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Why We Watch Sports?
9 minute read · Issue Number 50 · January 8th, 2021
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If you enjoy watching sports just as much as I do, you’ll love today’s article.
Ever since the introduction of television and the globalization of sports, the insane demand for televised sports content made the broadcasting industry a multi-million dollar business (without even considering that’s the only way we can consume live sports now).
Nevertheless, a question remains. Why are so many people worldwide tuning in and returning to watch particular sports programs?
Tons of research prove people’s motivations to follow and watch news and media. However, not as much research exists to understand the motives for viewing televised sports.
On today’s Sports-Tech Biz Magazine edition, we’ll dive into the nitty-gritty of sports viewership motivations. What motivates people to sit and watch thousands of hours of random people running after a ball, tackling each other, or competing in the most arbitrary activities?
Let’s get right in!
Sports Viewership Motivation
People watch sports on television since the late 1930s, but it wasn’t until the late 1950s and early 1960s when local broadcasters televised sports consistently during the weekends.
Today, numerous sports media outlets worldwide provide sports content on-demand, 24/7, all year round, including during holidays.
You may ask, “why would my motivations to watch sports be any different than my motivations to consume other forms of media (i.e., watching a movie/TV show)?” I’m glad you ask.
In some essential way, sports contrasts with other forms of entertainment because non-sport entertainment is mostly fiction, rehearsed, and the outcomes are rarely in doubt.
On the other hand, most sports programs are live and non-planned — athletes have to figure it out on the stage! Whatever happens on that stage will come up on the news; athletes’ wages will depend on their performance, and an injury in-field translates to challenges in their real lives. There is both risk and luck at play.
Both the reality and uncertainty surrounding sports may trigger differing sets of viewing motivations.
A few sociologists suggest that sports viewership motivations are driven by:
Being an escape route for fans to have an experience.
Fulfilling the needs of sharing, feeling, and belonging.
Providing an acceptable outlet for exhibiting emotions and feelings.
Offering a relatively low-risk proposition.
Allowing a fan to feel like a contributing factor to a team’s success.
You may be thinking, “Wow, I’d love to know how people explain their motivations to watch sports.” Lucky you, my friend. Keep reading.
Motivations for Watching Television Sports
According to Walter Gantz, there are four relevant motivation factors:
For the thrill
“We are always watching for the thrill of it, thrill of it” — people watch to root, to ‘participate’ in the resolution process, and experience the emotional satisfaction associated with winning. It is the most critical motivational force leading to TV sports viewing.
To let loose
It’s a social thing — drinking, letting off steam, and "getting psyched" may be more enjoyable when in the company of others than alone.
Having a drink or two and letting off emotions may not be limited to actual attendance at the sporting event and is considered a strong motivation for TV sports viewing.
Not for the exam — fans acquire information about the players and the game itself to learn and talk about it later. Sports fans continuously learn, store, and categorize information about athletes and teams. It’s one of the main reasons why announcers frequently provide statistical information about the players.
To pass time
“There’s nothing else to do” — despite its attractiveness, sometimes, televised sports are the last resort when no other activity seems worthy of pursuing.
Televised sports viewers are motivated by a series of reasons related to their own internal needs and the screen's activities.
Motivations are strongest among those most interested and invested in sports. Additionally, televised sports' uses appear to be similar to reasons for attending sports events in person.
In short, exposure to sports content will result in a functional, emotional, and intellectual experience, motivating people to watch.
👾 The Future of Sports; We know a change in sports is coming. But how much, how soon, and to what end? Check out this excellent article by Bleacher Report about it!
🎙Democratizing the Sponsorships Marketplace; This week's Halftime Snack features Jason Bergman, the Co-founder & CEO of MarketPryce! We talked about Jason’s path towards creating MarketPryce, the chicken & the egg dilemma, why athletes, agents, and brands should use his platform, and so much more. Come snack with us!
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Until next week,
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Halftime Snacks Podcast