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This essay analyses the relationship between sport and media and how they affect each other in the modern world. It uses some practical cases to demonstrate what sport brings to media when sport enters into the media field and what media brings to sport when media come into the sports sphere. In addition, there will be a comparison between sports and media in the West and in China.
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Background of sport and media
Regarding the development of sport and media, Real (1998:14) stated that “the world of sports in the age of mass media has been transformed from nineteenth century amateur recreational participation to late twentieth and early twenty-first century spectator-centered technology and business”. In the past, sport was just defined as a competitive and organized physical activity. Moreover, most participants consisted of sports enthusiasts and their purpose was to gain more happiness from sport. However, after undergoing more than a century of reform and changes, the present concept of sport now refers to other industries, such as media, economics and culture. In these industries, sport and media have an obvious ‘marriage’ relationship in global sport.
In terms of the media, it can be considered as a collective noun of diverse types of media (What is media, 2005). It contains many communicative paths in different fields, such as television, radio, newspaper and internet. Nevertheless, with the high speed of sport development and popularity, more and more people are beginning to focus on sport events and relevant sport industries. Due to the increasing number of spectators, media has become an indispensable pathway for the sports industry service whilst it is a good combination between media and sport. Actually, Schirato (2007:82) stated that “the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games presaged a development which is by now very familiar to us about the integration of sport into the field of the media”. Through the advocate of media, it promotes sports events throughout the world and possesses more kinds of new demographics.
Modern sport and media developed into the global
With more and more professional sport events and international level mega sport events held, the developing tendency of sport and media turns to globalization. One typical example is the modern Olympic Games; it attracts the attention of sports spectators worldwide because of the establishment of the Main Press Centre (MPC) and International Broadcasting Centre (IBC). Certainly, the game also can promote many modes of media transmission development, for instance newspaper sales, development of communication technology, increased radio, television ratings and advertising revenue (Schirato, 2007). Sports’ broadcasting is a necessary and essential element to stimulate the sport and media to come into a global period. Purchasing the TV rights is one of the best ways to expand global media coverage. It will give confidence and escalate the interest of sports events and sports clubs, meanwhile enhancing the price of sports events, sport merchandise sales, the benefits from advertisers and sport sponsor supporting. The final goal is to gain most money from these aspects. Ashutosh Srivastava (2007) as a CEO of Singapore-based MindShare Asia Pacific said that “there is no greater dramatic product like sports, it can have emotions running high and have people glued to the sporting action either on the field or on television sets”.
Under the global economics environment, sport and media are also entering into the time of commoditization and commercialism. Some sports clubs have begun to operate a business management model; they consider their professional sportsmen as commodities which can be traded with other sports clubs thereby obtaining the profit from the transfer fee. David Beckham is one of the biggest deals, his transfer fee touched ￡24.5 million when he was sold from Manchester United to the Spanish giants Real Madrid (Beckham joins Real Madrid, 2003). Since the appearance of sports stars, some commercial businesses have developed, such as merchandising with reference to sports stars, souvenirs from the sports star’s club and some business activities using sports stars as an ambassador. All of these are so significant that sports clubs can better hunt for and extend their fans bases worldwide meanwhile in order to maximize their revenue.
The relationship of sport and media
Currently, sport and media can be called a perfect combination in today’s society. They have gone beyond simple reporting relationship between sport and media, and have formed a mutual promotion and common development of the situation. Sports and media now belong to a sunrise industry now. In the context of industrial cooperation this is inevitable and the outlook will be very good.
The relationship between sports and the media can be said to be long. When the ancient Greeks Feilibisi experienced a long run from the town of Marathon to Athens and declared a message of peace, it means sports and information dissemination had been linked inextricably. Furthermore, reporting entered the media stage, sports news was one of the main contents of the media. As early as 100 years ago, the United States sports journalist Pulitzer took the media to attract audience contact as one of the three magic weapons; the other two were scandal and sin (Wang, 2003). At the present day, his insight is even more confirmed. Not to mention the constant bombardment of sports coverage. Light from the endless landscape of sports newspapers and unlimited professional sports channels can be seen. Sport as one of the most common activities for entertainment, certainly can attract much attention, so the increasing popularity of the sports media is also a matter of course. However, the media which focuses greatly on sport, not only depends on this basic reason, but is also relevant with its own characteristics of sports reporting.
The first feature is sports reporting, sports news with fun, emotion and entertainment, as well as sports which are inseparable from its characteristics. On “Sports”, the dictionary has this explanation: An entertainment activity which requires physical strength, wisdom and skill of the game or sports, it requires physical strength more or less, according to the traditional form or set of rules, and sometimes as a career in outdoor or indoor. Sport, in itself (especially competitive sports), is a colorful process. Often, it makes the results unpredictable and fun. Therefore, spectators can watch sports away from the pressure of life experiencing physical and mental pleasure. Thus sport has become an indispensable part of people’s life. This reason is the most fundamental reason that people are fond of sports news, while also it is a fundamental characteristic of sports news.
