One aspect of the SEC’s $2.25 billion deal with ESPN that, frankly, we all should have seen coming is the inevitable overprotection of the digital rights to the games and - more importantly - their highlights.
So with that in mind, try not to be too shocked that the SEC is going to keep their highlights to themselves. And we’re not talking about just online, either.
According to the TUSCALOOSA NEWS, significant restrictions are going in place, including a limit on televised highlights. Oh, good:
The policy, distributed to member schools Thursday and obtained by The Tuscaloosa News on Friday, also places restrictions on TV broadcasts, limiting news stations to clips of no longer than three minutes and allowing highlights for only 72 hours after the conclusion of a game.
As you can imagine, the SEC will also limit highlights from ending up on YouTube, instead hosting the clips themselves on their own digital network.
This, of course, is foolish for several reasons. One, it’s hard to imagine that the SEC would be in any way, shape, or form harmed by an Alabama television station showing highlights of an Iron Bowl on the following Wednesday night but not on Tuesday.
Two, the MLB is actively patrolling YouTube for any posted videos of highlights, even - nay, especially when it’s something awesome like DeWayne Wise’s perfect-game-saving catch from last month. The end result? Slightly better traffic on their home page, millions of pissed-off blog readers, and a small fraction of the amount of eyes online actually watching baseball highlights.
It’s a tough decision: do you try to make $15 million on 10 million people watching your league’s highlights exclusively on your webpage with your proprietary software, or make whatever pennies YouTube hands out for 200 million people watching there instead? Yes, short-term, it’s a financial benefit, but long-term, we’re talking about an active reduction in the size of their market.
And then this part’s just weird:
The new rules additionally “place restrictions on what ticket-holders can do while at the game,” as the policy “forbids fans from taking photographs or sharing accounts or descriptions of the event.”
Oh, enjoy enforcing that one, SEC. No twittering from the game? No fan-video of earth-shattering moments? Okay, watch this and tell us you don’t think it’s beneficial to the conference and sport as a whole:
Fans want to share things. It’s instinctive. And now they have the technology to do so and the conference wants to restrict it? Great. Welcome to the first conference to create a black market for its own highlights.
Either that, or they can just put them to radio and video games:
That’s cool too. Way to go, SEC.