You have heard of the Taliban, there is now a new tribe, the Photoban, with Southampton FC of all people leading its charge.
I hope the Plymouth Herald does not charge me for using its cartoon, but I am celebrating its creativity in responding to a ban by Southampton FC on ‘non-official’ photographers.
Faced with the prospect of either paying for ‘official’ photos of the recent Southampton v Plymouth Argyle Division 1 encounter (which Plymouth apparently deservedly won 1-0) or not having any photos in its match report, the Herald chose another route: it got an artist to produce cartoons of the match action.
Underlying this seemingly whimsical encounter is one of the major business questions of our era: how do you make your revenue potential sweat in an era of free information resources?
For Southampton their actions in trying to get additional income by limiting access for photographers to its ground so it can charge for ‘official’ photos may be short-sighted.
As Herald editor Bill Martin responded by arguing that restricting access for photographers was a “serious restriction” for press freedom. If professional sports clubs want to… restrict the press’s access to reporting their matches, little by little the press are going to report their matches less and less”
“The first people to suffer will be the fans… and the next people to suffer after that will be the sponsors…. A decision like this also damages the image of football as a whole.”
Mr Martin encouraged other newspapers faced with the same problem to follow his lead and the newspaper is apparently, now looking at using the artist’s work every week. [Which I hope it does].
For Southampton FC its challenge is how to create as many revenue streams and opportunities as possible. With a tradition of free content of not charging for press photographers at matches, it presumably saw an additional pot of gold.
Instead, it has become the subject of ridicule and ultimately may not get its expected financial dividend.
It’s a big challenge for any media owner and media content creator of how do you migrate what was free of charge to pay for.
Rupert Murdoch is finding it challenging with his Pay Walls for a number of his titles. I wonder if there will be an army of cartoonist depicting the content of ‘The Times’?
Just a thought….