This is part 2 of a 6 part series aiming to outline and analyse the media and digital transformations that have been prevalent in sport since its competitive creation, taking a more detailed look into football in the UK particularly.
In the last blog of this series we discussed the past media ecology transformations, identifying the 4 main ‘take off points’. This blog is therefore going to be looking to understand the present media ecology in sport in comparison to that of the past (read here). As stated before, media ecology is the name given to the study of the media’s structure, content and impact on people. The introduction with digital media over the past 20/30 years has disrupted the traditional media ecology, and has created a new environment.
New media is characterised by its differentiation from traditional media which was one-way and standardised, and instead allows for a complex interactive network of communication (McQuail & Deuze, 2020). By allowing for the audience to have more input and create their own content, it diminishes the power of the large corporations and governments. That being said, media corporations still hold dominance over the industry and have control over what we do/do not see.
Sports fans now have access to all of these new opportunities, thus turning their one-dimensional experience of sport through the media, into one that is interactive and allows for individualisation. However, these characteristics of new media are not intended to entirely replace traditional media, but instead act as an extension and work simultaneously
Digital media has introduced the world to 5 new main characteristics of media (McQuail & Dueze, 2020), these include:
- Interpersonal Communication – This includes the likes of messaging apps, like Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger, that allow for communication between 2 or more users. Fans often look to interact socially with like minded individuals with common interests, and as a result fandom group chats are often set up, for example “Fans of Leeds United” or “Football in the UK fans” (Fillis & Mackay, 2013)
- Interactive play media – The introduction of video games, including sports games like FIFA, allow for users to create their own sporting experience. What’s more it has been the creation of sports video games like FIFA that has introduced football to new fans, particularly its popularisation in the USA (Markovits & Green, 2016)
- Information search media – The use of the World Wide Web allows users to search up almost any fact about a player, team, event or sport they wish.
- Collective participatory media – Social networking sites, like instagram or twitter, all allow users to create their own content, and input on others. Social media has become an integral part of daily life for many all over the world (Yuksal et al, 2016), and sport, particularly football, have capitalised of their millions of followers (Manchester United for example have over 140 million followers on instagram).
- Substitutes of broadcast media – Digital Streaming services able users to watch sporting events online, often meaning they do not have to pay for certain TV packages and instead a smaller fee.
However, even though the aim of new media is to supplement and aid that of traditional media it does come with consequences in relation to production, distribution and reception. The Premier League in the UK, is one of the first major sporting events to host some of their events digitally through their new deal with Amazon Prime. This move is directing millions within the UK away from traditional broadcasting into a subscription service, of which many people already pay for other benefits anyway making it a much better deal.
Is traditional media going to be able to coincide with new digital media? Or will it be completely taken over? More will be discussed in my next blog!
Until then, tell me what you think in the comments & don’t forget to give a thumbs up!