Live-streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat have the potential to add a new dimension to sports by giving fans live, behind-the-scenes insight into their favorite teams. Or, they might if sporting authorities allowed it. As the NFL off-season begins to pick up steam with training camps and practices — perhaps ideal fodder for live streaming — it seems that even the teams themselves are banned from using Periscope (and, we assume, Meerkat as well).
As spotted by The Daily Dot yesterday, the New Orleans Saints' Twitter account tweeted that it's an "NFL rule" that "teams aren't allowed to use Periscope" at practices in response to a fan's question. Then, when answering a follow-up question about the many teams who have official accounts on Periscope, @Saints responded that "some teams set up accounts before rule was in place, probably won't be using them for now."
Sporting authorities are so far taking a cautious approach to live streaming
It's not clear exactly when this rule came into force, but it does fit the sporting industry's general reaction to live-streaming apps. While it was to be expected that copyright holders would clamp down on streams of pay-per-view events like the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, some sporting authorities have been more broadly restrictive. The NHL, for example, reminded fans in April that broadcasting footage "before, during, and after" games is forbidden, and reportedly called special attention to journalists streaming pre- and post-game interviews. The desire to clamp down on unofficial broadcasting of any sort even led the PGA Tour to strip a journalist of her media credentials after she Periscoped a practice round at the Masters.
In the case of live streaming NFL team practices, it could be that the ruling simply reflects coaches' desire for privacy (after all, no one wants to give away their tactics), but it's possible that live streaming might yet be embraced as a marketing tool. Speaking to the New York Daily News earlier this month, a spokesperson for the NFL said that the sporting body would spend the off-season "evaluating" the potential of the technology. In other sports, the approach is more open, with Major League Soccer's New England Revolution frequently periscoping pregame interviews and the like before uploading the footage online.