Back in October, the National Football League decided to crack down on the perceived “wild west” usage of social media by its teams, stating that that they could be fined up to $100,000 for posting certain types of media online during the game. Basically, teams couldn’t post any type of media that they came up with on their own; certainly no live streaming via Periscope or the like. They had to wait for “official” media to show up on the league servers.
The league has long been known as the “No Fun League” to fans who complained that it was too strict on things like touchdown celebrations and the height of socks, and this ruling did nothing to dispel that concept. Teams even trolled the NFL on their own:
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) October 16, 2016
The NFL Players Association spokesman took notice of this:
— George Atallah (@GeorgeAtallah) October 16, 2016
TOUCHDOWN BROWNS! pic.twitter.com/RjRt9DVlpB
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 16, 2016
Now the NFL has seen the light. Yahoo Finance obtained a memo from the League to member Clubs detailing the updated procedural changes, which go into effect straight away. They pointedly apply to the big name platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Periscope, and YouTube.
The memo says the changes “are consistent with objectives we have discussed with Clubs, including growing League and Club presences on social media, and evolving our national and local model while best positioning the NFL for long-term success.” Translated, that means the backlash from fans and media was too much of a headache, and the league has to embrace this newfangled social media stuff because it’s not going to go away anytime soon. After all, Twitter carries games live.
The new updated policy also highlights a “test” deal between the NFL and Giphy. In effect until June of next year, it makes Giphy the official GIF provider of the league. Or, as the NFL put it in Yahoo Finance, “The source of high quality and authentic NFL GIFs of ancillary game and historical/iconic content.” The NFL loves officially licensed agreements — look for this one to remain in place if it runs smoothly.
The NFL has also changed the number of videos a team can post on game day, from eight to 16 per platform. And teams are now allowed to post certain types media during the “game window,” which is from kickoff until an hour after the game ends. Yahoo Finance says they can post images from the game such as halftime, sideline shots, fan shots and the like. TD celebrations are okay, but no in-game play footage is allowed. In other words, Cowboys star rookie QB Dak Prescott can score on a 5-yard run, but teams can only show him spiking the ball or doing some type of post-TD celebration.
However, TechCrunch mentions that “Teams can now post five ‘snaps’ of live game action to Snapchat per game. Previously they were not allowed to post any snaps. Whether intentional or not, this rule makes Snapchat the only place to get ‘live’ game footage outside of a TV broadcast or GIFs and videos created by the NFL itself.”
With the league having TV ratings issues, it had to do something to correct this fumble from a couple of months back. Streaming and social media is the go-to platform for the present and the future, and the NFL will have to look long and hard and how its product gets consumed on the traditional platforms of choice, radio and TV.