After hearing about an on and off court verbal incident with Carmelo Anthony and the visiting Kevin Garnett, the New York Knicks decided to use their sophisticated in-arena recording devices to tape all the in-game banter. Deemed a preventative measure by the home team, this type of footage has traditionally always been private domain in pro sports. Sure, highlight packages have been created and with a booming John Facenda backdrop, snippets of palatable player tete-a-tetes have been doled out to the fans. But imagine if this access was not restricted – and sponsorable.
Right now, at the four golf Majors, you can access your favorite foursome from your iPhone and follow them all day long even while the TV coverage only covers every 5th shot. But even this incredible inside look is devoid of audio. Quite possibly the only exception to this restriction is NASCAR where fans can listen in to the repartee between their favorite left-turn expert and the crew chief all race long. This is wildly popular and already tagged with multiple sponsors. The interesting sidenote here is how well behaved these athletes are knowing the red action light is always on. NFL Films has wired athletes for sound for 30 years, but the editing room floor is infinitely more crowded than the tape left for broadcast.
Experiment. Let a limited and well paying group get true all-access to their favorite player for a quarter, a half or a game. Let these folks have a split screen on their iPad with game action supplemented with an ISO camera. You want pay-per-views to actually mean something special? Whoa! And then sponsor the hell out of it. Oh, and the wonderful side effect? Watching as on-court/on-field behavior radically improve as these prima donnas realize that Big Brother is over their shoulder… Money in, behavior improves and interest level unprecedented.
Do you think that the players would clean up their acts? Is it too risky for a brand to attach their name to the Kevin Durants or Kobe Bryants of the game? Would this be the final nail in the coffin for the in-game experience?