NFL Drops The Ball With Online Video

    December 11, 2006

Online video as a social marketing mechanism has hit full stride with the pervasive popularity of video-sharing site, YouTube. Network television and various record labels have begun to embrace the platform as a new and untapped advertising resource. The presence of major sports entities, however, remains fragmented.

NFL Drops The Ball With Online Video
No Online Video For NFL

Broadband technology has opened the flood gates of streaming video content, to the point where the web is virtually inundated with various clips that take the shape of advertisements, music videos, or even the latest episode of Grey’s Anatomy.

Last week’s NFL highlights, however, are nowhere to be found.

Choosing between protecting copyrighted content and garnering free publicity is a delicate balance that the major sports are currently facing. The NFL and the NHL represent the two most opposite ends of the online video spectrum.

The NHL, beleaguered by poor television ratings and coming off the heels of a recent labor stoppage, has decided to throw caution to the wind and embrace Google Video as a vehicle of re-engendering public interest in the product by signing an exclusive content deal with the video sharing site in early November.

“When web users are searching for diverse video content, Google Video is the first place they go, just as is the first place hockey fans go when they want NHL video,” said Keith Ritter, President of NHL ICE.

“The combination of our content and Google’s massive reach is a terrific pairing, and we’re excited to add fan-generated content to the mix.”

The NFL, however, has taken a drastically different stance on the free distribution of its video content. Around the same time the NHL locked up deals for content distribution of its games, the NFL kindly (or perhaps not so kindly) asked YouTube to remove more than 3,000 clips from its site that featured NFL game footage.

David J. Warner hopes this is just a posturing move by the league:

I want to believe that this is just a prelude for Roger Goodell to strike some sort of online video deal similar to the National Hockey League’s deal with Google Video, but the NFL isn’t nearly as desperate for eyeballs as the NHL. When the money is flowing, you want to keep that flow going at all costs, even if it means annoying fans in the process. The football business is different enough from the music business that it won’t make enough of a dent to matter. Few of those fans will turn away just because they can’t watch Joey Porter scream, “They shot me in Denver!” for the 500th time.

Another blogger eyes a different approach:

Here’s your solution: the NFL needs to start up a YouTube-like FREE service in which we all can drop by and enjoy McNabb puking or Chad Johnson dancing or Terrell Owens sleeping. And then allow us to post the vids on our blogs for our seven friends to see.

Most people would agree that the NFL is the new king of all professional sports, annually topping the charts in television and merchandising revenue. Perhaps the league isn’t as desperate for viewership as the NHL, but is its harsh stance toward video sharing a step in the wrong direction?

The youth of America is fickle, and if the league wants to appeal to the next generation of consumer, it would be best served by looking at ways to make the game an interactive experience for the new, Internet savvy fan base. Online video portals such as YouTube and Google Video represent just such a platform.

I envision a bevy of MySpace profiles from avid fans, featuring clips of their team’s finest moments. This should be a dream scenario for the NFL, free user marketing of the product.

So here’s wishing the NHL much success in its visionary endeavor with Google Video, if only to spur the suits at the NFL to get a clue.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.