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Question:
Discuss about the Sports and Media Relations for Divergence.

 
Answer:
Introduction 

In the recent years, both the sports and media organizations have developed a relationship based on self-interests (Boyle, 2010). The organizations of these industries have gained advantages from their complementary nature of interest. However, this relationship is a love hate relationship, where at times they are friends and at other instances, they are foes. When their interests converge, the situation becomes a win-win and in case of divergence, the tables turn. In the following parts, this very aspect of convergence and divergence of the needs of sports and media organizations, have been discussed.

 
Convergence and Divergence 

The needs of the sports and media organizations converge when their interests are complementary in nature. So, the sports provide the audiences and the valuable content to the media and on the other hand, the media houses act as a source for promotion tool for the sports and also as a source of revenue. The exclusive live broadcasting rights sale of any game contributes as the revenue source for the sports clubs and sports organizations, if not as the principal source. Similarly, to create an attractive programming for their audience, live sports content is decisive for the media operators (Nicholson, 2007).

When such sports are widely covered through televisions, the sport leagues get a significantly higher exposure, which delivers private benefits to the clubs and leagues in form of attraction of new supporters and in the form of increased revenue from sponsorship. This shows that without the media coverage of the major sports events, such events would virtually have no meaning at all. Such interdependence amongst the media conglomerates and the sports organizations is often known as the sports/media complex (Lefever, 2012).

 


In addition to this, in this digital age, the sports have opened the channel gates to tapping the digital market too. The digital sport services act as an encouragement for the fans of the sports to check the latest content and keep up with it from any place in the world. The recent developments suggest that the success in the global distribution era is completely dependent upon the cultivation of a lucrative niche audience and to create a platform available 24*7. This also facilitates the media houses to focus their advertisements for the tech savvy world. Hence, the sport is distributed digitally to suit the workspace media viewing habits (Hutchins & Rove).

The strategy behind these digital sports series can be thus contributed to the association of the digital technology with the multitasking. The concentration upon the behavior of sports fan over the others, contributes in understanding the emerging technologies, as well as, in shaping the manner in which these are integrated in the lives of the people. It is worth noting that the emergence of digital platform took place at the time when the leagues were looking for new fans in the international market. So, the use of the digital media in sports is often quoted as being the as a source of ancillary revenue. This in turn has resulted in the re-conceptualization of the products of entertainment as the mutating global products (Hutchins & Rove).

 


Even though the media houses are not obliged to cover such sport events, but they do so, in order to make certain that they get good stories, to attract the TV ratings and to sell their papers (PwC, 2011). On the other hand, instead of covering the sports events, the media houses may choose to show the stories which are not aligned with the sports organizations. Moreover, in situations where the media houses cover a negative story, which has the impact of reducing the revenues for the sports organizations or which results in the decline of the fan base of a particular sports, the sports organizations associated with such a sport, may refrain from staying connected to the media outlet. These are the situations where the divergence occurs between the sports and the media organizations, as their interest are deviated.

As per the inquiry conducted by Lowe in 1997, from the collection of the data from the fieldwork in the sports department of a daily newspaper of Canada, the sportswriters were dependent upon their routine sources of raw news material. This material came from the sports organizations, the athletes and the spokespersons. And to cope with the pressure and constraints in the work they do, this interaction became very crucial. This proved beneficial for the commercial spectator sports, as the work routine which was implemented in the manufacture of sports on daily basis, garnered the attention. As a result of this, the non commercial sports were omitted from the news. This omission highlighted the power of the media to make or break any sports (Lowe, 1997).

For the sports organizations, the infusion of money from the media organizations and sponsors proves beneficial. The introduction of the televised sports, was earlier feared to be a cause of the depletion in the attendance in the stadiums, as it was believed that that if the individuals could attend the event directly from the comforts of their living rooms, they would not buy the tickets to such events, which are a major contributor to the revenue of such spots organizations. However, the live coverage of sports demonstrated to be the contrary of being detrimental, as it contributed as a major fan base builder (Cave & Miller, 2015). Buraimo quoted the televised sports as being complementary to the attendance at the stadiums (Buraimo, 2006).

