An Analysis of Digital Disruption in Sport

According to the exponential rise of digital media since the 1990s/2000s as a result of Web 1.0 & 2.0 introduction has led to the co-existence, rather than replacement, of new and older media forms. New media refers to any form of media that is interactive, such as online blogs & social media platforms, where two way communication occurs with users becoming prosumers rather than just consumers. As a result of these new platforms, McQuail & Deuze (2020) have explained that we now have a highly complex network of communication that act as an accelerator for social trends and cultures. Through the development of new media more traditional forms of media, such as newspapers & radio, have seen their power become disrupted as a result of uni way communication. For example, social media platforms enable us to instantly react and produce content about the latest sport action we are consuming as shown in the thread of the tweet below about Nick Kyrigos’ recent exit from the Australian Open. Sports fans have taken to the idea of social media enabling us to engage with each other, our favourite athletes, teams, leagues and so on.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic traditional and new digital media forms have converged to co-exist in an unprecedented fashion, a theory developed by Henry Jenkins. Sport in itself is most often consumed live therefore the most valuable asset broadcast companies have to sell is live pictures of sport action. As a result of this the majority of media companies have invested heavily in sport in order to acquire digital rights packages for live sport. One such example is Disney who recently acquired Star Sports in India in order to deepen their investment in the sports industry despite already owning ESPN in the USA. Upon the launch of their Disney Plus streaming service the company has now gone on to include Hulu, ESPN, Disney & Hotstar within digital rights packages. This investment has enabled content owners to connect direct to their users, a move that could be seen as a further step in the direction pay to watch events. A direct to consumer model of broadcasting is a highly debated topic at the minute after the Premier League’s failure to implement a pay-per-view (PPV) model during the COVID-19 lockdown. It is believed that in order for older forms of media to survive in the rapidly changing diverse competitive industry they will need to adapt their formats and develop new functions which enable them to better attract new audiences.

Whilst new media platforms have transcended the way in which we consume live content in many positives ways it also has its own issues such as instability, reliance on other technology (internet) and the ability for extremism. Whilst social media has enabled fans and athletes to better interact and give fans the opportunity to be as close as ever before to their favourite athletes, teams and leagues it has also become a platform whereby athletes are suffering from abuse over poor performance and decision making in extremely high pressure situations. Anybody can see the massive positives in newer media forms enabling interaction between different stakeholders within sports. However, the unintended consequences of these newer forms at times make us wonder whether or not the positives outweigh the negatives when enabling interactive features, particularly if these platforms are used in the wrong way. Furthermore, digital media requires access to Web 1.0 & 2.0 features that enable us to interact. Therefore, if other technology is faulty, such as internet connection, these digitalised platforms and content have minimal value whereas older forms of media (newspaper and radio) do not rely on technology and rely purely on man power.

The co-existence of old and new media forms has forced companies to adopt new skills, adapt their functions and offerings in order to gather a new audience. This development has opened up possibilities for adaptation of skillsets, offerings and growth. Although newer media forms are fantastic in terms of their capabilities to bring people together regardless of factors, such as geographic location & public health pandemics, they also present many problems that impact people in a much more severe way, particularly in regards to extremism and piracy.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a website or blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: