An Analysis of New Platforms in a Newer Sport Media Ecology

The development of digital media has brought about the emergence of several new media platforms for sports content to be distributed from. Web 2.0’s creative, democratic, interactive and complex network characteristics has fostered the platformisation of social media, apps, E-sports and VR/AR as channels for sporting content (Lindgren, 2017). Social media’s defining attributes and features that make it a suitable platform for distributing sport are; its participation enabling framework, community features and content agnostic nature (Lindgren, 2017). These new platforms all have different features that affect their fittingness and way in which they deliver content:

  • Facebook– this platform has provided sport with an atmosphere to help shape consumer experiences and cultural practices through the delivery of sporting content (Bucher, 2021). Facebook is free to use, thus helping it accumulate 2.89 billion users (Statista, 2021), whom sports teams can reach with their content. Sport entities use Facebook to interact with fans, in particular through the communication of CSR campaigns (Devlin and Sheehan, 2018). Facebook is also used for image repair following scandals (Frederick et al, 2021). Facebook diverts traffic to content based on user preferences, so users who are interested in sport will be diverted to posts containing sports content, with successful teams content obtaining more engagement (Bucher, 2021; Devlin and Sheehan, 2018). Teams monetise their Facebook posts by having adverts displayed on the content (during videos) (Bucher, 2021).
  • Instagram– Instagram allows teams and athletes to post pictures to their account, as well as uploading stories for their followers to engage and keep up-to-date with (Leaver et al, 2020). Instagram has facilitated athletes becoming influencers and being able to express their personal identities beyond professional sport (Toffoletti and Thorpe, 2018). Instagram’s sports content is either product-related (players/staff) or non-product-related (sponsors/fans/values/events). The Model of Athlete branding suggests sports content focuses on athletic performance, attractive appearance and marketable lifestyle; with athletic performance posts having the highest engagement levels (Doyle et al, 2020). Teams/athletes monetise their Instagram through paid/sponsored posts (Leaver et al, 2020).
  • Twitter– Twitter enables global public interactions, as well as encouraging users to be prosumers who decide what to share and view on their feed (Murthy, 2018). Sports teams can curate their profiles to provide eventful and positive short-lived experiences to followers (Murthy, 2018). Twitter is a medium for telepresence in sport, through tweets bypassing traditional gatekeepers and allowing teams to constantly be in-touch with fans, thus making twitter an integral part of sport consumption culture (Pegoraro, 2014). Federations/teams/players are the most influential sport Twitter users.
  • YouTube– YouTube utilises Web 2.0 to allow sport organisations to share videos on the content agnostic platform (Burgess and Green, 2018). Sport organisations can monetise their YouTube channels by having adverts on their videos or by charging for premium content (Burgess & Green, 2018). YouTube is an alternative to TV for sports content, with teams using their personal channels to share shorter format content such as match highlights. The short format content allows teams to appeal to Gen Z fans. YouTube allows for deeper interactivity, on-demand and real-time access to content, prosumption and hybrid modes of communication (McQuail & Deuze, 2020).
  • Fantasy Sport/AR-VR/E-Sports– Virtual platforms that allow users to consume and play a multitude of sport-related games/content whenever and wherever they wish (Miah, 2017). These platforms allow consumers to interact with one another and form relationships based around their chosen sport (Crawford et al, 2011). The sale of the platforms/games can generate revenue for sport organisations (Crawford et al, 2011).

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