November 21, 2019

INTRODUCTION: Before the internet and growth of digital media,

 

INTRODUCTION:

Before the internet and growth of
digital media, other than match attendance, television and traditional media
were the primary vehicles of sport consumption and revenue (Helland, 2007). Today,
however, new media consumption (i.e. digital media and social media) almost
matches television consumption in the U.K., as shown in data from a test
conducted by Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board, Ltd., which showed 26.7
million households own a TV and 26 million have access to ‘digital TV’ networks,
such as Amazon Prime Video or Netflix (BARB, 2018).

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According to Helland (2007, p. 118)
“Historically, the ties between sports
and the media have always been both strong and prevalent – and particularly in
football, where the popularity of the game has constituted a premise for the
symbiosis between sports and the media.”, and stemming from these
connections, research has begun to focus on the emergence of new media and “the future of sport broadcasting is
uniquely positioned between the analogue paradigm of long-standing television
broadcast networks and the digital prototype of agile new entrants.” (López-González,
Stavros and Smith, 2017, p. 175-176).

 

The aim of this study is to understand
the shift from traditional media broadcast of sport to digital media broadcast –
digital platforms used for live streaming i.e. streaming websites and paid
streaming services, and also live streams available on social media and social
networking sites – from a consumer perspective.

 

The structure of this proposal is
as follows – first, we look at the motivations and justifications for this
study, where different factors affecting the study are determined using
relevant literature in the field, along with brief guide to the literature
review required to be carried out.

Following this, the research
question, aims and objectives required to conduct this study are stated. The
methodological approaches used within the study are then discussed, along with
the proposed methods of research identified, as well as the method of sampling,
data collection and analysis of the collected data.

Finally, we identify some key
factors for the success of the study, along with limitations of this study and suggested
future research that it could lead to.

 

MOTIVATION AND JUSTIFICATION FOR
THE STUDY:

Past literature has looked at the virtualisation
of media (Lévy, 1998), the use and impact of digital media and social media (Hutchins
and Rowe, 2012; Filo, Lock and Karg, 2015), and its use in sport from various marketing
and communication perspectives (Shilbury et al., 2014; Pedersen, 2017). However,
there is little research on the use of emerging technology, like digital
platforms for video broadcast and live video broadcasting specifically, is very
limited (Hutchins and Rowe, 2009; Pedersen, 2012) and therefore, this proposal
aims to look into and suggest ways to fill this gap.

Moreover, digital streaming and
broadcasting platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video (who secured the broadcasting
rights for the ATP Tour tennis tournament) have been expressing interest in
live sports broadcast since 2017, and so have social media networking website
Facebook, on their new Facebook Watch platform, using Facebook Live video
technology as they have done before for the UEFA Champions League matches in
partnership with Fox Sports (Wilson, 2017).

 

While existing literature that has
looked at benefits of social media and social media replacing traditional media
in terms of communication (Mangold and Faulds, 2009; Rashtchy et al., 2007;
Mullin et al., 2014), it was Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) who looked at it from
an economic perspective – the low-cost requirement of digital and social media
while still having a reach of millions of users, making these platforms an
attractive opportunity for both small and large sports organisations.

However, this may not be beneficial
to the football industry, considering the large revenue incurred through
television broadcasting rights. From 2013 to 2016, the English Premier League
earned over 3 billion in revenue solely from broadcasting, and for the next 3
years, 2016 to 2019, this number is up to 5.14 billion (Statista, 2018). Deloitte’s
(2017) Annual Review of Football Finance 2017 shows that broadcasting rights in
England contribute 53% of the revenues of the clubs in the English Premier
League. This is due to the high demand and popularity of football in the United
Kingdom (Borland, 2003; Alavy, et al., 2010)

 

This number could potentially be
matched by their digital counterparts, Amazon Prime and Netflix, and also
social media websites Facebook and Twitter – Amazon’s net revenue in 2016 was
marked at $43.74 billion, which is approximately £31.5 billion, while Netflix also
scored in the billions at $8.8 billion i.e. approximately £6.4 billion. Also, according
to data from an Alexa (2018) report, which is a branch company of Amazon, the
United Kingdom has the second largest number of Netflix subscribers, with U.S.A.

being the first.

Another gap in the literature is
that there is extensive research conducted in the United States of America on
digital media, social media and its effects on consumption of traditional media
(Hutchins and Rowe, 2012; Filo, Lock and Karg, 2015). It is the combination of
the economic impact of this shift and the evolution of consumer preferences
that are fundamental to understanding the change in the demand for sport
(Borland, 2003).

 

Thus, another vital element would
be the fans and consumers themselves – the social aspect of sport and of
football cannot be ignored (Sanderson, 2011). The change in trends of
consumption are a result of people changing the way they access and consume
information, entertainment and engage with their interests and passions, albeit
in a “disorderly” manner (López-González, Stavros and Smith, 2017). Therefore,
this study aims to understand consumer preferences of watching live football,
which would not only be useful to the digital media and social media companies
that are now breaking into the sports broadcasting territory, but also to
traditional media broadcasters who are facing the diminishing numbers in viewership
on televised matches.

