As with the process of evolution, things change and adapt to suit the current environment, and the same principle applies to the world of technology and media. The first 2 blogs of this series explored how media and sport were consumed in past decades, e.g., one directional mass media, and secondly how sport is produced and consumed simultaneously in more present times. Whereas this blog is concerned with displacing the stigma surrounding old vs new media and expanding the theory of media convergence.
What is media convergence?
Lopez-Gonzalez and Griffiths (2016) begin to explain that convergence is the integration of two components of a product, in this case, media convergence in sport relates to how old and new media forms now coincide with one another to simultaneously produce content for sports fans to access 24/7. The media convergence theory believes that both old and new media can co-exist to create the best platform for sports fans to interact and engage with content. However, it is argued that not all technologies have a place in today’s market, as delivery technologies such as DVD’S and MP3’s are showing signs of decline due to their inability to create a platform for conversation, they merely just deliver the content.
To further develop this theory, Jenkins (2006) argues that convergence should not be understood as just the development of technologies where new and old media forms meet, it is much deeper than that. He argues that convergence represents a cultural shift in which consumers are exposed to new information in which they make connections through media content and that convergence occurs through social interactions.
What both these perspectives take into account is the fact that the concept of consumers and producers of content being entirely separate roles no longer exist. They’re now participants who interact with one another. This sense of prosumption has caused the dilution of culture across borders and therefore increased the interconnectivity of consumers, hence the need for more adaptable and creative media platforms.
The impact media and cultural convergence has had on sport
Now that we’ve explored what digital media and culture convergence is, it’s important to understand the huge impact it has had on sport.
One of the biggest determinants of demand for sporting events is fan loyalty. Sports teams and organisations are concerned with how they are going to maintain and grow their fan base, and a way they do this is through media engagement. Jenkins (2013) concluded that the more likely content is to stick to the consumer, the more likely the consumer is to spread that information to others. Digital media platforms require their audience to engage with a piece of content for a long time in order to create fan engagement and spreadability, thus the need for more conversational content is greater than ever, rather than delivery technologies, to create fan loyalty and grow a sports team or organization’s fan base. The newest forms of digital media, such as the rise of TikTok, are the most personal and therefore is the reason media convergence is sticking around.
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