Top Communication Channels in Sports

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Media professionals use many communications channels to bring news and information to fans and industry professionals. Delve into some of the top media sources and find out how effectively communications professionals get their messages to the masses.

Radio Shows: Traditional Sporting Channel

Image via Flickr by Coca-Cola South Africa

Sports radio history dates back to March 30, 1964, when Bill Mazer hosted the first sports call-in show on WNBC Radio. Sports radio’s traditions continue today with channels such as ESPN Audio, which claims 60 percent of America’s sports radio market, according to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch.

ESPN Audio isn’t the only channel benefiting from its association with sports television. The Hollywood Reporter’s Alex Ben Block noted radio spinoffs from TV networks have helped sports radio boom to more than 27 million weekly listeners in the United States.

“If you look at TV ratings, 90 of the top 100 telecasts for the year are live sports,” explained Bill Wanger of Fox Sports Media. “The networks most involved in sports see radio as a great way to extend that brand.”

The enduring popularity of sports radio make this media form a key area of interest for sport management master’s degree graduate students interested in pursuing a career in sport marketing.

Podcasts: Affordable Way for Individuals to Share Their Voices

Podcasts are one of the most distinctive modern sports media channels, according to Bleacher Buzz. As an aural medium, podcasts are similar to radio programs, although the former are more affordable to produce. Individuals can also create and disseminate podcasts without the backing of a radio network or other production house. However, sports commentators, former sports stars, and other industry experts have created some of the most popular sports podcasts, as ranked by iTunes.

Some podcasts are created in connection with recognized sporting channels, including ESPN and Fox Sports, but podcasts rarely lose the authentic voice of their presenters. For example, Bill Simmons wasn’t afraid to speak out against NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on his podcast, B.S. Report. ESPN suspended Simmons for his actions, but incensed fans helped a #FreeSimmons trend on Twitter, and he returned to his job three weeks later.

Podcasts are also growing more popular. According to The Washington Post’s Cecilia Kang, in 2009, podcast listeners numbered 25 million people. Five years later, RawVoice, a podcast research data firm, noted listeners had tripled to 75 million.

Industry analysts say listeners have a personal connection to podcasts. Since listeners care, they tend to absorb marketing messages. This treatment gives podcasts the potential to be very profitable, according to Kang.

Social Media Platforms: Sports Get Social

The sporting world embraces social media platforms. Like podcasts, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter give anyone with an interest in sports a voice — from athletes and fans to TV and radio channels.

However, social media’s appeal stems from its capacity to foster conversations. While radio shows may air caller comments, network technicians screen and filter those comments. With social media, however, anyone with access to the technology can get involved and interact. According to a Catalyst fan engagement study, 72 percent of sports fans love interacting on social media for the pregame buzz. Fans also stay engaged with historic photos and videos, bloopers, and game discussions.

From traditional media to more modern channels, sporting fans and industry professionals have many ways to keep up with the action in their favorite games.