All sports teams and leagues should allow embedding of online video

It seems as though every time I venture onto a NBA or NFL team's official site, I'm shocked by the amount of video content I find. I don't know why I should be; with the number of interviews, behind-the-scenes access and other stuff, that's probably about the amount of content I'd have up there if I were somehow running the show. But still, I'm shocked. 

The probable reason: I don't expect to find all this video because I simply don't come to official team sites to get my news. There's too much other stuff going on there. I'll come to team sites to buy tickets, check the schedule, see what promotions are going on and maybe even peruse through the team store, but will not go straight there for my news. Team websites, for most purposes, are overt marketing material. I'm not going to dig through that for my news.

The solution, as mentioned, is allowing users to take team or league videos and drop them in whatever site I would like.

For those who are unfamiliar with this embedding, here's the process. Say I write an NHL blog, or maybe some dumb publication on sports and social media, and would like to have some video of Detroit Redwings star Pavel Datsyuk busting out this move I tried to do repeatedly as a kid but could never get down. I go to NHL.com's video section, search for it, find the video, and then click 'Share'. From there, I just grab the embed code and copy it into the HTML on my site. Shazaam:

Now, of course, the reasoning:

  • Why not do it? The basic reason is obviously that teams/leagues/sites want users to come to their site to watch the video. But think of the reasons for that first. "Well, we want them to know about the promotions and be able to buy tickets." Run a short ad before the video letting fans know what's up. This has to be 5-15 seconds tops. If you run a 30-second ad on a 60 or 90-second video, you're going to make people hate you. No, not just not watch future videos. They'll dislike you. After the video's over, link them to wherever you want. It could be more videos, could be whatever's on sale in the team store or it could even be tickets to Cheezburger Night. The point: teams and leagues can still accomplish what they want to while drastically expanding their videos' viewership.
  • Take the videos to the fans. Teams need to be honest with themselves and acknowledge that only their most diehard passionate fans are going to want to watch some of the videos available on their site. That doesn't mean some of the videos aren't worth doing, it simply means they need to be as accessible as possible. The same applies to the videos team's expect to draw the most interest. Let the videos flow to the places where the diehards congregate. If someone wants to shown everyone Matt Flynn's post-Super Bowl interview, they whould be able to do so.
  • National exposure. This is kind of an extension on the last one but the point is that team's have an opportunity to introduce players, plays, personalities and whatever to people who haven't seen them. With embeddable content, videos spread not only to blogs authored by fans of those teams, but to the national sports blogs that read those, and then the journalists who read that content. It can have a big impact.

I understand that leagues own a significant chunk of each professional sport's content but for team's in this position, they need to create content that they are allowed to embed. What are you not allowed to show? There must be something interesting that isn't that. This is where college teams may have a huge advantage.

I truly believe some team, league or college program is going to see the opportunity here—maybe they'll even take the Hulu approach and offer full games online while they let fans splice them up however they want—and reap the benefits. I could be naïve, but see only positives in this and next to no negatives. Why not try it?

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Evan - May 9, 2012 10:16 AM

As far as why not do it, I think you're missing the key reason. Websites are able to sell advertising based on the number of unique visitors to their sites. If other sites are taking their traffic, they are losing money. Video is one of the biggest traffic drivers for these sites. Why should they allow other sites to duplicate one of their biggest traffic pulls?

Also, what if a site like MLB.com was compiling a subscription-based database of baseball plays. All videos would be searchable by player, play type, etc. Paying subscribers could type in "glove flip double play" or "robbed home run" and view all the corresponding plays from the past X number of years.

Naturally, they'd want their videos to be exclusive to their service so they can drive subscriptions. How would allowing the commodity they are selling to be non-exclusive help their bottom line?

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