New sport media: Interactivity and the internet

This is an excerpt from Strategic Sport Communication-2nd Edition by Paul M. Pedersen,Pamela C. Laucella,Edward KianA & ndrea Nicole Geurin.

The phrase "new sport media" incorporates two aspects: sport communication and new media. As discussed in chapter 4, sport communication is the process by which people in sport, in a sport setting, or through a sport endeavor share symbols as they create meaning through interaction. But what are people referring to when people talk about the new media? This term must be examined before we discuss new sport media and online communication in sport. This section examines the application of the new media in sport communication, and figure 8.1 illustrates where new media fit in the Strategic Sport Communication Model (SSCM).


Figure 8.1 The second segment of the second component of the SSCM is emerging and social media in sport, including the Internet, social media, and emerging technologies such as vodcasts and video on demand.
The second segment of the second component of the SSCM is emerging and social media in sport, including the Internet, social media, and emerging technologies such as vodcasts and video on demand.


The new media were described by McQuail (2002) as "linking information communication technologies with their associated social contexts, bringing together three elements: technological artifacts and devices; activities, practices, and uses; and social arrangements and organizations that form around the devices and practices" (p. 38). According to Lister, Dovey, Giddings, Grant, and Kelly (2009), new media refers to the numerous changes in the ways that media is produced, distributed, and used. Lister et al. (2009) identified six characteristics of new media that illustrate these changes:

  • Digital
  • Interactive
  • Hypertextual
  • Virtual
  • Networked
  • Simulated


Many people, including millions of sport fans and consumers, have transitioned from reliance on traditional mass media to use of the more interactive communication and commercial interfaces provided by the Internet (Mitchell, 2015). Although the Internet has been around for more than two decades, we still consider it a new medium because it is different from the traditional media, dramatically affects communication at all levels, and continues to influence the manner in which organizations and individuals communicate. When compared with traditional sport media, the Internet is immediate and instantaneous. It is a complex medium that provides an additional communication channel, thus serving as an alternative mechanism to establish communication (Karlsson, 2011). According to Mitchell (2015), media consumers are increasingly turning to the Internet and other digital platforms such as social media sites and podcasts to receive their news. Some of these platforms also allow consumers to connect with each other, whereas traditional media does not allow for such connectivity and interaction.


The immediacy, instantaneousness, and connectivity of the Internet are often best illustrated in the sport industry. For example, at the official Super Bowl website (www.superbowl.com), sport consumers can obtain information such as game recaps and game stats for all past Super Bowls, as well as access their National Football League (NFL) fantasy teams. The site also provides lists of award winners, all-time standings, national anthem singers, halftime performers, Hall of Fame players in the Super Bowl, Super Bowl records, and regular-season statistics for each team ever to play in the Super Bowl (as well as similar information for playoff games). This information is easily accessed, usually within one or two clicks of a mouse, from anywhere in the world with Internet access.


The Internet allows consumers to be interactive, which makes it a unique communication channel (Karlsson, 2011). By going beyond the interactivity limits of traditional media, the Internet provides unique tools that help organizations strengthen their relationships with consumers (Kiesler, 2014). For instance, this interactivity provides opportunities to access a product without having to experience it in person (Kiesler, 2014). On sport websites, this kind of opportunity means that individuals can be particularly active in the communication process by selecting which sections of the site to visit, determining what game clips to download, and even choosing to vote for specific players in competitions such as all-star games.


Internet Usage in Sport


The Internet is now a part of everyday life for most Americans; in fact, most students who read this book cannot remember a time when they did not regularly use the web. A 2014 Pew Research Center survey showed that 87 percent of U.S. adults used the Internet, as compared with just 14 percent when Pew first began surveying web usage in 1995 (Berman, 2014). The affordability and availability of high-speed Internet access have enhanced the quality of the Internet and the experiences of Internet users, and the advent of Web 2.0 technology has enabled more interconnectivity and interactivity among Internet and social media users. Web 2.0 is a term commonly used to describe the advancement of the web from stand-alone screens with limited features (i.e., Web 1.0) to the accessible networks and platforms that now dominate the Internet (Butler, Zimmerman, & Hutton, 2013).


Nearly all professional and college sport organizations and teams rely on the Internet to communicate their key messages. Online communication via the web or social media enables sport entities to essentially eliminate gatekeepers from the media-message process. When sport entities disseminate messages through traditional media, they are often edited, meaning that the narratives and framing desired by a sport entity are changed before the content is published by the independent media outlet. However, sport entities are now able to craft and shape their key messages and disseminate them directly to the sporting public through the Internet and social media. In other words, sport entities are attempting to shape their own agenda rather than having the media shape it for them (Stoldt, Noble, Ross, Richardson, & Bonsall, 2013).

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