Recently I was invited to write an article on the Vodafone small business blog “Your Better Business”, which I was delighted to accept. The objective of the article was to give an overview of how the sports media industry has been transformed by changes in technology and what the future holds for the industry. Below is my summary and you can see the original here, love to hear if you agree….
Widely available internet access has enabled anyone’s voice to be heard, and on a scale never imaginable of before. I’ve been blogging on sport and the impact of digital media on it for the last five years and it’s only the ready availability of free websites like WordPress, cheap hosting and social media to promote articles and research new ones that has really made it possible.
The impact that technology has had on sport and how it is reported, whether it’s on certain niches such as digital and sport or more general discussions around teams and leagues around the world, has been huge. Previously you could say that sport needed the media, almost on an unconditional basis. But the boot is now firmly on the other foot so to speak.
Marc Cooper, until recently the Head of Audience and Content at The Football League, gave some insight into how the relationship between fans, the media and football teams has changed;
“Football clubs have always been able to give fans certain things that other media can’t, which is information and confirmation. Fans may have read about their team being linked with certain players, and they’ll look to their club website to confirm it. But fans want more than that. They want to be entertained too, and they want to know more about the players at their club. That’s another area that clubs can serve the fans well.”
It’s not only the major sports that have reaped the benefits of being in a more connected world. The so-‐called ‘lesser known sports’ can now act as their own media company, not having to rely on the scraps available within mainstream publications. This really is a game changer for them and will help raise awareness for their sport and get people interested in playing and/or watching it.
So where does that leave the journalist? The truth is that this has been the most radical shift in the media business in generations. And as with all periods of change there will be a time of adjustment as the old slowly learns how to work with and make use of the new.
The journalist is now the independent trusted resource, the one who has used his/her contacts and found out what is actually happening, not just the rumours (most of the time). They can spend time putting together great analysis and speak directly to the players involved. They are now the authentication, the experts we turn to when in doubt.
The relationship between fans and the media will continue to evolve as technology provides even greater access and insight. Fans will undoubtedly be the winners as the media they consume revolves more around when and where they want to do so.
Geo targeting of information is becoming more refined, helping to merge the online and offline worlds. We will see teams and leagues take back more control of their media, relying less on media rights as they produce their own income from subscriptions, sponsorship and advertising. Until those rights packages that are sold now become unsustainable, or Apple or Google bid for them, then this will take more time to see any radical shifts in live sports especially.
We are still in the early days of this explosion in media and technology, the tip of the iceberg in fact. But what it safe to say is that for media companies to stay relevant there needs to be a change in the mind sets of those involved. To become more fan-centric and deliver the types of content when they want it and how they want it.
The speed of change we are seeing now is frightening at times but this also means that new opportunities are opening up everyday. These gaps in the market are there to be seized upon by whoever is brave and forward thinking enough to spot them. There’s never been a more exciting time to be working in this industry than now!