The Modern Sport Media Ecology 1: Rise of Television

This blog will build on my first blog and will be the first part of an exploration into the modern sports media ecology and how developments in technology and society have influenced the ways in which the public consume sport.

Rowe (2013) outlines how sport must first be locally appealing and build a good fanbase at a national level in order to become internationally popular. The past sport media ecology helped sports become nationally renowned (Andrews and Jackson, 2002; Delfanti and Arvidsson, 2019), the phenomenon of globalisation in the late 1900’s took sports global. One of the traditional media outlets, television, still thrives today.

Haynes (2015: p.5) explains that the ‘transnational flow of television has been one of the primary drivers of globalisation‘. Sport on television is now a lot more than just ‘the game’, talk shows, news, documentaries and analysis all contribute to making sport what Crawford (2004) has described as ‘a part of every day life‘. Specialised pay television channel Sky Sports in the UK was set up to capitalise upon the growth in demand for sport, providing a ‘home for sport’ with sport-specific channels offering specialised programming.

Sky Sports launched in 1990 and currently has 11 Channels broadcasting a variety of sports. (Sky Sports)

Television has shown continued success and a consistent core consumer base due to several unique features of sport (Smith and Stewart, 1999; 2003). The loyalty to clubs and sports from fans create a consistent consumer base for televised sport, regardless of the channel. This is a key factor behind why sports broadcasters regularly pay billions to secure the rights to show certain sports leagues, with these contracts drawing in millions of paying subscribers. The development and diffusion of a variety of sports worldwide has meant that the majority of people worldwide watch sports in some capacity, known as the benign factor (Bellamy, 2009), further creating demand for televised sport.

Channels such as Sky Sports evolved their coverage, tailoring it to modern day society. Often seeing presenters making sport into a ‘drama’ which keeps fans invested in the emotion, scandals and latest news of sport (Bellamy, 2013; Jackson, 2013). Due to the extensive and constant coverage of sport by mass media, notably television, sport stars have inadvertently become celebrities (Andrews and Jackson, 2002). Television tailors to those in this society who love the drama, with commentators, pundits and presenters creating hype for events before they have happen.

Sky Sports News is a major outlet for the key sporting headlines from around the sporting world.

While television has existed concurrently with the internet in recent years (Hutchins and Rowe, 2012; Rowe, 2013), there have been challenges for other traditional media outlets. These outlets’ presence today, social media and the rise in the internet will be discussed in part two of the modern sport media ecology. Comment your thoughts about the state of modern television and whether its good for sport below and stay tuned for my next blog.

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