 

The literature review of this
project will focus on the four main areas described above. They are, first, the
broadcasting platforms of ‘new media’ and their potential benefits and/or
threats to traditional media broadcast, found in the works of Helland (2007), Hutchins
and Rowe (2012), Filo, Lock and Karg (2015) and López-González, Stavros and
Smith (2017); second, the economic argument of potential revenues generated by
new media against current revenues from traditional media, which is looked at
in-depth by academics like Hutchins and Rowe (2009), and Kaplan and Haenlein
(2010); third, the analysis of football and football consumption specifically
in the United Kingdom, analysed in the works of academicians such as Boyle and
Haynes (2004) and Boyle (2010); and fourth, the importance of fans and
consumers who watch live broadcasts of football events and engage with football
through both channels of media, as elicited in the works of Borland (2003) and Cleland
(2010).

 

PROPOSED RESEARCH – QUESTIONS,
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES

Research Question: Can new media
replace traditional media for live broadcast of football events in the UK?

 

Project Aim: To understand consumer
perceptions of live football broadcast on digital and social media versus
traditional media in the United Kingdom

 

Research Objectives:

1.     To
investigate current consumer perceptions on consuming live football events
through traditional broadcast media i.e. television and new media i.e. digital
and social media broadcasting platforms

2.     To
analyse consumers’ preferences in traditional or new media for the consumption
of live football events broadcasted in the United Kingdom

3.     To
understand the motivations of consumers for their preference of type of media

 

METHODOLOGY

This research project aims to
analyse the use of traditional and new media through a consumer perspective
approach. The research paradigm adopted is interpretivist, wherein the reality
of the events is constructed by the participants and their views and behaviour
in and of the phenomena being studied (Creswell, 2003).

Ontology is the study of the nature
of what already exists (Blaikie, 2003). The ontological underpinnings of this
research are from an idealist position, whereby social phenomena are
independent of natural phenomena, and depend on human culture and their own
interpretations and the meanings that they attach to their social reality
(Blaikie, 2003), which, in this study, would be consumer perceptions on what
they believe are the trends in broadcast media. This in turn overlaps with
Epistemology, which is based on the findings of ontological assumptions and is
concerned with the theory of knowledge and how it is gained (Grix, 2010). Here,
the epistemological assumption is of subjectivism or constructionism, building
upon the different opinions and preferences of the consumers and their
subjective thoughts and interpretations (Bryman, 2015).

 

The research strategy adopted is a
Qualitative study using a semi-structured interview format, as the object of
the research is consumer’s preferences and behaviour towards different forms of
media, which involves their ideas, culture, beliefs and perceptions (Edwards
and Skinner, 2010). For the purpose of this research, a geographical location
of the United Kingdom is determined, as well as a demographic of people who
consume football on a regular basis, which is one of the key factors of success
for this study – a relatively high understanding or knowledge level of live
football broadcast in the United Kingdom. Thus, the sample of participants is
chosen through the purposive-sampling method i.e. a non-probability sample of
participants that fit the research objective (Kothari, 2014) – students at
Universities in cities that have local clubs (Tapp and Clowes, 2002) competing
in the highest level of the national league, the English Premier League; locals
in cities with Premier League clubs watching live matches at local pubs (Weed,
2007), and digital and social media network users who identify themselves as football
fans (McCarthy et al., 2014). This method of sampling, used mainly in
naturalistic approaches, allows the researcher to select targeted groups of
individuals who would have relatively greater knowledge of the subject and
objects of research being studied, providing a level of trustworthiness and
quality of the data collected in the research being conducted (Anney, 2014).

Upon collecting the data through
these interviews, the appropriate method of analysis would be a thematic
approach, i.e. “a method that minimally organizes and describes the data
collected in detail by identifying, analyzing, interpreting and reporting
patterns (i.e. themes) within data.” (Smith and Caddick, 2012, p. 68).

 

POTENTIAL LIMITATIONS &
FUTURE RESEARCH SUGGESTIONS

The potential limitations of this
research lie in the short amount of time available to conduct it – a quantitative
or mixed-methods approach using longitudinal method of data collection would
allow a comparison in time (Tashakkori and Teddlie, 2003) of the trends in
media consumption of live football events, but due to the time constraints,
such research can only be stated as a future consideration.

Also, the geographic limitation to
the United Kingdom alienates the consumer preferences of those watching live
football broadcasts globally, and the types of media that are preferred around
the world. This is a growing aspect of the globalisation of sport and with new media
platforms allowing worldwide access to global sports and live sport broadcast, such
research can lead to better, more in-depth and relevant research for the sport
industry as a whole (Boyle and Haynes, 2004; Billings and Hardin, 2014).

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