The Fear Of The New

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

One thing that sports organizations don’t well is embrace new technology. Not many companies do for that matter. Most of the time companies have this knee jerk reaction to new technologies or methodologies and that reaction usually involves lawyers. This is the case with Periscope (and a similar service called Meerkat). Instead of freaking out they should be generating ideas on how to integrate this application as opposed to trying to shut it down.

Periscope at work

The Mayweather v Pacquiao fight has brought in close to $500 million. That’s half a billion dollars which is revenue than some publicly traded companies generate in a year. Yet the winner of the fight may have been Periscope. Not only was it it’s coming out party but the promoters of the fight are threatening legal action which always means you did something right.

While Periscope may seem like a threat on the surface it really isn’t much of one. So some people watched the fight through the app and didn’t pay for it. That number didn’t effect the overall number of buys (which was around 4.4 million) and those people were either at the fight or watching the fight where someone had already paid for it.

While Periscope is a very cool app, it still lacks the video and audio quality that an HD broadcast can deliver. Not to mention the fact that you are relying on someone on the other end to have a steady hand while shooting a TV screen or being at the event.

The PGA and NHL have already banned it’s use. The PGA went as far as pulling the credentials of prominent Golf blogger Stephanie Wei then later streamed content through their Periscope PGA account (read Stephanie’s blog post here). The NHL has banned the use in NHL arenas ‘before, during and after the game’. Oh, the NHL, several of their teams and the owner of their American broadcasting rights (NBC) all have their own Periscope accounts.

Really?

First, if you make a half billion dollars on a fight that went the distance and then it is revealed afterward that one of the fighters had an injured shoulder….you’re not going to find a whole lot of sympathy in the court of public opinion. Second, pulling the credentials of a popular blogger in a slowly dying sport, not the kind of promotion you’re looking for. Besides, she made a conscious effort not to show anything that may have been used in the national broadcast.

Is Periscope and Meerkat a threat? Not really. It’s a video version of Twitter which is why Twitter owns it. The fact is people will watch a sporting event on their iPhone however the quality has to be there and you are not going to get solid quality watching from someone shooting a TV screen on their iPhone.

Are their uses for this technology, yes! Most of them we haven’t even thought of yet so why take drastic steps now to limit the technology? Let it grow, support it and find out how it can help your business vs trying to play whack-a-mole. As far as the ‘piracy’ aspect is concerned, how about not charging a $100 for a pay-per-view? How bout charging half that and making up the difference in volume? It was, after all, the ‘Fight of the Century’.

Periscope and Meerkat are here to stay. How they evolve is the question. That evolution should not be left to entities that see it as a threat. If that were the case then we wouldn’t have airplanes or the internet. Give these technologies a chance to grow and see how they can help vs hurt sports.

‘Change is inevitable, growth is optional’

 

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