Continuities and Discontinuities in Sport Media

Following on my previous discussion about digital disruption on traditional sport media ecology (see post here) today I will reflect on how this disruption is not a complete break from the past but expresses both through continuities and discontinuities.

As I have shown on other posts like this one on Le Tour de France and Twitter (see post), or this one on the Bundesliga and Twitter (see post), or even this one on UFC and Twitter (see post) the so-called digital transformation have altered – or disrupted – the once sedimented media roles (see post here) by allowing audiences to bypass traditional content producers and connect directly to star athletes in what I called as Illusion of Intimacy 2.0 (see here). In a certain fashion, this digital transformation in sport produced discontinuities in the way we as audience prosume content by shifting the power balance and blurring the lines between who are the sender and receiver.

It is often said that one of the biggest digital disruptions is the move away from one-way communication – the traditional way analogue mass media operate – to two-way communication where true conversations take place in both dyad and triad. This form of digital transformation can be seen in the examples in the paragraph above, but did it change how traditional sport media operate? Or are they doing the same but in a different environment – from the analogue to the digital world?

To check if there are still elements of continuities in the digitally disrupted sport media environment I have collected the user network of six different British sport media channels – their presence on Twittersphere or Twitterverse. The layout of the social network graph below shows nodes sized by their authority and coloured by their community (the audience who engage with them), while the edges (the lines) are coloured by their type (purple = mention {77%}; orange = retweet {15%}; green = quote {7%}).

social network analysis of six British sport media channels on Twitter
Social Network Analysis of six British sport media channels on Twitter

As for continuities it is possible to perceive that those six sport media channels posses the higher authority within the network, especially BBC Sport, Mail Sport, and The Guardian Sport. As for the edges what they show is that mostly those six sport media channels operate in a similar fashion to what they do in their analogue state: they broadcast news on a one-way communication. When others are mentioned (mention, retweet, or quote) by them those are either other institutions within that media conglomerate as 5 Live Sport, BBC iPlayer, BBC Two, or BBC MOTD, or journalists who have written those stories as within the The Guardian Sport community.

In a certain way, this sort of continuity reinforces the notion that two-way communication is more an Illusion of Intimacy 2.0 as rarely – or almost never – those institutions engage in true conversation. What they are doing is more of the same; continuing to broadcast news but this time in this digital environment.


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