Earlier in October, an NFL memo was leaked to the public informing that teams were no longer allowed to share original highlights via their own social media channels. Instead, teams were required to wait until the NFL generated the content, which would be subsequently shared by the teams.
The goal was for the league to have greater control over the content as the league battled weakening television numbers and an increased reliance on the digital space. One theory is that the league wanted to delay highlights on Twitter and other social media spheres to force people to watch the games.
Unlike NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who believes that highlights are simply free advertising in a digital world and supports fan-made content, those at the top of the NFL want greater control and restrictions.
And before you start shouting about NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, we should note that Patriots CEO Jonathan Kraft is the co-chair of the NFL’s Digital Media Commitee and that these new restrictions are his brainchild.
In this upside down world, Kraft is the bad guy and you’ll probably support Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who “had a heated exchange” with Kraft at this past week’s NFL owners meeting, per CBS’s Jason La Canfora.
“Jones made an impassioned defense of the member clubs, claiming the highlights were team-generated content and clubs should be able to do what they want with them on social media,” La Canfora reports. “Some teams, like the Browns and Eagles, have made tongue-in-cheek posts aimed at the league's highlight policy -- the GIFs and videos are only displayed by the league's official social media sites -- and other owners have voiced displeasure over the measure as well.
“Jones also expressed his belief that if the league can post the videos then the teams should do so as well. Kraft actually got up and left the meeting room at one point, sources said.”
I’m still not sure what the point of contention is between the two sides. Does Kraft and company want all the highlights on the official NFL Twitter feed so they have an easier read on web traffic? Or is the aim to have fans of all teams follow the official NFL Twitter feed so they are exposed to a greater number of teams and highlights?
Apparently only a few owners are upset with this new rule, and it should be noted that Jones and the Cowboys are the most profitable team in the league due to their autonomy of merchandising; they would like to retain control in other facets of business, too. Maybe the new social media rules benefit the weaker teams in the NFL.
Kraft has also played a role in getting football streaming on Twitter, which I consider to be a major success, so his contributions aren’t fully misguided. I’d be interested to hear Kraft’s side of the social media argument.