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Video Shows New NFL Online Media Policy is Absurd

Jun 8, 2007 – 12:45 PM
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Stephanie Stradley

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Update: Try this link if the YouTube is not working.

I've always had the point of view that an educated, knowledgeable sports fan is more likely to be a rabid fan. And that for those dedicated fans, no amount of information about their favorite team that is enough.

The NFL thinks differently. Though they have expanded media access to organized team activities in a way that is uncomfortable for some franchises, (Redskins, Patriots?), they have released new rules that significantly limit online video and audio for non-NFL websites. These rules limit all video footage to 45 seconds per day: for interviews, practice footage, everything. The videos can't be live , must be removed after 24 hours, and the online content must tell the viewer to go to NFL.com and the team website for more information, even if it is irrelevant to the story.

Check out this YouTube video from Houston Chronicle's John McClain NFL blog that illustrates the absurdity of this new rule. It is a series of semi-interviews with ND Kalu, Matt Schaub, QB coach Kyle Shanahan, GM Rick Smith and Texans owner Bob McNair. (Best actor award goes to Schaub.) McClain's responses in the comments section of the blog post show various ways the policy doesn't work, and possible solutions.

Technically, McClain violates the rule because his video goes on too long, and, for that matter, his blog post doesn't tell people to go to NFL.com or HoustonTexans.com. Removing the videos from the Chronicle website after 24 hours but still having them available at YouTube might be a problem too. But what sort of sanction would they do to Johnny Mac? Last year, he won the Dick McCann Memorial Award for his long and distinguished reporting of pro football. Seems to me, the NFL should listen to him when he is saying their video policy is misguided and impractical.

Ultimately, this silly rule should end up going the way that the NFL sideline video policy did. First the NFL restricted sideline access and use of video, but this year they changed that rule similar to the way it was. Yeah, it is great that the NFL and the team websites are putting more video content on their websites, but trying to get more of a monopoly on information is not the answer. Encouraging more interest in the sport and its players, from whatever source, ultimately grows the game so that more people will be interested in going to the official websites. (Ahem, I believe they should also increase team access to responsible bloggers too--some teams do that, other teams don't--but that's a different story and not a cause likely to be championed by members of the media).

By the way, in case your were wondering, the female in the video is Anna-Megan Raley. Anna-Megan has been in a series of videos with McClain, and recently has started the FanZone blog at the Chronicle website about Houston sports.
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