Why Digital Matters – Sports as Media

If I had to create a slogan that represents the Digital Media for International Marketing module I am leading this academic year and particularly our first week’s topic most likely it would be something like this: Digital Matters

Knowing why digital matters for the symbiotic relationship between sports and media seems to be the key for understanding how this dyad continues to metamorphose in an even faster pace than in previous time. And by comprehending how this new scene emerges and exists allows us then to formulate marketing communication strategies that uses different media (the plural of medium) in complementary ways.

For David Rowe and Brett Hutchins (2013) what the digital revolution and particularly convergent digital media brought to the industry is a new era of plenitude that contrasts with the now perceived scarcity of traditional media relationship to sport. In a way, sports as a content to be consumed and experienced is now so widely accessible on different media platforms that its unavailability as during the first instances of the covid19 pandemic led to a sense of loss to many of us sport fans (see this interview with Gary Lineker on Financial Times).

But for me to understand how the symbiotic relationship between sports and media is metamorphosing in this new digital age is to go beyond a face value explanation of plenitude vs scarcity to be conscious of the deeper changes that this type of technology induces on our daily lives. First of all, we need to realise that digitalisation in the basic level means the transformation of any form of content into digits (0s and 1s); this transformation means that this information (a string of 0s and 1s) irrespectively of being it sound, still image, or moving image can be transferred across multiple devices; those devices can read that information and reproduce it with deeper realism – with very or no loss of information. Added to this, with new technologies of compression and decompression and computing processing power it is possible to fit even more information [just think about the transition from standard definition to high definition and now to 4k as industry standard] and to share it widely [think about how Internet speed evolved during the last 5 years] across multiple devices [your mobile phone is more of a computer than a telephone – see the advert below from Apple making similar claim but in relation to their watch]

Digital matters because it is changing the way we relate to sport on a very mundane level. The realism of spectating it live in stadia is matched or even surpassed by the hyperrealism of 4k broadcasting; the experience of watching a game alone is probably something of a distant past as now we are constantly connected to others via social media; and how we keep fit is also being disrupted by digital fitness providers as Apple Fitness+ (see my post here), Peloton, Zwift, Strava, and others.

In a way as Rowe and Hutchins (2013) argue it is impossible to talk about sport and media as two separate entities, but instead in this digital world we currently live in we should see it as sports as media. And as we live in a mediated world [media platforms are everywhere fighting for our attention] it is possible to say that sport is everywhere too.

The question now is to how to embed sport in this media ecology that comprises both analogue traditional media and digital media platforms.

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