I know we can count a number of sports fans among our readership, many of whom probably rely on today’s technology to help follow whatever game catches your fancy. The sports industry has been a leader in using the internet to get content out to its fans, and is also a leader in using technology to control the footage that does get out.
Last spring, for instance, the CBC began streaming its hockey playoff coverage online – but it was available only to fans watching from Canada. This follows a long-standing practice of the BBC to stream its soccer coverage (both audio and video) only to UK viewers. Rumour has it that tech-savvy fans know how to get around these limits using widely available technology, leading to a sort of arms race as broadcasters try to stay one step ahead.
Both the BBC and CBC examples are freely-available extensions of tradiitonal media coverage. But Major League Baseball has always been out in front of other sports in its ability to actually make money off of its internet coverage. In order to protect its interests, MLB has plans to start watermarking its game footage so it can track its use. The technology will enable MLB’s robots to monitor news and sports coverage and “sniff out” the use of baseball footage in order to ensure it is being used according to the contracts in place.
Right now, the plans are to monitor television broadcasting of baseball clips, but it seems the techology could be used to tightly control the use of digital video on the internet as well in the future.