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Volume 26 No. 109
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NFL Relaxes Some Restrictions On Teams' Use Of Social Media

The NFL has further liberalized its social media rules for teams, allowing them to have an official presence on both TikTok and Reddit following league-level partnerships announced with those platforms this week. Also, teams will be able to expand their use of Instagram to include a capped number of highlights on gamedays, permission that had previously been limited to Facebook and Twitter. The changes are part of an ongoing effort at NFL HQ to balance teams' desires to aggressively market to young, digitally oriented fans while also protecting the league's intellectual property and valuable broadcast rights packages. According a memo detailing the updated regulations, a key league objective is a "strong focus on introducing the younger, 12-24 potential fans to the game of football." The full list of authorized social media platforms includes Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, Pinterest, Reddit, Snapchat, TikTok, Tumblr, Twitter and YouTube.

TWITCH NOT INCLUDED: A key exception to the liberalization trend: Amazon-owned live video streaming site Twitch, the most popular destination for video game streaming and esports. Twitch's absence was not explained to clubs, but the NFL believes it presents special challenges because its users are streaming truly live video, not sharing content in near-real-time like on most other social media. Through the NFL's media deal with Amazon, a condensed "Thursday Night Football" package will be broadcast on Twitch for the second consecutive season along with Prime Video, which has aired some Thursday contests since the '17 season. TikTok, an app that lets users create short-form videos, is among the fastest-growing apps in the world and is especially popular among teens and college students. Reddit, a site more than 14 years old, facilitates sharing of content and conversations among like-minded fans in small, self-governed communities. Club digital content teams welcomed the flexibility, saying they want to have their brand anywhere fans gather online. Three different teams said Instagram is now where they have the most fan engagement, and the updated highlight-sharing rules reflect the platform's evolution from a static photo-sharing medium to more of a real-time "second screen" experience like Twitter. The more recent changes come on the heels of multiple amendments shared by the league office with clubs this summer, which included more revised guidelines for teams' use of social media and additional rules about how clubs utilize connected TV platforms.