INTRODUCTION:Before the internet and growth ofdigital media, other than match attendance, television and traditional mediawere the primary vehicles of sport consumption and revenue (Helland, 2007). Today,however, new media consumption (i.
e. digital media and social media) almostmatches television consumption in the U.K., as shown in data from a testconducted by Broadcaster’s Audience Research Board, Ltd., which showed 26.7million households own a TV and 26 million have access to ‘digital TV’ networks,such as Amazon Prime Video or Netflix (BARB, 2018).
According to Helland (2007, p. 118)”Historically, the ties between sportsand the media have always been both strong and prevalent – and particularly infootball, where the popularity of the game has constituted a premise for thesymbiosis between sports and the media.”, and stemming from theseconnections, research has begun to focus on the emergence of new media and “the future of sport broadcasting isuniquely positioned between the analogue paradigm of long-standing televisionbroadcast 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 understandthe shift from traditional media broadcast of sport to digital media broadcast –digital platforms used for live streaming i.e. streaming websites and paidstreaming services, and also live streams available on social media and socialnetworking sites – from a consumer perspective. The structure of this proposal isas follows – first, we look at the motivations and justifications for thisstudy, where different factors affecting the study are determined usingrelevant literature in the field, along with brief guide to the literaturereview required to be carried out.Following this, the researchquestion, aims and objectives required to conduct this study are stated. Themethodological approaches used within the study are then discussed, along withthe proposed methods of research identified, as well as the method of sampling,data collection and analysis of the collected data.
Finally, we identify some keyfactors for the success of the study, along with limitations of this study and suggestedfuture research that it could lead to. MOTIVATION AND JUSTIFICATION FORTHE STUDY:Past literature has looked at the virtualisationof media (Lévy, 1998), the use and impact of digital media and social media (Hutchinsand Rowe, 2012; Filo, Lock and Karg, 2015), and its use in sport from various marketingand communication perspectives (Shilbury et al., 2014; Pedersen, 2017). However,there is little research on the use of emerging technology, like digitalplatforms for video broadcast and live video broadcasting specifically, is verylimited (Hutchins and Rowe, 2009; Pedersen, 2012) and therefore, this proposalaims to look into and suggest ways to fill this gap.
Moreover, digital streaming andbroadcasting platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video (who secured the broadcastingrights for the ATP Tour tennis tournament) have been expressing interest inlive sports broadcast since 2017, and so have social media networking websiteFacebook, on their new Facebook Watch platform, using Facebook Live videotechnology as they have done before for the UEFA Champions League matches inpartnership with Fox Sports (Wilson, 2017). While existing literature that haslooked at benefits of social media and social media replacing traditional mediain 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 froman economic perspective – the low-cost requirement of digital and social mediawhile still having a reach of millions of users, making these platforms anattractive opportunity for both small and large sports organisations. However, this may not be beneficialto the football industry, considering the large revenue incurred throughtelevision broadcasting rights. From 2013 to 2016, the English Premier Leagueearned over 3 billion in revenue solely from broadcasting, and for the next 3years, 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 inEngland contribute 53% of the revenues of the clubs in the English PremierLeague.
This is due to the high demand and popularity of football in the UnitedKingdom (Borland, 2003; Alavy, et al., 2010) This number could potentially bematched by their digital counterparts, Amazon Prime and Netflix, and alsosocial media websites Facebook and Twitter – Amazon’s net revenue in 2016 wasmarked at $43.74 billion, which is approximately £31.5 billion, while Netflix alsoscored in the billions at $8.8 billion i.e.
approximately £6.4 billion. Also, accordingto data from an Alexa (2018) report, which is a branch company of Amazon, theUnited Kingdom has the second largest number of Netflix subscribers, with U.S.A.being the first.
Another gap in the literature isthat there is extensive research conducted in the United States of America ondigital media, social media and its effects on consumption of traditional media(Hutchins and Rowe, 2012; Filo, Lock and Karg, 2015). It is the combination ofthe economic impact of this shift and the evolution of consumer preferencesthat are fundamental to understanding the change in the demand for sport(Borland, 2003). Thus, another vital element wouldbe the fans and consumers themselves – the social aspect of sport and offootball cannot be ignored (Sanderson, 2011). The change in trends ofconsumption are a result of people changing the way they access and consumeinformation, entertainment and engage with their interests and passions, albeitin 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 companiesthat are now breaking into the sports broadcasting territory, but also totraditional media broadcasters who are facing the diminishing numbers in viewershipon televised matches. The literature review of thisproject will focus on the four main areas described above. They are, first, thebroadcasting platforms of ‘new media’ and their potential benefits and/orthreats to traditional media broadcast, found in the works of Helland (2007), Hutchinsand Rowe (2012), Filo, Lock and Karg (2015) and López-González, Stavros andSmith (2017); second, the economic argument of potential revenues generated bynew media against current revenues from traditional media, which is looked atin-depth by academics like Hutchins and Rowe (2009), and Kaplan and Haenlein(2010); third, the analysis of football and football consumption specificallyin the United Kingdom, analysed in the works of academicians such as Boyle andHaynes (2004) and Boyle (2010); and fourth, the importance of fans andconsumers who watch live broadcasts of football events and engage with footballthrough both channels of media, as elicited in the works of Borland (2003) and Cleland(2010).
