How Has Convergence Culture Affected the Sports World?

In the current sports media, we are observing a time where analogue media and new media are becoming intertwined and are influencing the relationship held between sport and the media. In a previous blog post, we explored how print media has the ability to control the hearts and minds of the public, as they were the only media source available to the public to consume any sport content. In this blog, we will study how the advancement in technology has created a convergence culture in current sports media ecology, and how this technology has allowed the sporting organisations to provide content to their consumers.

Firstly, it is important to understand what convergence culture is, in order to understand how it affects the sports world. Jenkins and Deuze (2008) found that convergence is a top-down corporate process to allow companies to speed up the flow of media content across different media platforms, whilst also being a bottom-up consumer-driven process for consumers to control media content and interact with others. There is a connection between the consumer and the company, to co-create content that is entertaining for the consumer, but is also beneficial for the company to develop revenue opportunities and strengthen consumer relationships.

But how does this affect the sports world? Well, television has been a key catalyst in the growth of sport due to it bringing new income opportunities, and TV remains the dominant medium in sport, most specifically football as the number of live games that are shown on broadcasting channels like Sky and BT are increasing year upon year. However, the introduction of new media sources like social media has meant that consumers have the ability to consume two screens at once; one screen to watch a live event, and a second screen to consume content surrounding the event. This is known as social convergence, where consumers can multitask and consume across different platforms (Jenkins, 2001). Furthermore, Doughty et al (2012) found that the Twitter can be the second screen during TV viewing, as consumers look to blog their experience of watching the game, as well as actively message other people who are consuming.

Knowing this, sporting organisations can create content to attract and engage interactions from second-screen consumers, using spreadable media content that is produced on easy-to-share formats, encouraging consumers to spend time engaging with content. By creating content that encourages interaction and engagement, Jenkins et al (2013) explained that the consumers add value to an organisations content, therefore becoming multipliers to an organisation. The Premier League, Arsenal and Newcastle United all used the same hashtag (#ARSNEW) on their social media accounts during a game between Arsenal and Newcastle United, creating a base for the audience to generate extra value onto the game through content creation and engagement. Through the creation of content, fans also create transmedia storytelling, which provides more content than the social media accounts of the Premier League, Arsenal and Newcastle United can create, therefore providing more touch points to the organisations. This value may not be at first economic value, but it can develop into economic value through greater awareness of a sporting organisation through the content becoming sticky, and attracting the audience to the organisation, allowing for future brand recognition and potential purchase behaviour.

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