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Fans of the Seattle Reign FC will be able to watch the team perform in Portland tonight, tuning in via Periscope
Seattle Reign fans will be able to watch the team perform in Portland tonight, tuning in via Periscope

Twitter’s newly-launched Periscope application allows just about anyone to broadcast live video via the social network.

Now, a Seattle sports franchise is looking to kick off one of the more interesting uses of the video streaming application.

Seattle Reign coach Laura Harvey with owner Bill Predmore
Seattle Reign coach Laura Harvey with owner Bill Predmore

The Seattle Reign FC — an inaugural member of the National Women’s Soccer League — plans to broadcast their pre-season match Saturday evening against the University of Portland via Periscope. You can watch the game at 7 p.m. on the team’s Twitter feed: @SeattleReignFC.

Reign FC owner Bill Predmore, who sold the digital agency POP to Advance Communications in 2013, said they chose Periscope over video streaming service Meerkat because of its ability to archive live broadcasts and also because of its deep integration with Twitter. Twitter throttled Meerkat’s access to the social network’s data graph earlier this month, severely hampering the service.

The video set-up for tonight’s game will be “insanely simple,” said Predmore. Just an iPhone 6+ mounted on a tripod.

“As this channel develops we are considering adding an external mic to allow a play-by-play announcer to accompany the broadcast, but for now we think simple is better,” said Predmore. “Even in the best-case scenario we won’t achieve the fidelity of a typical broadcast, but Periscope will allow us to spin up broadcasts at times and locations we would have never considered in the past.”

Seattle Reign FC owner Bill Predmore
Seattle Reign FC owner Bill Predmore

For example, he said the team is considering broadcasting locker room interviews. Depending upon the reaction to tonight’s game in Portland, Predmore said they also are considering posting cameras on the bench and behind the goal. They’ve already experimented with streaming training sessions, something that fans had never experienced before.

At this point, Predmore said that the Periscope broadcast is mainly about the fan experience, but it could be used for training, scouting or player development.

“For instance, being able to watch a training session from a team in Europe or Japan would give us the chance to see a player that would otherwise be challenging to scout,” he said. “We also expect other use-cases to emerge as the technology matures.”

Speaking of the maturation of the technology, Periscope and other mobile video sharing apps will pose new questions for sports franchises and leagues.

A pre-season match is one thing, but a full match where TV rights may be involved is another. Predmore said that leagues will need to adjust to Periscope and other video sharing apps.

Interestingly, the NFL just this past week announced that it will broadcast a regular season game strictly over the Internet, the first time for the football league. That game — the Jacksonville Jaguars against the Buffalo Bills — will take place during week seven of the NFL season in London.

Predmore said that rights issues will vary from league to league.

“In our specific situation, we believe we have the right to broadcast pre-season matches without any issues,” he said. “For regular-season matches we have — as a league — collectively agreed to produce our own live broadcasts and distribute them via YouTube, plus work with a national broadcaster — such as ESPN or FOX — on a handful of national TV games.  As such, for regular season matches Periscope would be considered a promotional initiative designed to supplement the primary broadcast.”

Looking at the issue more broadly, Predmore said it will be interesting to see how leagues react to fans independently broadcasting via Periscope. After all, fans currently Tweet or post short videos on Facebook from games.

“The (National Women’s Soccer League) has not specifically addressed the issue thus far, but I would imagine all leagues will be forced to address the question pretty quickly,” said Predmore.

Editor’s note: GeekWire co-founder John Cook occasionally plays pick-up soccer with Reign FC owner Bill Predmore, and always seems to cause injuries for the tech exec, including his last two ankle sprains. 

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