NFL players were told a few weeks ago not to Twitter during games and threatened with fines if they do. But the NFL made it official today by sending out a memo outlining the rules.
The memo reminded teams that social networking communications like Facebook updates and Tweets are banned during its games, as well as for a period of 90 minutes before and after games. Outside of those limitations, one can Tweet as much as one likes, according to the policy.
The NFL’s explanation:
“While a game is in progress, any forms of accounts of the game must be sufficiently time-delayed and limited in amount (e.g., score updates with detail given only in quarterly game updates) so that the accredited organisation’s game coverage cannot be used as a substitute for, or otherwise approximate, authorised play-by-play accounts.”
Many consumers of Twitter, Facebook, etc. will find this ridiculous. But it might make make business sense. The NFL is a valuable and powerful franchise and any competing source of its proprietary information and content is a potential threat — especially from NFL employees, such as players.
So the league might as well try nipping it in the bud early on before consumers get used to the services and cry foul when they are taken away.
But extending the limitations to agents, managers, and the press during games? That’s going a bit too far.
Many reporters do tweet some form of communication and game updates to their audience, which consumers find useful and could even increase viewership. (If someone sees that a game is interesting by reading a tweet, for example.) In addition, it’s a stretch to say that communication like tweeting an occasional update somehow threatens live media broadcasts which report play-by-play coverage.
Check out Boston Globe reporter Amalie Benjamin’s Twitter feed, which she uses during Red Sox games to send occasional updates. While they add colour and texture, it’s hard to believe Red Sox fans would turn off their TV sets or radios to exclusively tune into Amalie’s Twitter updates. Same would go for a football commentator tweeting reaction during a game.
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