This post is a collaboration with the super smart Lauren Fernandez. She pointed me towards this story and related issue, so it was only right to have her weigh in and get her point of view. You can connect with Lauren at her awesome PR blog or on Twitter.
We’re all aware of the hyper-connectivity that Social Media has created in today’s digital age – providing us with information and numerous forms of media at the tips of our fingers. The speed at which technology has changed our everyday lives and the opportunities it has created for businesses is amazing; but the SEC doesn’t see it that way.
The Southeastern collegiate athletic conference has sent out a new media policy that outlines stringent limitations to reporters, but even more importantly, rules for the fans. That’s right – the SEC and their perceived threat of technology and social media made them issue this guideline for fans that attend SEC events:
Ticketed fans can’t “produce or disseminate (or aid in producing or disseminating) any material or information about the Event, including, but not limited to, any account, description, picture, video, audio, reproduction or other information concerning the Event.”
The growing issue we see here is about media exclusivity and whether organizations such as the SEC have the rights to exclusive ownership to media (while preventing user-generated media) – or do those of us paying for & consuming such events, have the rights to utilize social media to capture and share created media with our communities. On one side you have billion dollar budgets from companies that expect such media to be produced and viewed within the confines of their respective platforms – where on the flip, you have the power of technology and the evolving world of media and how it’s consumed IRL and shared in the e-world. There are many arguments here but Lauren and I have come up with a few points for both sides of the media exclusivity debate:
- Companies pay for exclusive sponsorships/advertising – The SEC wants viewers to tune into ESPN and make their advertisement rates appealing to companies. Sure, companies that are on Twitter can tweet about the SEC games, give away prizes and show pictures – but they have to link to picture and interviews provided by media and SEC.
- The media – Current outlets will have an exclusive right to report and share media, while not having to compete with social networks and the thousands of citizen journalists that reside there.
- Fans won’t go to games – Not only will fans just update and tweet if they aren’t ticketed, the SEC might lose out on ticket sales. This could be detrimental in the sports realm. Can you imagine a school such as LSU enforcing this, and what their alumni base will say? A big part of SEC schools are their alumni support, which comes from…you guessed it: sporting events.
- Backlash from actual policing – Trying to police social media use within a stadium, such as the Florida Gators who host around 90,000 fans, is a ludicrous thought in its own. But what happens when fans are ‘caught’ live-tweeting or taking pictures of events? Are they kicked out? Mobile devices taken away? Wherever that line is drawn, the outcome of reprimanding your fan-base, those very people who support you on a daily basis, will not be pretty and have a lasting negative effect.
There could be compromises from both parties, such as having the SEC’s own social media team create the media that can then be shared and reproduced by their fan-base – but anything short of deleting this policy would not only create a larger uproar online, but would alienate many SEC supporters.
Lauren and I could add even more points to this issue, but we wanna hear from you? What other pros & cons could you add to our list? Is the SEC in the right about this, or will they drive fans away?
Let us know what you think!
Update: The SEC has posted this on Twitter, saying they’re working to clarify their policy. We’ll update you when they’ve released this change.
Update 2: Here’s the revision to the policy via Mashable. To sum it up, they’ve realized that they can’t force fans to not use social media at games, thus allowing it, so long it’s not for commercial or business use – aka making a profit from the event. Win-win for everybody, here. Big ups to SEC for turning this around into a compromise that benefits both parties.