Here is the second part of the 3 part analysis of the NHL and the use of Social Media by Matt Reitz.
But as great as the highlights and interactive nature of the league’s website is, it’s the extras they provide that show they truly get the new media concept. They provide visitors the tools to not only link the highlights they provide, but even embed the videos on blogs and other social media services. They even allow fans to record highlights from the games on their own and post them to YouTube. Did you hear that? They are making it EASIER for people to take their content.
It’s like bizarro world—up is down, day is night, and Gary Bettman is smart. This can’t be happening, can it?
When you contrast the NHL’s online sharing policy with some other sports, it becomes clear just how good hockey fans have it. Take Major League Baseball for example. Up until recently, it was a pain in the ass to find highlights on MLB’s website. Still, if you’re looking for a specific highlight from a specific game, good luck. You may find it—but it’s not going to be easy. Last time I had to find a highlight, I was reduced to Google; only for them to redirect me to a page on MLB.com that had no apparent inbound links. That doesn’t sound like the kind of page they WANT you to find, does it?
When you take a step back, it really shouldn’t be that much of a surprise. They are endlessly promoting their MLB.TV package—pay a flat rate and you have access to live streaming video as well as highlights. They look at the web as another way to make money. By the way, I know VERY FEW people that buy the online content.
Their policy for online content on YouTube is just as short-sighted. If you search for great highlights from a game last night—a towering home run by Manny Ramirez or highlight reel catch by Torii Hunter—you’ll be lucky if you find anything. The BEST thing that you’ll ever find is someone that was at the game that was actually shooting video from their phone, and then uploaded it to YouTube. That’s because “any reproduction, duplication, or distribution in any form is expressly prohibited by Major League Baseball.” (Sidenote: It’s a little sad that in today’s world of sharing, I still have that quote committed to memory.)
How the hell can they be called America’s Pastime when they aren’t even allowing highlights on YouTube? There’s nothing more American than idly passing time by watching YouTube for hours on end!
The concept that the NHL has figured out is that the videos are nothing more than free promotion for their sport. If I am blogging about a particular player or game, I could wax poetically about the atmosphere of the crowd, the intensity of the players and the gracefulness of a spectacular play. But if I have access to SHOW you the play, well that will give you something that even the most eloquent writer will fail to achieve. You know how they say that a picture is worth a thousand words? Then how many words is a VIDEO worth?
The National Hockey League has realized that bloggers are a valuable resource for them to help spread their sport. It might be the greatest game on Earth, but if no one is hearing or talking about it—does it really matter? This is where both the bloggers and the NHL’s needs are perfectly aligned. Both the league and bloggers should want as much promotion for the content as possible. The greatest blogger in the world could be creating world-class content—but if no one finds the blog, then what the hell is the point? Enter Social Media.