PROPOSED RESEARCH – QUESTIONS,AIMS AND OBJECTIVESResearch Question: Can new mediareplace traditional media for live broadcast of football events in the UK? Project Aim: To understand consumerperceptions of live football broadcast on digital and social media versustraditional media in the United Kingdom Research Objectives:1. Toinvestigate current consumer perceptions on consuming live football eventsthrough traditional broadcast media i.e. television and new media i.e. digitaland social media broadcasting platforms2.
Toanalyse consumers’ preferences in traditional or new media for the consumptionof live football events broadcasted in the United Kingdom3. Tounderstand the motivations of consumers for their preference of type of media METHODOLOGYThis research project aims toanalyse the use of traditional and new media through a consumer perspectiveapproach. The research paradigm adopted is interpretivist, wherein the realityof the events is constructed by the participants and their views and behaviourin and of the phenomena being studied (Creswell, 2003).
Ontology is the study of the natureof what already exists (Blaikie, 2003). The ontological underpinnings of thisresearch are from an idealist position, whereby social phenomena areindependent of natural phenomena, and depend on human culture and their owninterpretations and the meanings that they attach to their social reality(Blaikie, 2003), which, in this study, would be consumer perceptions on whatthey believe are the trends in broadcast media. This in turn overlaps withEpistemology, which is based on the findings of ontological assumptions and isconcerned with the theory of knowledge and how it is gained (Grix, 2010). Here,the epistemological assumption is of subjectivism or constructionism, buildingupon the different opinions and preferences of the consumers and theirsubjective thoughts and interpretations (Bryman, 2015). The research strategy adopted is aQualitative study using a semi-structured interview format, as the object ofthe research is consumer’s preferences and behaviour towards different forms ofmedia, which involves their ideas, culture, beliefs and perceptions (Edwardsand Skinner, 2010). For the purpose of this research, a geographical locationof the United Kingdom is determined, as well as a demographic of people whoconsume football on a regular basis, which is one of the key factors of successfor this study – a relatively high understanding or knowledge level of livefootball broadcast in the United Kingdom. Thus, the sample of participants ischosen through the purposive-sampling method i.
e. a non-probability sample ofparticipants that fit the research objective (Kothari, 2014) – students atUniversities in cities that have local clubs (Tapp and Clowes, 2002) competingin the highest level of the national league, the English Premier League; localsin cities with Premier League clubs watching live matches at local pubs (Weed,2007), and digital and social media network users who identify themselves as footballfans (McCarthy et al., 2014). This method of sampling, used mainly innaturalistic approaches, allows the researcher to select targeted groups ofindividuals who would have relatively greater knowledge of the subject andobjects of research being studied, providing a level of trustworthiness andquality of the data collected in the research being conducted (Anney, 2014).
Upon collecting the data throughthese interviews, the appropriate method of analysis would be a thematicapproach, i.e. “a method that minimally organizes and describes the datacollected in detail by identifying, analyzing, interpreting and reportingpatterns (i.e. themes) within data.” (Smith and Caddick, 2012, p. 68). POTENTIAL LIMITATIONS RESEARCH SUGGESTIONSThe potential limitations of thisresearch lie in the short amount of time available to conduct it – a quantitativeor mixed-methods approach using longitudinal method of data collection wouldallow a comparison in time (Tashakkori and Teddlie, 2003) of the trends inmedia 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 tothe United Kingdom alienates the consumer preferences of those watching livefootball broadcasts globally, and the types of media that are preferred aroundthe world. This is a growing aspect of the globalisation of sport and with new mediaplatforms allowing worldwide access to global sports and live sport broadcast, suchresearch can lead to better, more in-depth and relevant research for the sportindustry as a whole (Boyle and Haynes, 2004; Billings and Hardin, 2014).