In light of my monthly trivia goal being sports related, I thought I would take a look at the role social media has been playing in sports. Use of social media has gotten players in the hot seat, particularly for using it during games. One Texas player faced punishment for using Twitter during halftime and retweeting a fan who told him to transfer. The Clemson football program went so far as to ban its players from using social media during the regular season all together. Which is you ask me is craziness and shouldn’t be allowed but I’ll let someone else handle that constitutional mess.
These events have cause professional sports to crackdown on social media, and not just for players, but also teams. Starting last Wednesday, NFL teams can be fined up to $100,000 for using non-NFL created gifs and videos on social media (the policy began in September). This ban on team created video and live-streaming takes place from kickoff to one hour post-game. On non-game days, teams can only post up to 45 videos (including gifs). After three violations, they may even be barred from posting league created content all together. Understandably, teams and their marketing teams are upset by this new policy. The Carolina Panthers (whose dynamite social media team I highlighted last year) made light of this new policy on Twitter.
So why would the NFL create this new policy? Considering the league signed a deal allowing Twitter to live stream Thursday Night Football earlier this year, many people are asking that question. The NFL says the new policy was put in to place to allow them control over what get disseminated. In essence, they want fans going through their channels to get video content. It’s one way to further control who gets to see what, the same way they black out low-attended games on TV. This policy will theoretically increase the NFL’s social media engagement, web traffic, and digital revenue.
The implications of this policy are yet to be seen. As a social media strategist who works under the 140-character limit already, I can empathize with the way NFL social teams must be feeling. And as a fan, I will miss the seeing a variety of video content on Twitter. So tonight while you’re catching some Thursday Night Football, don’t count on any funny gif commentary from your team.