Last summer, I explained an NFL policy designed to limit the amount of video and audio content that traditional media could put on their online ventures. As a part of the credentialing process, the media had to agree not to use more than 45 seconds of interview content each day. The video could only be kept on the website for 24 hours, couldn't be archived, and the website had to have a link to the NFL website.
The Houston Chronicle demonstrated the absurdity of jamming multiple interviews into 45 seconds with the above video that includes Texans owner Bob McNair (!) in it (this video was captured before it was removed from their site).
This year, the NFL increased the time limit to 90 seconds (pdf link from Vikings credentials):
The 2008 NFL credentials impose a 90-second limit on the use of online and other new media non-game audio and video content obtained as a result of credentialed access. Such content may not be "archived" (i.e., made available for on-demand public access) for more than 24 hours on the Internet, may not incorporate integrated advertising, and must be accompanied by links back to NFL.com and to the team's web site.The reason for this rule? According to the NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello, they want to protect the NFL's own
"We have no interest in controlling or limiting what news Web sites do, except limiting the use of video that undermines our own Internet operations. We have important business interests on the Internet, and we have to be careful about that."Significantly restricting speech sounds pretty un-American to me, though I suppose monopolies exerting their power in stupid and consumer-crushing ways is a traditional American activity.
The NFL rule misses the point that news coverage from local papers, television and radio does nothing to undermine their internet operations. For the sort of NFL fans inclined to look at the NFL websites, no amount of information will ever be enough, and it is very likely the stories that are on team websites would be different than the ones on media websites. The more a casual fan knows about a team, the more likely they are to become a dedicated fan.
Strangely, the NFL is the only sports organization I can think of that wants media to cover their teams less.
Though it is better that they increased the amount of time from 45 seconds to 90 seconds, the bigger problem that I see is that the content can only remain up for 24 hours and is not supposed to be archived on the internet. Blink and you will miss it. What's the point of even making a video that only exists for 24 hours?
This rule is anti-fan. Most sensible news organizations don't want to make their video or podcast information too long anyway because interwebbers as a group have short attention spans. Limiting online interviews with team personnel to 90 seconds a day and forbidding it to be online for more than 24 hours sounds like the sick silly restrictions that the Chinese government would impose in order for media receive credentials, not what the most popular American sport league should do.
This is disappointing but not surprising. I'd be more surprised if the NFL put the fans first in their decision making.
Previously at FanHouse:
Dear Roger Goodell, Re: Absurd 45 Second Video Rule
Video Shows New NFL Online Media Policy is Absurd
Missing NFL Blog Post: Self-Censorship or Something Else