Sports and Media: reinventing the link with our audiences

For me, I only knew team sport when I was young […]. Really, the little moral I know, I learned it on the football fields and the stages of theater which will remain my true universities.

Albert Camus, goalkeeper at Racing Universitaire Algérois.

From theater boards to football fields, the Nobel Prize for Literature, Albert Camus, offers a surprising combination. Astonishing but relevant link: sport is a spectacle. Just as the theater has its time and its rhythm (the acts, the scenes), the sport is part of a particular rhythm (a match, a half-time, a quarter-time). It has an aesthetic (the pure and fair gesture) and a place (the stadium). The sports spectacle is nothing, however, without the medium which allows it to capture the attention and inspire an ever more varied but also more demanding public. This growing demand from the public, the increasingly pressing demand for a highly individualized media and sports offer constitute the major challenge of the sports-media duo.

To meet this challenge, we have to innovate. Open a newspaper (L'Equipe, 1903), turn on the radio or television set (Tour de France filmed in 1948): each era has known its technological revolution and sport has followed suit. Admittedly, television remains the preferred media for the consumption of sport.

But it is urgent to adapt and understand that new technologies and digital media are shaking up the practice and consumption of sport. France is still in the soft underbelly of the world ranking of online sports consumption.

Does this mean that digital is doomed to remain the poor relation of sport? Quite the contrary! Two figures masterfully wring the neck of this idea: in 2019, 38 million French people actively used social media 1, including 33 million on their mobile (+ 2 million social media users in one year) 2 . Smartphones and tablets therefore appear to be an important lever for the development of online sports media consumption in France. Same observation for social networks: where in 2014 only 21% of French sports fans used them to follow sports, compared to 60% for Indonesia 3 , sport became in 2019 the second segment of content consumed on Instagram and YouTube 4 . It is now the consumers of sporting events who dictate the form in which the content is presented.

Approaching the digital revolution with ambition is to reinvent and perpetuate the link between the spectacularization of sport and sports ethics. Between the theater scene and the moral.

 

1 When should we say social media? When should we say social network? Social media is a platform on the Internet that allows its users to create content, organize it, modify it and comment on it. The social network is a category of social media: while the latter is based on content (YouTube), the social network is for the creation of communities and the interaction between people (Snapchat, LinkedIn).

2 Hootsuite, We Are Social, Rapport Digital Annuel 2018

3 Kurt Salmon, Kantar and Audiencia, Sport Web Challenge 2014, 360 ° views of sports players on the Internet.

4 Le Cercle Les Echos, July 26, 2018.

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