History of Sports Broadcasting

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When people sit down today to watch a live televised game between two teams of their interests, most do not know the evolution of this broadcasting. Additionally, when they choose either to watch sports news on TV, ESPNU, CBS college sports, and Fox Soccer Channel, Sky News or Supersport, they have no idea of what happened before they could be able to enjoy their game. Sports broadcasting evolved many years ago. In this regard, it has become one of the multi-billion businesses in the world. Sports have attracted huge chunks of money from sponsorships and sale of broadcasting rights. Sport organizations such as the federations, leagues, associations and clubs have become very wealthy. For instance in 2008 only, the Federation of International Football (FIFA), generated over 800 million Euros after selling their broadcasting rights to the governing body of European soccer (UEFA) (Penna & Guenzi, 2014). According to the reports by UEFA, over 155 million viewers of television watched the finals of UEFA in over 250 countries. This just show what sports broadcasting has become. This paper is going to evaluate sports broadcasting industry, and how it has evolved over time.

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In the American culture, sports broadcasting have become very important as more fans are watching the summer Olympic Games, live football matches, FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Cricket World Cup, Super Bowl, Rugby Union World Cup, or the Formula 1 Championship (Penna & Guenzi, 2014). This large viewership has attracted even the youngest individuals ascribe o a particular sports team. From Brazil to England to Newzealand, sports have become everyones interest at albeit for different reasons. The reason as why advertisers want to put their ads in such advertising medium such is the huge number of viewers across the world. For instance, advertising during the Summer Olympic Games is very beneficial as there are many viewers in the different countries of the world. As such, the brand being advertised is likely to get many customers in the days following the advertisement. As such, advertisers would be very keen to put their ads in sports broadcasting mediums.

History of the Medium

In US, The broadcasting of sports started in Kansas in 1911. In this regard, around 1000 people assembled in a joint to watch the reproduction of the football game between Kansas and Missouri (McChesney, 2009). This was done in a particular evening when the game was still being played live in the city of Missouri. To achieve this, the Western Union was forced to set up a telegraph wire, which was connected to the venue of the game in Missouri. In this regard, after the major events of the game, the broadcasters had to announce the event and map it in a screen akin a football field. According to McChesney (2009), the information about the happenings was then telegraphed back to Kansas where the people were assembled. This was indeed the first step towards live broadcast of sports. Thereafter, an experimental live broadcast was held in 1919 in the Kansas City of Missouri. Notably, this was not really a live broadcast, as the broadcasters had to receive the news via a broadcast and announce them as if they were present in the particular field of sports.

According to Be On Air, (2015), the first voice broadcast happened in the United States in April 11, 1921. In this regard, the Westinghouse station KDKA, located in Pittsburgh made a broadcast of a 10-round boxing match (McChesney, 2009).. Later In the year, they broadcasted a baseball game that was played between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. This voice broadcast was made from the Forbes field. In October the same year, a football match between the University of Pittsburgh and West Virginia University was broadcasted live on radio. The curtains for live television broadcast for sports in the US, however, were raised in May 17, 1939 (McChesney, 2009). This was in a televised match between Princeton Tigers and the Columbia Lions and which was broadcasted live on NBC. However, it is important to note that the first live televised sports event took place in Germany in 1936 during the Summer Olympics that were held in Berlin. From then on, people many started acquiring televisions. As such, more live content was watched via the television sets. Today, there are so many sports channels in the world. In this regard, the United States has TV, ESPN, CBS college sports, and Fox Soccer Channels.

Medium Audience

The medium audience for sports cuts across gender and generations. From the young to the old, from the disabled to the lunatics, all members of the society watch sports. In this regard, sports have no discrimination and most of them such as football have no age limit. Every corner of the world has a game that is loved by their fans. The consumption of sports broadcast is high when there are major events such as the Summer Olympics and the World Cup. In those times, many people watch the televised broadcasts of the sports events. Specifically, according to the UEFA EURO 2008 review (2008), over 155 million television viewers watched the final round of the UEFA Champions League. This just shows how the issues of live sports broadcasting have excited people.

Media Buying/Planning

In sports broadcasting, there exists a special relationship been the owners of the events (federations and clubs), the sponsors and the advertisers. In this regard, according to Soderman & Dolles (2010), various ways, as well as different distribution channels, are deployed to broadcast sporting events. In the determination of the main broadcasters, three main parties are involved. These include the sports rights holders, the licensed broadcasters, and the general viewers. The sports rights holders are the main organizers of the events. In the case of the Summer Olympics, the sports rights holders are the various bodies that constitute the IAAF. Similarly, in the case of the Champions League, UEFA is the sports rights holder. The licensed broadcasters are the advertisers who air the content either on the television, radio or even in the internet. Broadcasters can also be the sponsors who intend to gain popularity from the sporting events or test their new technological advancements. Notably, they can either air the content directly or subcontract other channels to air. The sports broadcasting rights are sold to advertisers depending on the popularity of the vent. More popular sports such as the Summer Olympics and the World Cup attract a huge amount of cash for the broadcasting and advertising rights.

Industry Analysis

The major players of the sports broadcasting industry are the media owners, the regulatory bodies and the fans (Soderman & Dolles, 2010). The various federations that govern different sports have a say on how the particular sport events are going to be advertised. As such, they make rules pertaining to the selling of the broadcasting rights. According to Penna & Guenzi (2014), the media owners are the ones who transmit the live broadcasts to the audience who are the fans. As such, they benefit by charging the live broadcasts. The fans are the ones who contribute towards the airing of the sports events as they pay for those channels. As such, the three players are very important in sports broadcasting. The broadcasting of sports events is very different from other news mediums. In this regard, channels that are meant to broadcast sports are squarely on sports events. However, the other news channel can show news related to sports. Specifically, sports broadcasting mediums do not air other news but only news that is related to sporting activities.

Future Outlooks

The current trends in the sports broadcasting is the use of 3D viewing of sports events. Additionally, the sports industry is the biggest business in the world. This comes from the media rights and sponsorships, to the foods and drinks in the stadia. Roughly, 620 US dollars are spent every single year in the sports industry. In future, sports broadcasters will have to air content that can be viewed from smartphones and tablets. Additionally, they need to evaluate other modern ways of broadcasting other than the traditional ones. The sponsorship deals for sports will continue to increase as the demand for sports content continues to increase. Broadcasters will need to refine their content so that it can be more appealing to the increasing sports fan. Indeed, the future of sports is still bright with the emergence of new sporting activities. Those plus other trends will shape the future of sports.


Be On Air,. (2015). History of Sports Broadcasting | Be On Air. Retrieved 15 February 2016, from http://beonair.com/history-of-sports-broadcasting/McChesney, R. W. (2009). Media made sport: A history of sports coverage in the United States. Media, sports, and society, 49-69.

Penna, D., & Guenzi, P. (2014). How to use a sponsorship platform to support an international master brand strategy: The UniCredit UEFA champions league sponsorship. Journal of Brand Management, 21(2), 133-149.

Soderman, S., & Dolles, H. (2010). Sponsoring the Beijing Olympic games: patterns of sponsor advertising. Asia Pacific Journal of Marketing and Logistics, 22(1), 8-24.

SportBusiness Group,. (2016). SportBusiness Group. Retrieved 15 February 2016, from http://www.sportbusiness.com/

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