Technology disruption in sports news consumption opens up new avenues for revenue, funding

Sports news consumption has evolved over the years, according to the technology in play.

Growing up in the 80’s and into the 90’s, our daily craving for sports news or game results were satiated by reading print media like The Star, Berita Harian, and the New Straits Times first thing in the morning. It was truly a case of picking up the newspaper and turning directly to the back pages first! This was to learn about games that were played the day before.

We then looked forward to the afternoon paper, The Malay Mail, for the results and reports on the European games that were played overnight. Later in the evening, we switched mediums and watched the 8 o’clock news, hoping the game highlights were covered by either RTM or TV3. Those who wanted to learn more in-depth news, would wait for the next Shoot magazine edition.

At the end of the last millennium, computers gave us access to timely news, through the websites of media outlets. These were also the nascent years of sports fans getting their news fix from journalists and citizens who began blogging.

Blogging took an interesting turn as it allowed direct, though limited, access to the authors.

Mobile technology and the social media boom of today has given us “full on” interactivity and “real-time” access to breaking news, especially via our favoured journalists or influencers.

Today, sports news consumption comes directly from the journalists or influencers through the various social media apps.

Today, we follow individuals like @HRHJohorII, @edleenismail, @HareshDeol, @ellfmrzsmn, @keeshmatstats, @SykrhZlkfly, @A_marea, @MyBahasBola, @hafizal_hamad, @nafisnba, @juanbudiman, @chrisraj23, @rabkairahas, @PaulRajes, @SafirulAbuBakar and many others on Twitter.

The fact that there are just too many to name here, shows how segmented it has become, to match the many tastes.

Sports news consumption has evolved from following the media outlets to interacting judiciously with individual journalists or influencers.

Irrespective of whether this has enhanced the Fourth Estate, it has definitely opened up commercial opportunities between journalists and influencers directly with their consumers.

On Jan 6, 2022, The Athletic was acquired by The New York Times for US$550 million. An online, subscription based, sports focused news company, The Athletic employs around 400 journalists across the United States and Europe. Some of them are top-line, and well respected in their field, offering an exciting mix of long-form investigative, and analytical insights into the world’s top sporting leagues, teams, players, and games.

The sale of The Athletic to The New York Times shows us how sports news consumption has evolved globally, and how the owners of The Athletic were quick to recognise the value of astute, and top-line sports journalists in this era of interactive sports news consumption.

Direct-to-consumer interaction between journalists and influencers will enable, and enhance the rate of growth of the community, or grassroots level of sports, in Malaysia. This is an aspect to look out for as the Malaysian sports industry anxiously waits for the government’s National Sports Vision 2030 (VSN2030).

There has never been this micro a level of interaction between sports fans and the community, or grassroots level of sports. One would never have heard of teams like Kerteh Football Club, or be able to directly follow leagues like the Football Association of Selangor Women’s Super League, had it not been for mobile social media.

As a result, the sponsorship landscape will evolve from brands sponsoring one major sports asset, to many minor sports assets. It will also open up valuable opportunities for localised sponsorships from small- and medium-enterprises (SMEs) within the locality of the grassroots, or community.

Both the VSN2030 and the Sports Industry Blueprint must take note of this, for the government to facilitate and spur the private sector side of sport, and club system.

This is key as it would help ease the burden of funding from the government in the long term, by facilitating contributions from household income and SMEs.

Nur Jasni Mohamed is the founder and group managing editor of sports consultancy outfit Sportswork Group Sdn Bhd. This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Twentytwo13.