football game or related events,” reads the back of an NFL ticket. “Transmission or other distribution by, to, or for any commercial enterprise, and any public performance or display, direct or indirect, are also strictly prohibited.”
But enforcing those rules may now be a new level of difficult, when there is the means to immediately stream the next sensational Odell Beckham Jr. catch or several of Matt Harvey’s sizzling fastballs.
“It’s one thing if a fan is grabbing a couple seconds of video during a key moment from his/her seat at the ballpark, but the reality is someone owns those broadcasting rights,” said a baseball source. “Any live transmission from within that ball park violates the ticket-back rules.
“Those are intellectual properties; someone has paid for rights to exclusively broadcast from those games. It’s one thing for a fan to video a singular moment — a walk-off home run. It’s another thing if people are sitting there and broadcasting from a game and using it as a destination for people to go and view it.”
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