Has Convergence Culture Taken Over Sport?

In today’s sport media world, we are witnessing a moment where traditional media such as newspaper and radio are colliding with new media platforms that put the power into consumers to interact and communicate. Arguably, is most suitable to describing the symbiotic relationship between sport and the media.


Ultimately, convergence represents a cultural shift as consumer seek out continuous new information and make connections among all the dispersed media content (Jenkins, 2006), the point of collision and intersection represents the convergence. A key argument emphasises that old and new media can now co-exist using technological and cultural levels. Sport organisations are seeking how to extend it’s own content across multiple platforms, through spreadability. This refers to the technical, economical, content attributes and social networks that attracts audiences and increases engagement (Jenkins et al., 2013). Elements of technological, global, cultural, social and economic convergence make up the media ecosystem, with the advancement in technology lowering the costs of production.


How does this relate to sport specifically?

Sporting organisations need to monetise it’s spreadable media content to create engagement opportunities on it’s platforms, creating production of value from the consumer. However, fans can create this transmedia storytelling themselves (as shown below), with the post match interview. By providing this content, Brentford FC can analyse the frequency of interaction with the content and any cultural changes in opinion from the replies and use of the hashtag specific to the fixture. The disruptive nature of the sports media dynamic means the conversations were shaped on non-traditional media outlets such as major broadcaster, but rather on a social media site where fans can act as adders of value, even in an economical sense. Arguably, these can be described as grassroot intermediaries, being unofficial parties who can aid the flow of content. This hashtag was also distributed across the Premier League’s social media accounts, to circulate the message through this network of footballing fans further through generational barriers.


Discussions around convergence culture

Particularly in football, the issue of piracy can reduce the control of messages throughout the transmedia network, during the Premier League 2019/20 season, 300,000 live streams were blocked or disrupted in the UK alone. Considering consumers should now be considered multipliers of the production of value (Jenkins et al., 2013) through intelligence and imagination, analytics need to be considered across multiple platforms whilst continuing to expand the touch points of the sporting brands, rather than focusing on impressions or viewing figurers. Sports betting is particularly prominent in football, particularly, as Gonzalez and Griffiths (2018) suggest , these convergences will only continue in more un-predictable ways with; digitalization, sportification and gamblification reaching beyond the realm of sports betting and open the possibility for a radically new way of consuming mediated sport.

Sport is largely appealing due to moving away from passive traditional audiences to engaged immersive digital experiences such as VR/AR and e-sports, with modern cross-promotion methods within sports and betting to converge completely separate markets.


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