It simply took one tweet about this part of the media policy for the 49th Annual event.
“No media member is allowed to post any lap-by-lap descriptions during the entirety of Snowball Derby week on any account and/or credentialed media outlet. The credentialed media person agrees not to Tweet, Facebook or perform any other form of social media or website update any less than 15 minutes apart. The 15-minute regulation applies to the person and not the form by which an entry is made. (i.e. – credentialed media member cannot post to Twitter at 12:00pm and Facebook at 12:10). 15 minutes must transpire before an entry of any kind is made by the media member, whether credentialed or not.”
Right away, people were calling out Five Flags Speedway, Speed51.com and Bob Dillner about this policy. Many felt that this was 51’s way to control that they can be the only one to do anything live at the event, it is unfair, it’s not right, etc.
Some have even said they won’t attend the event as a fan and some in the media simply said they will not cover it.
The main issue has to do with play-by-play type blogging along with using live video sources like Periscope, Facebook Live and YouTube Live.
Without hesitation, the knee-jerk reaction is that they can’t do any social media updating whatsoever. That is not true. All they are asking for the credentialed media to do is not provide a lap-by-lap twitter update of the races.
The obvious reason is because Speed51.com has the exclusive broadcast and media rights for the Derby…for the 16th year in a row.
For full disclosure, I am friends with Speed51.com and do provide stories to them from time to time. I do not have an exclusive affiliation with them.
Instead of going on and sharing my thoughts on social media, I thought it would be best to see how this is looked at in other sport entities, and it didn’t take long.
In regards to live video, did you know that last month the NFL instituted a new league policy that from kickoff to an hour after the game, NFL teams can no longer post their own video on social media? It could result in fines up to $100,000. They can only re-post NFL-owned videos on Twitter and use Snapchat. They also cannot live stream games or plays.
The reason for the fines was because teams were violating existing rules.
When it comes to live play-by-play blogging, one easy find was the NCAA Digital Media policy which reads…
“A credentialed media member may blog or provide updates via social media during any NCAA championship event, provided that such posts do not produce in any form a “real-time” description of the event (i.e., any simulation or display of any kind that replicates or constitutes play-by-play of a material portion of an event, other than periodic updates of scores, statistics or other brief descriptions of the event) as determined by the NCAA in its sole discretion. If the NCAA deems that the credentialed media member is producing a real-time description of the contest, the NCAA reserves all actions against the credentialed media member, including but not limited to the revocation of the credential.”
Maybe the wording that the NCAA uses may be better suited for what they are trying to achieve at the Snowball Derby. This has been passed along to them and they have revised their guidelines. (http://speed51.com/five-flags-speedway-further-redefines-snowball-derby-media-policy/)
The next question is why these entities feel like they have to limit media people from doing play-by-play blogging, tweeting, etc. The answer is simple, they have a product they are trying to protect, a product that someone bought the rights too in order to have this agreement that they are the ones allowed to do anything that is considered live, up to the minute communication.
Those involved with those rights get what their agreement means, and why they need to make this as part of their policy.
Let’s take a look at NASCAR. Both MRN/PRN have the radio broadcast rights while NBC/FOX has the television rights for various NASCAR events. It would not be a surprise if they are concerned about media members doing live lap-by-lap blogging, streaming or tweeting without permission from them or NASCAR. They have invested millions into having those rights. As a business, their hope for a return on their investment (ROI) is to profit off of what they purchased, I.E. selling advertising because of those exclusive rights.
The NCAA is very strict especially during the March Madness basketball tournament time. Your local television station cannot show immediate highlights while the game is going on or for a certain time after the game. That is because the television stations that own the rights, want to be the only one to air those broadcasts.
Yes, there is an argument to be made when it comes to the short track level. Passionate reporters/bloggers feel that by them doing live blogging or streaming, they feel they are doing what they can to help promote a short track event or track. They feel that they are trying to provide a service, but get upset when that service they want to provide turned down. They immediately go on social media and bash the decision by saying things like they don’t want our coverage and this is why short track racing is failing.
Again, yes, this could be a part of the reason we are seeing a decline in some aspects of short track racing. But, there has yet to be a guaranteed proof that live play-by-play blogging has helped or hurt our sport. No one can officially say that because this person or entity did lap-by-lap blogging kept so many fans at home rather than paying an admission ticket. At the same time, that blogger cannot definitely say that all of their 8,000 or so Twitter followers watched every lap-by-lap tweet.
What must be realized by all is that with today’s economy, return on investment is the number one thing in business and they must see positive results from it.
Why are sponsors pulling out of this sport? It’s because they are not seeing a return on their investment.
A short track driver told me a while back that he when the economy was good, he could go to a local grocery store and the store owner would be more than happy to give him some money in return for advertising on his car. When the economy got tough, that store owner told the driver as much as he likes him, money is tight and if he isn’t seeing an ROI on the sponsorship, they can’t continue to sponsor the team.
Sadly, many are saying that they are seeing a bad trend in racing. That trend is just give me money and I will see you next year for another check. There is no teamwork through that sponsorship cycle to work together in ensuring that there is an ROI for the sponsor.
There are no business-to-business planning from either side to make the most of what is available to them. Driver appearances, car appearances, sponsor business-to-business campaigns (I.E. television manufacturer working with a hotel chain to get their televisions in their hotels), and more are not happening, especially in the short track world. It’s only the give me money and I will put your logo on my car or billboard at my track/series plan…nothing else.
The smart promoters and teams are doing more with their sponsors to prove that they are doing what they can for each side to see an ROI in their partnership.
Some in the media are in the same mindset. You give me a credential and I will cover your race…the way I want to cover it and not respect how you would like to have it covered.
This egotistical attitude that some in the media pour out on social media or in their columns doesn’t help the sport. It sinks to a lower level. You know what, promoters are starting to recognize this and are starting to “drain the swamp” themselves.
This is about respect on all sides. This is about finding ways for all sides to be successful and find a way to where each side finds a positive return on their investment into this sport.
We all need to take a step back and stop to understand why a track/series and other sport entities make decisions like what we are seeing with the Snowball Derby. Their reason isn’t to piss people off, it’s a business decision for those who have invested in their event.
As a member of the media, it is a privilege, not a right, to be given a credential to cover it and we simply need to respect their wishes and together find ways for all sides to be successful.
While they may not want you to do lap-by-lap tweeting, but your service during the event may still be something to enhance it for those in attendance, watching the pay-per-view, or just looking for periodic updates. There is a win-win in this for everyone. Just take some time to think about that versus jumping on social media and screaming at the top of the mountain.