Is YouTube becoming the new home of Sports Television?

By Thomas Painter

For decades television has been the home of live sport and consuming content. Due to digital transformations over the last few years, other digital platforms such as YouTube are taking over the sports media industry. 

Traditional sports coverage had a fairly standard content format, which consisted of a build-up, press conference, live action, and match round-up. However, with the introduction of online video consumers can watch a range of different formats and coverages to find out more about the match and the sport as a whole. An example of this would be fan channels on YouTube, which offer an honest review of a team by a fan themselves that won’t be filtered such as the pundits that you will see on the TV. Established content creators such as True Geordie, Arsenal Fan TV and Full Time Devils get millions of views online, and have even been invited onto Sky Sports to discuss more about the teams they support. YouTube gives consumers the chance to interact with the content producers as well as other sports fans through this style of content, which isn’t possible to do with television, unless other forms of digital media such as Twitter are used to interact with live television.

Sports providers such as Sky Sports and BT Sport have also introduced their own YouTube channels with the rights to post footage from the games, so they’re able to post highlights for fans to look back on and engage with, as well as post exclusive interviews that they wouldn’t offer on TV. For example, for the Champions League Semi-final encounter between Liverpool and Barcelona which resulted in a 4-3 comeback at Anfield in May 2019, BT Sport posted a considerable number of videos such as the fans reaction and the game highlights, of which 4 videos have rallied up over 10 million views. BT Sport also stream a lot of their Champions League games live on YouTube so they are free to watch for consumers, making it so much more competitive with Freeview television, however is also complements TV as double production. Another example of this would be how the International Olympic Committee (IOC) used YouTube to showcase media events such as the Olympic Games. By analysing the IOC media, Lee Ludvigsen and Petersen-Wagner (2022) discovered that they constantly posted videos, making them longer over time, as well as producing ‘shorts’ which were found out to be better for engagement.

YouTube also offers features such as skippable ads, whereas you would have to sit through several minutes of ads at a time when watching on television. Furthermore, Van Dijck at al (2018) agrees that advertising in the platform economy happens irrespectively of particular content; instead, it is focused on targeted specific users’ behaviours and interests, so the advertisements are more catered towards each consumers’ needs.

To summarise, not only is YouTube looking like the future of sports and media, but it also compliments traditional media such as television. 

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