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Dan Snyder Takes on The Washington Post

The Washington Post officially changed the name of its “Redskins Insider” blog, webcast, and twitter handle to “Football Insider” or simply “The Insider” at the behest of none other than Dan Snyder. Why? Because Snyder and the franchise have become increasingly strict about the use of the Redskins brand name. The Washington Post writer Paul Farhi explained the move best, writing:

“The Redskins, who have been at the forefront in creating their own multimedia operations, have been aggressive in policing the use and misuse of their “brand” by others.

For many years, the “Redskins” name was used freely in the titles of local sports highlight shows on TV and radio. No longer. The team put an end to the practice several years ago, now only permitting “authorized” uses of its name — that is, under contractual agreement. Comcast SportsNet is the “official” TV network of the team, for example, and airs a highlight program called “Redskins Nation” hosted by Larry Michael, a broadcaster who is an employee of the team. At the same time, the Redskins produce a half-dozen interview and promotional TV shows through the team-owned Redskins Broadcast Network. The programs air on local stations during the football season.

The Redskins recently asked The Washington Post to rename the newspaper’s video webcast and blog about the team, which was called “Redskins Insider,” according to people who have knowledge of the circumstances. The team had used the name “Redskins Insider” first, and The Post agreed to switch to “Football Insider.””

By setting up contractual licensing agreements with companies wanting to use the team name, Dan Snyder achieves two basic goals. First, he makes money. News organizations and other businesses that want to use the team name will have to pay licensing fees to the franchise for the privilege. For some, attracting the interest and attention of the massive Redskins fan base will be worth the cost. For others, such as The Washington Post, abandoning the team name makes more sense.

In this situation, Snyder benefits in a second way. He can exercise a measure of control over the outlets disseminating information about his business, which is particularly useful when said outlets publish unflattering material. Though there are a plethora of smaller Redskins blogs using the team name without the contractual consent of the franchise, those websites have considerably smaller readerships and, presumably, influence than “The Insider.” The franchise cannot possibly police or hope to extract payment from every blog using Redskins in its title; in essence, Snyder has bigger fish to fry.

If the small blogs are guppies, “The Insider” is the great white shark of independent online Redskins coverage. Now, someone who has not read or heard of the “The Insider” will have no way to know that it is dedicated to Redskins news by its title. How does this benefit Snyder? Franchise-owned news outlets bearing the team name will be more recognizable to newcomers as Redskins-specific sources than “The Insider” will be. Also, Snyder-backed media likely will present the team more favorably than an independent source like The Washington Post would.

In the grand scheme of things, however, the name change has little impact on the blog’s already massive readership. The readers of “Redskins Insider,” which is one of the paper’s most viewed blogs, will wonder why the title changed and discover that Dan Snyder (not the most popular figure among Redskins fans at the moment) is the culprit. Snyder and the Redskins also lose the free promotion that comes with a column named after the team in one of the nation’s most prominent newspapers.

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4 Responses to “Dan Snyder Takes on The Washington Post”

  1. Steve in TN says:

    Yeah, Snyder stinks.

  2. FMJohnson says:

    Just curious…are you concerned about a cease-and-desist letter showing up in your mail?

    Your small-blog-big-blog explanation makes perfect sense. But does it make sense to Snyder? Why wouldn’t he go after any blogger, large or small, who uses the name and logos etc. without licensing them?

    He does, in fact, own the ExtremeSkins blog, so his lawyers could say that you or other independent bloggers are using his trademarks in competition with his “officially sanctioned ‘independent’ blog” (almost a contradiction in terms). He certainly has the money to rattle several cages to make some examples, just as the RIAA did by suing grandmothers and high-school kids for thousands of dollars for illegal file-sharing.

    I’m reminded of the time many years ago when Disney went after three daycare centers in Florida because the owner had decorated the walls with personally hand-painted Disney characters. Disney was perfectly within their rights to do so. But it certainly seemed petty and Scrooge-like given Disney’s mission of making kiddies happy.

    That would be about like Snyder coming after you or other small indy bloggers who are fans of the team and just enjoy blogging about it. Since we know Snyder doesn’t have a very good perspective on such things (see “Snyder v. Atalaya Capital Management [Washington City Paper]”), his giving you and other small indy bloggers “The Insider Treatment” is not out of the realm of possibilities.

    (The nice postscript to the Disney v. Daycare story: Hanna-Barbera sent their graphics department to professionally decorate her daycare centers with their characters for free. This was back in the 80s, way before the 24/7 news cycle and social media. If that happened today, the story would have been a much larger embarrassment to Disney than it already was.

  3. B. Good says:

    Here’s a work-around that *might* work: Make your “Redskins Blog” all about some local team called the Redskins. THEN, have a prominent link at the top that says “If you were looking for a blog about the professional football team, please try this link instead.” 😀

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