Poorly Planned Policies and a Shift in Power

As I mentioned in my last post, the NFL has restricted the use of social media and the NBA plans to follow suit. Other leagues, including the SEC and professional tennis, have established similar policies. The SEC’s policy specifically prohibits ticketed fans from posting photo or video content to social media sites during games. I came across a blog post from Brian Kumnick of Tarnished Twenty, a resource on the legal aspects of sports, that outlines three reasons why these social media policies won’t work.

  1. Time has proven that the consumer demand for new technologies is here to stay. Classic examples include television’s competition with TiVo and YouTube and the music industry’s battle with digital downloads.
  2. Players are already using social media and fans appreciate the opportunity for two-way interaction with teams and athletes.
  3. Teams and leagues are privately owned, but ultimately, the fans buy the tickets and the public pays taxes to build new stadiums. Radio host Christian Grantham asks how the SEC’s ban of publishing photo and video content during games is a legal action for the conference to take since the schools in the SEC are publicly funded. Watch the video below for his take on the issue.

These are three valid points, but Kumnick touched on something at the end of his post that really resonated with me because we had covered it in class. The idea that businesses can control their image is a thing of the past; social media have allowed a shift in power from the corporation to the consumer. In a sports sense, this means that the fan now controls the image of a league (or team) and his or her experience as a fan. It seems to me that these leagues’ attempts, the SEC’s in particular, to restrict the use of social media might signal a reluctance to accept consumer control of their brand. What do you think?

2 Responses to “Poorly Planned Policies and a Shift in Power”
  1. Stefan Wisnoski says:

    I understand the reasoning behind the NFL and NBA limiting the use of social media during a game. I even understand restricting the usage prior to and after a game as well. But the SEC policy of prohibiting FANS from posting video or photo’s during a game seems absolutely ridiculous to me.

    1) How on earth can the SEC expect to enforce that kind of rule?
    2) Why does it matter if a fan posts video or photos? You would think the SEC would be THRILLED with all the addition footage and free publicity.
    3) And like you mentioned, is that even LEGAL?

    I realize that the leagues’ are reluctant to allow so much interaction between the fans and the players, but the SEC has taken things to a whole new level. I honestly don’t see anything wrong with the NBA and NFL policies as they are now… But I really hope they don’t start to think like the SEC.

    • Adam Dove says:

      I completely agree, Stefan. As Grantham says in his video, the SEC’s policy was probably created to protect their broadcasting contract with CBS. But I think you have a good point; you would think that FREE publicity online would be a positive thing. If you see an intriguing photo or video from a live game, you would probably be inclined to turn on the TV and watch CBS’ live coverage.

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