During the Ottawa Senators’ push for the playoffs, I pointed my phone at my television, fired up Periscope and streamed a shootout against the Toronto Maple Leafs while offering pithy commentary.
Within minutes, without any promotion on other social media, I had hundreds of people watching along with me.
It was at that point I realized the potential of the app and the completely nebulous legalities of it. Was this kosher? No idea. Was this awesome? Absolutely.
So the question then became how I could use this technology during coverage. At Game 1 of the New York Rangers’ series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, I did live Periscope intermission coverage. That seemed OK.
Some of the other people in the press box that were Periscoping the pregame skate or postgame comments? That seemed a little more dicey, given the NHL’s rules about shooting video at events where big media companies held the broadcast rights.
On Tuesday, the League finally addressed the real-time streaming issue, via a memo from deputy commissioner Bill Daly:
We have been advised that certain individuals attending NHL games pursuant to credentialed access are streaming live footage from inside NHL arenas before, during and after NHL games using technology offered by companies such as Periscope and Meerkat. As a reminder, NHL media credentials prohibit any “unauthorized use of any transmission, picture or other depiction or description of game action, game information, player interview or other arena activity . . . without prior written approval of” NHL or the team as applicable.
Without limiting the generality of the credential language, any streaming of footage in violation of the NHL’s Broadcast Guidelines (including, for example, live streaming inside the arena less than 30 minutes before the start of the game) and Media Access Policy is expressly prohibited.
So no more Periscoping warm-ups.
Again, one understands protecting the media rights for companies paying millions for exclusivity. But is that exclusivity violated by live streaming warm-ups? Or intermission? Or the coach’s press conference?
Is the NHL, which was one of the more liberal policies for fans uploading game video to YouTube, acting a bit too draconian here?
The real driving force behind this? Well, put it this way: As I write this, Mike Babcock of the Detroit Red Wings is speaking through the NHL's official Periscope channel. You do the math.