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Live Event Sharing Apps Unwelcome in Sports Event Industry

9 Sep, 2015

By: Tracey Schelmetic

The sports and entertainment industries have had some trouble adjusting to new media when it comes to viewing and listening. The broadcast industry, particularly when it comes to premium televised sports events, is also in a flux. For years, boxing fans have become accustomed to tuning into Showtime or HBO and ponying up $90 or more to watch a fight. Wireless technology, however, enables anyone with a smartphone to become a broadcaster.

New apps such as Periscope and Meerkat, used in conjunction with social media, allow spectators to become broadcasters. Channels used to charging spectators big dollars to watch a live event are becoming wary. The recent Mayweather-Pacquiao fight in Las Vegas grossed $400 million in domestic pay-per-view revenue for Showtime and HBO, and no one gives that kind of revenue up voluntarily. The broadcasters are aware that more than 10,000 viewers watched the bout for free on Periscope, and the app has more than 10 million users. The NFL is concerned enough about revenue loss that it has filed four copyright take-down requests to the app to date.

Others in more non-traditional media niches see opportunity, according to a recent article by Zolan V Kanno-Youngs writing for USA Today. Increasingly, entertainment – like news reporting and dating – are happening inside social media. Periscope and Meerkat allows users to live-Tweet their homemade broadcast to their Twitter followers. 

“We’re at the early, early stages of technology allowing this to happen,” Ronald R. Urbach, an attorney specializing in intellectual property, sports and digital media told USA Today. “Stage 2 is people are going to make money off of it.”

It’s worth remembering that the entertainment industry was (and remains) highly wary of YouTube, which allows anyone to make and share content, and even earn revenue from that content. More forward-thinking entertainment companies have embraced YouTube, and use it to share their content virally through social media. Whether sports organizations and broadcasters take legal action against the apps will depend on how they are being used, according to Kanno-Youngs. For instance, the PGA tour, which recently asked a reporter to stop using Periscope, said it would take legal action against someone who is streaming the entire competition to develop a following. It will not stop fans from using it to complement their experience.

And smart companies will embrace streaming platforms as a marketing opportunity for teams and leagues, Manish Tripathi, an Emory University marketing professor and co-founder of Emory Sports Marketing Analytics, recently told CNBC. They can use content from fans to their advantage by increasing engagement.

"I think these apps will be viewed as ancillary to the actual broadcasts. In fact, you could see teams and leagues using the fan generated content from these apps as opportunities to enhance their marketing," Tripathi said.

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