An analysis of Digital Disruption and how this has influenced the Golf industry

In our first blog within this series, we identified how past media ecology attached itself sport, specifically golf, and the implications these mediums had on the development of the sport and how this aided in the promotion of hegemonic masculinity. Our next blog then looked into the present media ecology in sport and how the internet transformed the way in which we consume media and sport and unprecedented levels. We discovered how Golf may not have utilised these new mediums such as Instagram and Youtube effectively and demonstrated how this may have negatively impacted youth golf participation rates, an example of how digital disruption is impacting the current sporting landscape.

But what exactly is Digital Disruption? The term derived from new digital innovations ability to reconfigure and create new markets, thus ‘disrupting’ the status quo. Baiyere & Hukal (2020) define Digital Disruption as “the alteration of a domain-specific paradigm due to the digital attributes of an innovation”, which has enabled organisations to create and deliver novel offerings at unprecedented speed, scale, and scope. This digital revolution was perceived as the beginning of the end for many older traditional mediums, yet many have been able to adapt and develop new functions (i.e. moving online) which has allowed these mediums such as magazines to find new audiences within the space and create somewhat of a co-existence within the mass media.

Traditional sport media was often comprised of discrete individual sub-markets, often separated due to the type of medium, with the majority of these being regulated by the state (see here). Again, TV dominated this setting and continues to do so currently. However, the digital revolution we are currently undergoing has the potential to disrupt and alter the sport spectator landscape. For instance, entry barriers have diminished significantly, allowing for more smaller distribution channels to emerge and provide quality and sought after content. This has caused the market to become saturated and has created a volatile environment, specifically, in relation to media rights holders. Previously, media rights were often occupied by one or two organisations and the viewer would pay a subscription fee to that provider to access the content.

In recent years these media rights have began to change hands as the market becomes less monopolised. For instance, golf media rights in the UK was traditionally controlled by BBC until Sky secured the media rights for the coverage of the PGA Tour and European Tour content, with the majors being distributed on both Sky and the BBC. In 2017, Sky secured the rights to The Open Championship after paying a £75 million fee, this deal ended the BBC’s 60 year ownership rights of The Open.

More recently, this diffusion of media rights has only intensified, previous long term media deals that Sky and the BBC occupied are being shortened as emerging organisations will pay larger fees to secure the broadcasting rights. For instance, in 2022, when Sky will need to renew their PGA Tour media rights, it may be difficult due to the PGA Tour and Discovery Inc forming a deal in excess of $2 billion for the Tour’s international broadcasting rights, broadcast on GOLFTV. This means Sky Sports will have to negotiate a deal with a direct competitor in order to secure the rights within the UK, I have a feeling that Discovery Inc will drive a hard bargain!

Confirmation of the media rights deal made between the PGA Tour and Discovery Inc.

In our next blog we will introduce Convergence Culture to the series, and how the traditional media is currently colliding with new emerging mediums in the fight to compete within the sport media landscape.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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