 


To accommodate the coverage by the media houses and to attach more ratings, the rules of the games have changed and even abandoned, and the playing conditions have been revised. So, instead of the traditional brown ball, a white ball is being used, in addition to the introduction of distinctive colored shirts, so that the watching experience for the football viewers can be enhanced. During the FIFA World Cup of 1994, held in the United States, the matches were played at the time of the day when it was the hottest, only to ensure that the telecast was made at the European prime time. Such initiatives have been taken due to the convergence of the interests of the media organizations and the sports organizations, as both of these have understood the significance of each other (Lefever, 2012).

On one hand, the media publicity works for the benefit of the sports organizations, on the other, the live coverage of such events provides the broadcasters the credibility, as well as, an established profile in the market, in addition to the lucrative audiences, which are then used to advertise. The economics of the broadcasting necessitates the sufficiency in the size of the audience, so as to produce the sufficient finance resources and the audience share is the word that creates a lot of buzz amongst the media organizations. The higher the number of audience, the higher would be the popularity of the channel (Söderman & Dolles, 2013). And only when the channel has high popularity, can it attract the advertising companies. So, in order to have higher viewing figures, it becomes crucial for the media organizations to put forward such programs which are both appealing and attractive, and preferably not available over the other channels (Lefever, 2012).

Sports have the ability to trigger the attention of the consumers and the advertisers. Moreover, sports can reach to that segment of the consumers, which normally do not watch the television and only tune in to watch the sports event. So, the target market which is not otherwise available for the advertisers can be attained through the use of the sports events. It also has to be highlighted that even the bad news can be attractive (Luck & Buchanan, 2015). When the media organizations present a bad news regarding a sports organization or a sports personality, it can garner a lot of attention, which can translate into higher ratings; however, this may result in the divergence of interests (Lefever, 2012).

The similarities between the interests of sports and media organizations showed their convergence but to evaluate these effectively, their differences have to be noted too. The theories based on the disposition of media provide this lens. In wide terms, these theories explain the manner in which the individuals evaluate and form the affiliations with the characters of media, and the enjoyment is dependent upon what happens to and with such characters. The theory given in 1972 by Zillman and Cantor was the very first theory which highlighted the manner in which the enjoyment was attained through jokes, which involved mocking of a group or an individual. This very theory later on led to the disposition theory of drama and sports spectatorship. Even though humor is an emotional response, but it does led to the development of a judgment. Moreover, the language of the media can also impact the sports organizations. For instance, the comment that Canada deserved to win, on ESPN.com, changed the perception of the people (Billings, 2011).

Conclusion

To conclude, there are higher chances of the media organizations and sports organizations converging, instead of diverging, as these organizations have realized the significance and potential of their inter-dependence. Moreover, a divergence may though result in a favorable rating for once, but for longevity of such organizations, the convergence of their needs proves beneficial.

 
References

Billings, A. (Ed) (2011). Sports Media: Transformation, Integration, Consumption. London: Routledge.

Boyle, R. (2010). Sport and the Media: Game on or Game over - University of Glasgow. Retrieved from: eprints.gla.ac.uk/44177/1/Boyle_final2.doc

Buraimo B (2006) The demand for sports broadcasting. In Wladimir A & Szymanski S (Eds.), Handbook of the economics of sport (pp 100–111). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

Cave, A., & Miller, A. (2015). The importance of social media in sport. Retrieved from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/investing/business-of-sport/social-media-in-sport/

Hutchins, B., & Rowe, D. (Eds) (2013). Digital Media Sport: Technology, Power and Culture in the Network Society. London: Routledge

Lefever, K. (2012). New Media and Sport: International Legal Aspects. The Netherlands: Springer.

Lowes, M. (1997). Sports Page: A Case Study in the Manufacture of Sports Pages for the Daily Press. Sociology of Sport Journal, 14(2), 143-159.

Luck, E., & Buchanan, E. (2015). Sporting Organisations: Do they need to communicate with members?. Retrieved from: https://www.cbaa.org.au/article/sporting-organisations-do-they-need-communicate-members

Nicholson, M. (2007). Sport and the Media: Managing the Nexus. Retrieved from: https://www.imd.inder.cu/adjuntos/article/557/Sport%20and%20the%20Media%20Managing%20The%20Nexus.pdf

PwC. (2011). Changing the game. Retrieved from: https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/hospitality-leisure/pdf/changing-the-game-outlook-for-the-global-sports-market-to-2015.pdf

Söderman, S., & Dolles, H. (2013) Handbook of Research on Sport and Business. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

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