Here is the final blog post within the series, I hope you have enjoyed the content so far! Having reached the fourth instalment, it is only right to examine the future of the sporting media environment. This comes from have already looked at both past and present media transformations, along with the disruptions that come with the additional technology. This blog will look to underpin more theories into the creation of virtual reality (VR) and the rise of the eSport environment.
One of the biggest talking points to consider at the moment is the difficulty in being able to identify what actually counts as a sport in this modern era. Many agree with the viewpoint that more traditional sports are only acceptable due to the physical exertion placed on the individual. However, research shows that based on its formal definition, eSports are to be considered a sport, and it is only a matter of time before the idea is aligned with more current views due to the importance of technology in the modern world (Filchenko, 2018).
The rise of eSports is a major factor that looks to challenge the participation of physical activity for the younger generation of consumers especially. Individuals no longer just play on games consoles and online for pure entertainment value, there is now opportunity for competition with tangible rewards available for the highest performers (Jonasson and Thiborg, 2010). The profitability and development of futuristic methods of gaming such as eSports and VR has not gone unnoticed, with it being reported that the eSports community generated upwards of $465million to the economy in 2017 (Rosell-Llorens, 2017).
The rewards for this type of gaming are only going to grow bigger, suggesting that future trends are likely to sway towards the consumption of eSports and other online realities. This is mainly due to monetary value of participation increasing alongside the ever-present entertainment factor it provides. Not only this, but it is also becoming increasingly popular to spectate other individuals or ‘gamers‘ taking part in eSports, providing additional appeal to its integration into the sporting world.
Alongside the impact of eSport and how it will shape the future sporting media environment, VR is another technological creation that is becoming a popular component that is being integrated into the sports industry. Many sports organisations are looking to keep up with technology trends and are always aiming to bring the highest quality viewership experiences to fans, with a sporting example being the National Basketball Association (NBA) providing opportunity for fans to watch up to 27 matches a season using VR (Katz et al, 2006). These expectations from spectators also include the desire for more personalised and engaged viewing experiences. This augmented reality can be facilitated by VR and provide alternative and more immersive viewing methods for viewers, including from the comfort of their own homes- which provides an even bigger appeal to the mass audience (Kunz and Santomier, 2019).
It appears that these new technologies have already began to have a substantial impact on sports media as a whole, the question is how long before it becomes the main form of sports spectatorship? It would be interesting to hear your opinions in the comments below.