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Why the Canucks YouTube’s “Game in Five” has become “Game in Two”

NHL’s deal with MLB Advanced Media limiting official videos and gifs.
Canucks Game in Two

Shortly after the completion of a Canucks game, the team’s official YouTube account uploads a highlight package full of the biggest moments from the game: hits, saves, and, of course, goals. Those highlight videos used to be five minutes long, with the eponymous moniker “Game in Five.”

During the pre-season, however, those videos were truncated to “Game in Two,” a two-minute highlight package that leaves little room for anything but goals and a save or two. Fans have noticed the difference. While one should generally avoid the YouTube comment section, the “Game in Two” videos are full of comments like “Where’s game in 5?” “bring back game in 5,” “KEEP DISLIKEING (sic) THE VID UNTIL GAME IN 5,” and “GAME IN 5!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Some have suggested that these shorter videos might just be for the pre-season, holding out hope that the longer highlight packages would return for opening night. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case and the Canucks themselves are not the ones to blame.

When the NHL turned over their digital media properties to MLB Advanced Media in 2015, some worried that this would lead to a crackdown on fan-made gifs and videos. Other sports leagues, including MLB, have cracked down on what they see as copyright infringement on social media in the past, leading to deleted YouTube accounts, deleted Twitter gifs, and Twitter suspensions for videos and animated gifs. It seems like an archaic policy that actually limits fan engagement and could lead to a smaller audience for the sport in an increasingly online and live-streamed world. Such a policy would be particularly costly for a perpetually fourth-place sport like hockey in the US.

Over the past two years, we haven’t seen the same approach taken in the NHL. Hockey Twitter is full of animated gifs, whether it’s highlight-reel goals or sneaky infringements of the rules. As long as it’s fan-made and no one’s making any money off it, the NHL and MLBAM don’t seem to mind.

That’s not going to be the case going forward for official team accounts, however. Official accounts, like @Canucks, will apparently be limited to just two animated gifs of game action during a game. That means you won’t be able to depend on @Canucks to tweet out a gif of every goal the Canucks score, unless they only score two per game, which is a distinct possibility.

Similarly, within 24 hours of the game, official team accounts will be limited to just a few minutes of highlight footage. While I am unsure of the exact limit, it was suggested that the limit was three minutes. That would give the Canucks YouTube account two minutes for the “Game in Two” and another minute for an important highlight, such as Daniel’s expected 1000th point this season.

This doesn’t impact every team’s social media strategy the same way. Not every team publishes game highlights on their YouTube account, for instance, with many focussing on post-game interviews or attempts at viral videos. Perhaps this is also why the Canucks have been shooting video of the players to turn into reaction gifs for use on Twitter in lieu of a highlight.

The reason why the NHL and MLBAM would make this call seems pretty obvious: they want to direct fans to their own media. Shortly after the opening night games were complete on Wednesday, the NHL posted both 7-minute highlight videos and slightly more condensed 4-5 minute videos for each game. Each video of course comes with an ad.

In a way, this lets the NHL have their cake and eat it too: they can make the point that they’re not restricting fan-made content, while simultaneously drawing traffic away from team-run social media to their own accounts.

It does, however, mean there will be no more “Game in Five.”