On live blogs, the Internet, and people who just don’t get it
I know not all of you have been following along with our enormous, unwieldy live blog this season. And if you are following along, you might notice if you blink twice, you miss a lot. It’s a lot like life, in that way.
Last evening during the live blog, Chris Korman of the Herald-Times typed these words sometime in second half: And we’ve been shut down. I kid you not.
There was a lot of confusion in the following moments. Was it the dirty, filthy NCAA shutting those blogging from courtside down? No. Was it that monolith ESPN, the TV rights holder for the game? Closer. It was actually International Sports Properties.
Steve Shutt, an assistant athletic director at Wake Forest, cited an ACC rule permitting only four blog posts per half when making the request, which both publications complied with. The live blog continued to be operated by contributors from the H-T, IDS, HoosierNation.com and Inside the Hall who were not credentialed to cover the event.
After the game, Shutt said that the ACC rule on blogging was probably not in writing anywhere but followed common practice. Last year, the NCAA began limiting the number of blog posts reporters could make during all of its championships events.
He also said that Wake Forest could not allow the dissemination of information about the game on the Internet by courtside reporters because it violated the multimedia rights agreement the school has with ISP (International Sports Properties).
Under the agreement, which is for between $800,000 and $1.2 million per year according to Shutt, ISP owns the radio and Web rights to Wake Forest games.
ISP relies on drawing viewers to the Wake Forest Web site — which includes a GameTracker feature that allows fans to follow the game in close-to real-time — to set its advertising rates and generate revenue, so the university could not allow reporters to operate a blog that may divert readers from the official Web site.
Now, before I completely deconstruct this rule, let me say one thing: Steve Shutt is well within his right to shut Korman and Matt Dollinger of the IDS down. IPS pays a lot of money to own the Web rights to Wake games, and all this rule serves to do is protect the bottom line. The cash. The scrill. The sweet cheddar cheddar.
But if Steve Shutt thinks that people are coming to our live blog in lieu of the GameTracker on Wake’s site, well, that’s just not the truth. I would imagine the thinking of IU fans goes as such: “I will watch the game on ESPN, and perhaps will have the out-of-control live blog on my laptop as I type.” Or “I will watch the GameTracker on IU’s site or ESPN’s site in congruence with the game.” Or “I can’t watch the game on TV because I am stuck in class, so I will have the GameTracker on IU’s or ESPN’s site up and perhaps have that ridiculous live blog up, too.” Or “I am in the car. I will listen in the radio.” Or “I will listen to the sweet sounds of Don Fischer with the sound down on the TV.” OK, that should just about cover it.
Look: No IU fan is running to Wake’s site being like “OH MY GOD I HAVE TO ONLY FOLLOW THEIR GAMETRACKER BECAUSE IPS IS THE RIGHTS HOLDER.” It’s their team, they’ll go to their site. And furthermore, if this is the case, why does IU and ESPN have a GameTracker on their site as well during the game? (I think CBS does, too.) Can someone explain that one to me?
Now, I’m assuming it’s because of the fact that Korman and Dollinger were actually there, live, in person, blogging. But again, the blog/chat still continued. I still wrote, E still wrote, A still wrote, John Decker still wrote, Zach Osterman still wrote, Doug Wilson still wrote, Jared still wrote, a million of the commenters still wrote. Hell, Korman and Dollinger still wrote, just not as much, as they were allowed four or five postings in the second half.
My point is this: What’s the damn point? The rule does nothing. Nothing at all. But it’s a sign of sports media these days. While sports leagues and networks run to YouTube and ask them to rip down clips of plays from the night before, they should be pushing their own embeddable players down bloggers throats that have these same plays. Throw a 20-second ad at the beginning of these clips. Straight cash, homie. (The Hulu model of having TV shows and movies up legally with small bits of ads here and there is what’s going to win out in the end. Hulu gets it.)
While record companies try and fight people that are illegally downloading music — what has it been, ten years or so now? — they should be taking the Radiohead or Girl Talk route. Let the consumer set their price. (Or even take the Normative route, invest in a band and screw the record industry as a whole.)
These things are going to keep happening. They’ve been happening for some time now. There’s no way you can stop it all. These companies are all just throwing spit on the fire. Just embrace, and find a way to profit from it. If Wake Forest is that concerned, have them give us an advertisement to pepper in a few times a half. That makes a hell of a lot more sense than what happened last night.
There’s already so much going on during the live blog, I’m sure we wouldn’t really mind, right?