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.
- 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.
- Players are already using social media and fans appreciate the opportunity for two-way interaction with teams and athletes.
- 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?