Second, the coverage of the sports audience is extensive, which is unmatched by other news reports. Once addicted to sport, regardless of ethnicity, national boundaries, gender or age, this hobby can accompany people throughout their whole life.
Again, the content and style of sports coverage are free. One side is recreational sports coverage, it making far away from sensitive areas such as political ideology, so it has full coverage of space and the path of reporting. On the other side, sport is a common language around the world, just because of this commonality, so that people’s concern is not only limited to their domestic sports, but also throughout the world. For example, the soccer’s English Premier League, the NBA basketball and so on. This phenomenon which has now appeared in China is evident now, especially, sports reports. Concerning foreign competition, which outnumber domestic reports.
Finally, the modern media technology creates more sports reports, it includes a very strong sense of involvement, an sense of audience and provide a better reason for sports people to choose sport reports. Sports appreciation, audience participation and experience are the most common states of mind. With the increasingly sophisticated number of communication in the modern media, such as newspapers, magazines, text and pictures, television and radio live broadcast, these pathways enable the viewer experience without leaving home to enjoy the same scene of the warm atmosphere and the real picture or sound. Moreover, television has slow motion function; allowing viewers to appreciate details of the real world. Spectators can even be involved in the games directly through technological methods are participated in the quiz.
Generally speaking, all these reasons mean that regardless of the audience of sports report, the sport content, or the sport environment and other news reports, sport reports have their unique advantages in comparison with other reports, hence the prosperity of sports reports can be said to be inevitable. The relationship between sports media and sports is also logical and close. However, in recent years, we can easily find the relationship between sports and media is changing, not just reporting and being reported this simple rule. Media began to hold sport events, Bailey and Johnson, the world-renowned flying trapeze war is a typical example, actually it was held by television station; Another instance, in China the New People’s Daily sponsored an event named Tianyuan cup go game in a recent decade and has a great influence; In the western countries, the media magnate Rupert Murdoch’s Sky TV control the broadcast of English Premier League. The European Super League Group raised by the partners, media, and many famous football clubs in Europe are behind the network as a support, such as AC Milan support by Fininvest networks and Berlusconi’s media company, the Paris Saint Germain Club support by French cable television network and GANAN. To the extent of infiltration, media and Sport has been linked inextricably with each other.
Win-win situation in the sport and media industry
In Western countries, the sports industry originated in very early time when it experienced several years development. The sports industry has become huge. The management of sport market is increasingly mature and the sports industry in many countries has become a pillar industry for their national economy. In U.S, the sports industry is one of the most developed industries. In 1999, the sports industry output value over the petrochemical, automotive and aerospace, primary metal and wood processing industry and other important industrial sectors current output in the same year. It ranks 11th in the national economy compared with other various sectors (Cheng, 2000); In Italy, “football industry” is the main body in the sports industry. It has belonged to the list of 10 national pillar industries in the late 80s; in the twentieth century, the United Kingdom Sports industry output value reached 70 billion pounds, also exceeded their output value of automotive industry and the tobacco industry. The government obtained revenue more than 2.4 billion pounds from the sports industry, it equivalent to the government appropriation funds five times. In 2001, the global sports industry output value has reached an amazing number was 400 billion U.S. dollars.
In sports as an industry, there is no doubt that profit is the first thing. To get more economic benefits, sports have to attract more viewers. Similarly, for the purpose of cost-effectiveness of the media, the news reports can be considered as an intermediate of their business products. As a matter of fact, this media product management will assemble the audience and their own pages or hours to sell them to advertisers, thereby, obtain more benefits from the revenue. In here, this sale is called the audience’s attention resources. The industrialization of sports and media, they has been put together by “attention” economy, to coexist and prosper simultaneously. Sport is deemed as the most important source for the media, also it can be said that media create the public market and the market returns are very essential support for the sport. On the other hand, sport requires accumulating popularity in itself, requiring to bonding degree, whilst it needs to own one professional skills and capabilities of specialized industry. In addition, it permits to have impact on the media industry. Consequently, the cooperation between the media industry and the sports industry is a natural, logical, win-win cooperation perfect combination. This kind of “attention economy” discards the previous simple relationship between reporting and being reported, close cooperation and common development in sport and the media (Yu, 2002).
