11/04

Radio Play-By-Play without Play-By-Play Rights Fees

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So let’s say you’re a radio station that attracts a male audience, but when play-by-play airs on another station, BOOM – off go listeners from your station to theirs.

What do you do when your fans want to hear that play-by-play and they leave your station to hear it?

Well, consider this: What if they could get the play-by-play and get it from you – no rights or rights fees necessary?

What if they could get the play-by-play and get it from you - no rights or rights fees necessary? Click To TweetAnd what if they could get it through your digital platforms by the hosts they love the most – yours? Or even hosted by your fans themselves?

That’s at least one potential application for Rabble.TV, a new digital platform that allows sports fans to call their own games and share their performance with their own fans live.

Take your favorite live sports event, subtract the native audio and video and the professional color and play-by-play – and add fans. That’s Rabble.TV.

Watch this Q&A with Ryan Tyrrell, Rabble’s Managing Partner. He lays out the whole concept.

Now I know what you’re thinking: The leagues would never allow major broadcasters to mess with this platform because doing so would deep-six the value of the rights fees. Okay, the sports leagues are litigious animals, so who knows?

But I’ll tell you this: Radio rights fees might decline, but that’s inevitable anyway as consumers switch to audio streams and second screens to listen to and watch games where the teams can continue to monetize (or control) the rights. 

Meanwhile, if you don’t show any video or play any native audio from the game but you’re simply calling what you see, have you infringed on anybody’s rights?

From the perspective of the leagues, the more fans calling games you have (and the more fans those fans have) the more attention those games receive, and the more likely I am to watch the games if I’m in front of a screen (with or without the sound up). And since video rights are more lucrative than audio rights, it’s in the interests of the sports leagues to maximize attention on screens, not speakers.

It’s good to remember that once upon a time Lucasfilm sued websites that republished copyrighted images from Star Wars. Right up until they realized that they could get more attention and profits from their assets by sharing this content with fans than by blocking that sharing.

So don’t be surprised if one day in the not too distant future, the NFL and MLB are enabling their own fans to call games using a platform like Rabble.TV, thus cutting you out of the equation yet still entertaining bids for “radio rights” for play-by-play.

The game is where the value is in an era where distribution grows like weeds.

So who will be calling the games in the future?

Your hosts? Your fans?

And who will be monetizing that attention? You or the big sports leagues or both?

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