Converging Sport Media: Disrupting the Symbiotic Relationship

After the first two weeks in the Digital Media for International Marketing module where we have discussed initially the symbiotic relationship between sport and media, and subsequently how this relationship changed from traditional (print, radio, and TV) to new digital media, in this week our focus is on the current converging media environment witnessed across the wider entertainment industry.

Convergence culture as defined by Henry Jenkins might not be something completely novel within the sports media industry as it involves at least two concomitant processes (participatory culture and collective intelligence) that are part and parcel of what we understand sport to be (see this discussion about sport, media and modernity). Nevertheless, when the third process is added (media convergence) we then might be seeing how possible disruptions are happening within the once sedimented symbiotic relationship (see here).

Digital media as one of the key elements of the current media ecology might provide us with the ideal example for looking at the possible disruptions caused by media convergence. Approaching digital media as both a set of technologies and the associated cultural practices involved in the consumption of content allows us to perceive how media convergence might be shaping our overall experience of sport. For instance we can look at the Apple Watch (see my post here) as epitomising this approach as this new technological media gadget is having a profound impact on our cultural practices of doing sport. In a way, the Apple Watch enables us to consume sport in forms that were once unimagined as competing (synchronous and even asynchronous) against friends who live on the other side of the world.

Alongside this form of disruption generated by the advent of digital media, Henry Jenkins sees convergence happening in conjunction with the ability of media content to spread. Media spreadability is possible because of the aforementioned processes where all sorts of content are digitised – become digits and thus can spread freely across platforms – and our media consumption habits that are scattered around those different media platforms. In the sport industry we can see media spreadability happening when fan conversations take place via different social media as on twitter (see post here), or when traditional media outlets are not the ones shaping conversations (see post here).

Those conversations not only highlight the disruptive nature of digital media where our consumption habits on them are both complementary and competitive to content coming from traditional media, but also emphasise how grassroots intermediaries can shape the spread of content across multiple platforms. In a way, the overall story that once came pre-packaged by traditional media outlets are now more fragmented because grassroots intermediaries multiply (see Grant McCracken’s notion of multipliers) those stories via their active consumption.

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