In recent years, it can be said that western countries sports industry development nearly from the outset has branded a deep mark on the media. If develop one sport as an industry to, the first problem is the available development money. While, the media for the sports industry development contribution was stemmed from the Switzerland World Cup in 1954. The 1954World Cup in Switzerland created the first time television broadcasting for the World Cup football game. In view of the value of football, the game attracts some multinational companies’ participation, such as Coca-Cola and Kodak. It stimulated this sport—football and the football in the media development towards turn to prosperity. After this sport and media cooperation, The International Federation of Association Football (FIFA) has gained the current 200 counties members from the original six member countries, meanwhile FIFA also is the largest international federation.
In the early 1980s, the organization of America National Basketball Association (NBA) still was a heavily indebted organization and nearly closed down. But when Stern took office, he convened a group of experts in the field of law and television; meanwhile he set up the television and media communications department. This step made NBA enter a successful and new era. In the end of 1980s, the NBA TV sales have been accounted for more than 55% of total revenue. In addition, with each new contract signed with NBA, their revenue could increase more than 50%. On March 11th 2004, American Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), ESPN Sports Television Network, America Online and Time Warner announced that they have jointly bought the television rights of America Basketball League (NBA) in next four years. This total contract value reached 2.64 billion U.S. dollars and it created a new record of NBA television broadcast fees.
The Montreal Olympic Games in 1976 and the Moscow Olympic Games in 1980 all lost every cent invested; therefore it was announced that the model of government funding to host the Olympic Games would stop. Up to 1984, Los Angeles was the only bid city to host the Olympic Games. The American businessman Ueberroth did not apply money from the government. He just relied on 700 million U.S. dollars from raise financing. For this reason, the Los Angeles Olympic Games could be considered as single-handedly organized. More importantly, this game made 215 million U.S. dollars net profit in the end (Kotler, 1993). This kind of mode from individual person to sponsors of the Olympic Game was called “Uederroth mode”in the further years. In this mode, the Olympic television broadcast rights had the most opportunities to gain profit from it. According to China Daily, one popular foreign newspaper in China, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) spent 22 billion U.S. dollars to win the TV rights for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and 2012 Summer Olympic Game in the United States on June 6th in 2003. In 1995, the NBC spent 15 billion U.S. dollars to bid the television broadcast rights for 2006 Turin Winter Olympic Games in Italy and 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games. The Moscow Olympics hold in 1980, the TV revenue was 87.9841 million U.S. dollars. The TV rights sales, TV advertising auction, and the income of commercial sponsorship all of these were take up more than 90 percent of the Olympic Game (Kotler, 1993).
The common development space of sport and the media
With the progress of social civilization, sport has become an essential part of modern life. The relationships of media and sport have been reached an unprecedented level. Especially in the field of television, due to commercial packaging, it enhances the sports games entertainment and extends the range of sports audience that attracts more people who rarely or never participate in sports. Under this background, the sport governing bodies have to upgrade the issue of TV broadcasting to a high degree of strategic development of sports.
Accordingly, the sports media are developing continuously. In U.S, there are more than 1500 TV stations, nearly 12,000 local radio sports programs by broadcast, and the sports programming audience who watching 179 hours in average in a year. Focus on print media, according to the data of SRDS market research firm, in 1996 the United States more than 1,500 daily and 7,500 weekly newspapers, majority of its have their sports pages. In addition, there have 19% of the total number of news journalists for sports report. Particularly, the three major U.S. television networks: American Broadcasting Company (ABC), Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) and National Broadcasting Company (NBC) for the competition, including the Olympic Games broadcast rights and other attention-grabbing battle, at the same time some rising stars such as the Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX), United Paramount Network (UPN), Warner Brothers network (WB) and ESPN sports channel involved. In 1995, only three European broadcast sports television network now has more than 20 sports channels, they kept broadcast the live of sports programmed and sports video to 150 million cable channels and satellite households (Samuelson, 1992).
Regardless of the media industry or sports industry, its development are still just beginning, its potential of development and profit margins are enormous. Because of these, it attracts more eyes from investors to invest the sport and the media industry in the future.
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In China, the most obvious example is the Chinese Football League. In 2003, China Football League title sponsorship fee was touched 140 million yuan (Jinghua Newspaper, 2003). Moreover, more and more domestic enterprises have invested in football and the amount of annual money increasingly. Shide is one famous Group in China, its investment in football more than 100 million in each year. Meanwhile, China’s basketball, volleyball, table tennis, chess and other sport events are also have been launched the operation of commercial club system, this point attracting more investments. Therefore, both domestic and foreign researchers have described these two industries perfect combination is a sunrise industry, and they confirmed that this industry will have a prospect development in the future.
The sports and media are all built on the attention economy and are called sunrise industry. Not only they have common platform for cooperation, but also they own the same market for future development. As a result, whatever in terms of capital investment or consider its own development, it can described as a “marriage made in heaven.” Especially China’s successful bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games; it is a great opportunity to accelerate the development of the whole Chinese sports media and sports industry.
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