Blog Post

Ad Week ’06: Gary Bettman, Commissioner, NHL; Mobile Slingbox User

Early in the USA Today panel on sports Thursday afternoon, NHL Commssioner Gary Bettman talked about the latest gadget from his IT department: a Motorola Q phone loaded with Slingbox Mobile so he can keep track of games via the Slingbox-DirecTV set-up in his office. “I can watch any of my games live,” he explained. I asked afterward about the legal issues involved in place shifting, also admitting that I watched much of the 2006 Stanley Cup playoffs on a laptop via my home Slingbox,
On Slingbox: “It’s something that everybody is going to have to take a good, close look at. On the one hand, I’m told that most people are using the shifting in their homes, on their computer, laptop in the garage while they’re cleaning it. To the extent that it’s being used out of market, that’s something everybody’s going to have to take a look at. … It varies by the kind of programming, Somebody might make the argument that I have my favorite teams on pay cable, I pay for it at home, why does it matter where I’m watching? But if you’re making movies you want it a certain way … Do rights holders have the right to control how their product is viewed? I’m not answering that question right now.”
On YouTube: “You have some of the same issues in the debate going on over YouTube as well. … On YouTube it’s like somebody’s taking content that I own and using it. The fact that they may not be getting compensated for it doesn’t change the issue.”
On league involvement: When I asked at what point this becomes something the league has to get involved in, Bettman replied: “I think it’s something that all leagues are studying as we speak. It’s a fast-changing world and everybody’s got to be very mindful of the developments.”
On NHL digital strategy: “We went through a period of time when we were focused on survival, not growing our business. Now, we’re doing the types of things, we’re investing the money and the manpower to make sure that we’re state of the art for our fans.”
On Mobile ESPN’s demise: “The world’s changing fast. that’s an example where a company’s trying to get its hands around new technology. Fosters, the most recent advertising campaign is all viral, no traditional media. Everybody who’s interacting with consumers is going to have to go to school … If you don’t try new things, you’ll never succeed.”