Sunday, September 01, 2013

How Google Glass Disrupts The Sports Image Monopoly

I was attending a golf tournament this weekend. So naturally my thoughts turned to technology. Yes it was everywhere. But the most disruptive technology was in taking pictures and videos. There were a lot of people telling people not to take pictures. To put away the cell phone. The PGA doesn’t want anyone taking pictures, video or even audio of the event other than accredited photo journalists and the TV company with a contract to broadcast the event. Why? To preserve the value of the images and especially the broadcast rights of the event. They make serious money off of these things.

IN fact pretty much any sporting event one attends has restrictions on photography or even the broadcasting of status and events as they occur. Check your tickets – it’s there. The organizers want to have a monopoly on the information so that people have to buy tickets or watch coverage that someone pays the league/organizers to present. Technology is already starting to impinge on that monopoly.

For all the people watching and telling people to put their phones away people were still getting images and posting them live on the Internet. Shocking I know. People ignoring what is in theory a contract not to do so. One could get into all sorts of discussion of why that is involving ego and people not understanding why the rules are there but it is all besides the point. The point is that technology is making this all too easy to stop. Google Glass and the inevitable follow ons from other companies are going to make this that much more of a problem for the sports monopolies.

I suspect that at some point they will wake up and outright ban Google Glass in many venues. This will start a technology way which the content providers will ultimately and invariably lose. This is probably not going to completely blow up the model of course. People will still pay for the close-up shots that only a high powered camera in a tower or a crane can provide. They will still pay for the commentary. And the information about how far away from the hole the ball is. People are not going to be satisfied with the images from small personal portable devices. But fear will drive the monopolies to try to stop it. That is exactly the wrong thing to do though.

The smart monopolies will create apps for these devices and sell subscription services for them. People at the event are going to be very likely to be willing to pay for information being streamed right to their eyeballs using their Google Glass. At an event like the Deutsche Bank Championship (where I was this weekend) they can’t afford to put bit LED signs at every hole and at every viewing sport. But using the networking they must all ready be setting up they could stream that information to people wearing Glass with subscription services.

Ball parks could do the same at baseball games, soccer games, and pretty much anything else. Augmented Reality could really change the way people at a live event watched a live event. And make people money. The question is will companies see the value of a new revenue model or fight to hold on to an old model in a losing battle?

1 comment:

Jim Peters said...

Gillette Stadium (Home of the New England Patriots) have already started down this road..