Memo to the NFL

You have sent a clear message that you are taking on your customers by this new set of rules for online media coverage, and it’s a foolish and dangerous proposition. You’ll argue, of course, that this is about media companies profiting from that which belongs to you and not about your customers, but that’s not the case. You are limiting the choice of fans, and that’s a big problem for you.

Here’s why. The assumption you’re making is that if anybody wants access to your world, they must come through you. This is contrary to the cultural disruption that’s underway, and I think you’re underestimating it. If you really want an unbundled strategy, then make all plays available à la carte with an embeddable player. I mean, who gives a crap about whether somebody runs 45-seconds or 45-minutes of “your” content, as long as it comes from you and contains your marketing?

Moreover, a second assumption is that if media companies want access to your fans, they’ll also have to come through you. This is probably the bigger of the two assumptions, because you believe that limiting access to eyeballs has value. This is called scarcity economics, and it just doesn’t work online.

For one, your copyright, like everyone’s, is subject to the rules of fair use, and you will have to defend that some day and lose. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, it has already been proven that your fans participate in fantasy leagues that are not of your making. Are you going to tell your fans that they can’t use “your” players, names and images in playing fantasy football?

I suppose you might.


  1. Hey Terry — the link is restricted. Can’t see the source, but I can guess.

  2. I have updated the link.

    Mike Sando
    Tacoma News Tribune

  3. I think Terry just has some extra coding in his link.

  4. Great take.

    I’d like to add a third assumption — they assume that the NFL can provide a product that even remotely compares in quality to what can be obtained in free media, and that it brings even a fraction of the value to the consumer, and indirectly, the NFL.

    One look at a yawn-stricken fan watching a Thursday night game will tell you the NFL just doesn’t bring the goods a devout fan is used to.

  5. Totally clueless. If I had to take something down after 24 hrs, I wouldn’t bother posting it.

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