Over the past few months a growing number of Premier Leagues matches (in addition to other sporting events) have been broadcast by Snapchat as a ‘live story’. For those unfamiliar with the technology, Snapchat is a global image and video messaging app that is freely available on smart phones. It offers a new advertising platform given its massive user base. Live stories are compilations of photos and videos from Snapchatters at events and locations around the world.
According to Snapchat these live stories “typically appear for 24 hours”. Once you are in the location of a live story (inside a football ground for instance) you can make a contribution and it may be uploaded to the live story for the world to see. For instance, if you were inside the Britannia Stadium last Monday night you could send a Snapchat image or video to the live story of Stoke vs Tottenham.
Perhaps broadcasters are already compensated for a live story, but it got me thinking whether broadcasting through this medium infringed on the rights of TV companies who have paid for exclusive access to Premier League matches. Albeit amateur footage, anyone with a smart phone could have seen action from the Britannia last Monday. Three of the four goals were shown. One didn’t need a Sky Sports subscription to catch lots of highlights for free. The Premier League and Sky strongly support the 3pm blackout – I’m not sure if Snapchat stories are exempt from this too?
Live streaming through the internet seems to be the big challenge for companies like Sky going forward. While it’s clearly not the same quality of product now, is it too big of a step to think of phones having the technology to perfectly stream games to others outside of the stadium from where they are sitting in years to come? At concerts and cinemas I often see that attendees can be asked to leave if they are seen recording any of the material. Should this rule apply to those inside a stadium at a live sporting event?
The threat of smart phones and apps like Snapchat may not be worrying big broadcasters yet. Evidently, they are still handing enormous sums over for Premier League TV deals. That said live streaming through smart phones may be something to keep an eye on going forward - after all, these devices and the internet in general are only going one way!