The NFL is now monitoring how much video footage its teams post on social media, according to Deadspin, which dug up the fact in an MMQB column. The NFL’s primetime audience numbers are down—especially in the coveted 18-to-49 demographic—and this seems to be part of the league’s response, though the NFL denies there is a correlation.
The new rules are especially strict in the hour before games, as well as during the games themselves. Teams could be fined as much as $100,000 (on their third offense), and could lose their rights to share league-controlled content.
These rules reportedly go into effect next Wednesday, Oct. 12.
The probable scenario: TV numbers are down, fans have access to highlights on social media—and can sometimes even watch full games on Twitter—and the league is realizing this could all combine to impact its next TV deal. The major networks are currently paying an average of $5 billion a year for football rights, through 2021.
Though the NFL remains far and away the most popular American sporting league, the NBA is rapidly gaining ground, and the NFL has almost certainly taken notice.
The logic seems backward, though. It is unlikely that many more fans are going to tune in Sundays at 1 p.m. simply because extended highlights are unavailable on Twitter. The highlights can always be found elsewhere.