“There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission.” – Intro to The Outer Limits
There’s an old saying that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. That doesn’t describe exactly what seems to be going on with the SEC and its sports product, but it’s not too far off.
So the excitement expressed at SECFans.com about the coming brave new world…
Now to the juiciest tidbit! The SEC Digital Network will change the way you use your downtime. From the sound of it, we are all going to be drooling in front of our computers for hours on end. It starts with a totally redesigned SECSports.com. Utilizing ESPN360 technology the plan is to launch an iTunes-esque site with the following:
- Game Replays
- Game Highlights
- Tailgating Events
- Post-game Interviews
- Press Conferences
- Behind-the-Scenes Pep-talks
- Real-time SEC News
Now, viewing the content will be free, but you’ll also have the option to purchase content for download or on DVD. Pretty nifty, right? Doesn’t seem mind-blowing yet? What if I said that this is supposed to cover all men’s and women’s sports? Still not enough? Well, that’s where XOS Technologies steps in. XOS recently acquired Collegiate Images, and they are the content distribution rights-holder for 11 SEC schools (No, I don’t know who the 12th is, nor do I know how it affects things). Combine that with the ESPN deal bringing all rights to their broadcasts back to the schools and you’ve got one hell of a resource…
has to be tempered by the other shoe the conference just dropped.
The Southeastern Conference is banning media outlets from posting game highlights online as part of a deal limiting the availability of that content to its new Web site.
As part of the agreement, some details of which may change, media outlets will no longer be allowed to post clips from games on their Web sites. TV stations can broadcast the footage only as part of newscasts within 72 hours. Exceptions are limited to universities and those holding or paying for specific rights.
Last month, the SEC and XOS Digital announced a deal to launch the SEC Digital Network. The Lake Mary-based company is revamping the SEC’s Web site to provide access to highlights and complete game replays, some of which would be available for a fee.
Now my point here isn’t to demonize the SEC. There is an air of almost mournful inevitability about this decision that arose the minute CBS and ESPN put the value they did on the conference’s broadcast rights. And I can’t blame them for wanting to maximize what they can get for the property. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel a certain amount of uneasiness about it, either.
David Hale says it far more eloquently than I can.
… What does it all mean? Well, for one, no more videos on this blog of practice or player interviews, but that’s really just the start.
As teams, conferences and leagues expand their multimedia platforms, these things will continue to occur. (And they already have in other places, including the NFL.) The thought among many of these organizations is that you, as fans, don’t care. They think you’ll be satisfied with the controlled information you are given from them — essentially replacing the media with a public relations firm.
Maybe that’s true, but I’m guessing after your favorite team gets spanked by a rival, you’re not looking for the watered-down version of what happened. Perhaps you really don’t care where the information is coming from, but my guess is that you value quality journalism a lot more than they give you credit for. Maybe you go to one place and one place only for your news. But I’d be willing to bet the majority of you have gotten used to being able to surf a few dozen sites to get a broad view of Georgia football.
Look, I know things are changing for the media. I’ve been as vocal about the problems of the newspaper business as anyone. But for all our problems, I’m pretty certain that most fans appreciate the work most of us do — even if they don’t necessarily like all of it. And if you don’t things like this will seriously affect the coverage you get of your favorite teams, you’re being extremely naive.
The thing is, there’s nothing you can do about it. They are controlling transmission.
UPDATE: Related thoughts here at And The Valley Shook.