Sports & New Media

Several weeks go in NMTIFAMP, we discussed the “complete destruction of television ad revenue”, all thanks to new technologies like DVRs, Hulu and Netflix. Not only do audiences have more options when they watch television (due to the growth of cable networks), but these technologies are changing how, when and where audiences can choose to watch television. Because of this “DVR effect”, 92% of viewers skip commercials and 46% of viewers “barely notice the commercials”. Think about it – when was the last time you actually sat and watched a show live and sat through an entire commercial break? Probably not too recently (or if recently, not too often). Commercials have basically become irrelevant, right?

Except for during the Super Bowl. Ever since Apple’s groundbreaking 1984 commercial, advertisements have become as integral to the big event as the teams playing. Some fans gather around on Super Bowl Sunday with intentions of only watching the commercials. What is it about sporting events, like the Super Bowl, that allow for the “old and glorious” model of media to survive?

While a lot of the topics we have discussed in NMTIFAMP are undisputed, sports are challenging this notion of “the complete destruction of television ad revenue” (at least for now). Fans will watch sports live and even (gasp) sit through the commercials in between plays. All because sports have the ability to capture a committed and passionate audience. Don’t believe it? My professor asked the class how many of us knew we would watch the Duke-UNC basketball game this year live. Nearly every student raised their hand. Then he asked, how many of us planned to watch it live for the next ten years? Just as many hands went up.

For now, this passionate and consistent audience is allowing the traditional television advertisement model to survive. But how long will this last? When will digital streaming take over? Can the digital revolution and the traditional sports broadcast model work together?

My guess is as long as the fans are still watching.

This post is based on lectures and readings from JOMC 376: Sports Marketing and Advertising and JOMC 490: New Media Technology and Its Impact on the Future of Advertising, Marketing and Public Relations from the fall of 2012.

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