The NFL just announced a new social media policy that is about as anti-fan friendly as it gets.
According to league memos obtained by ESPN, the league’s social media policy (which takes effect tomorrow) effectively bans all video-based social media during games.
First, it restricts them from going live on apps like Facebook Live or Periscope during or after the game. Previously, teams have gone live to share behind-the-scenes experiences with fans, but this will no longer be allowed.
Perhaps more importantly, teams will also be banned from posting highlights of the game (either videos or GIFs) from kickoff until 60 minutes after a game ends.
The NFL’s official account will still post select video highlights during games, which teams are allowed to retweet or repost.
Violations will come with steep fines — $25,000 for a first offense, $50,000 for a second and $100,000 for a third.
So what does this look like?
Last night when the Panthers scored a touchdown they posted this:
While the NFL’s official account was able to post this:
Which do you think is more captivating to fans? And sure, while the Panthers could just retweet the NFL’s video, this won’t always be the case.
Last night there was only one game, so the NFL’s social media team could essentially post real-time video highlights for every play. But what happens on Sunday when there are seven games going on at once? Will the NFL have the bandwidth to capture every single highlight that teams want to share, and be able to do it fast enough that the teams can reshare it while it is still relevant?
A losing bet
These rules come at a time during the season when NFL viewership is down 14 percent from last year. Some blame this on the distracting presidential election, some blame it on NFL stars being hurt or suspended and I have blamed it on boring matchups and poor performances during the first five weeks.
So at a time when viewership is down, this is absolutely the worst policy for the NFL to adopt. The league wants to eliminate video shares so people can only watch the game on TV, but don’t they understand that social media drives viewership? People turn on the TV because they see an awesome, real-time highlight on Twitter that gets them excited about the game.
Want proof? Last season NBA viewership was up 10 percent. And the NBA has been extremely liberal and innovative in their social media strategy, essentially letting teams post whatever highlights they want. The result is a deluge of GIFs, Vines and video highlights that remind you there is an exciting NBA game on TV that you should watch right now.
The policy goes into effect tomorrow, and should make for an extra boring Football Sunday this weekend — at least when it comes to social media.