When the home team is not featured: Comparison of two television network commentaries during broadcasts of the 2006 FIFA World Football Cup

This is an excerpt from an article that I co-wrote with my master of sport management supervisors and was published in Sport Management Review in February 2012.

The authors are:

Olan Kees Martin Scott – University of Ballarat
Brad Hill & Dwight H. Zakus – Griffith University

I have only included the abstract, introduction, and implications.

A link to the full publication is available from SMR and http://tiny.cc/47brcw

The full reference in APA format is:

Scott, O. K. M., Hill, B., & Zakus, D. (2012). When the home team is not featured: Comparison of commentary between two television networks’ broadcast of the 2006 FIFA World Football Cup. Sport Management Review, 15(1), 23-32. doi: 10.1016/j.smr.2011.05.003

Abstract:

Broadcast commentary of sport contests is often seen as biased or ‘‘one-eyed’’ for the ‘‘home team’’. This study sought to determine if this labelling was correct. Two different broadcasts of the national Dutch team’s games during the 2006 Federation Internationale de Football Association’s (FIFA) World Cup in Germany were compared. Both the Dutch Nederlandse Omroep Stichting (NOS) and Australian Special Broadcast Services (SBS) networks each televised this team’s matches, together providing eight matches for analysis. First, the framing strategies used by each broadcaster were identified through a fourteen category thematic scale derived from the data. Secondly, a Chi-square analysis of the results revealed significant associations for the types of themes employed by the home network (NOS) and those of a neutral broadcaster (SBS). Results also revealed associations for the use of nationalistic themes in the commentary. These results have salience for sport management and sport media studies as audience size and therefore revenue generation is of import.

Introduction:

Since the beginning of the 20th century, the sport media relationship has constantly evolved. From simple printed game reports to the current interactive, on-demand electronic formats sport and media have become dependent on one another for success; what Jhally (2006) labelled the sport-media complex. The symbiotic relationship between these two institutions generates a large portion of the revenues necessary for each aspect of the complex to survive financially (Rowe, 1996, 2008), among other ways, as revenues are predominantly achieved through audience creation and through sponsorship. Interwoven within this relationship, however, was the media’s ability to effect cultures and societies through the mediation of the audiences’ consciousness. It is through the use of intentionally scripted ‘‘frames’’ (Eastman, Brown, & Kovatch, 1996) that this occurs. Moments of televised sport, such as the ‘‘black power’’ protest salute by American sprinters Tommie Smith and John Carlos during the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games, are regarded as ‘‘a moment that would have heavy consequences for all it chose to represent’’ (Bass, 1999, p. 3).

The ability of commentators to culturally influence perceptions of television audiences is related to embedding of framed themes into network broadcasts scripts that often include topics that appeal and seek to maintain viewer interest. A key theme typically employed by networks was the ideological use of nationalism (Guo, Cheong, & Chen, 2007; L’Etang, 2006). The use of nationalism in media broadcasts allowed networks to connect with audiences through dialogue that promotes a viewer’s home nation. The use of scripted dialogue in commentary of mega-events using nationalism to capture television audiences was logical as networks typically focus broadcasts on aspects of an event that involved their home country (Larson & Rivenburgh, 1991). Through their participation in the Olympic Games numerous countries obtained abundant ‘‘home country’’ content that is used to align sport competitions to their respective national audiences.

Yet, as a global media mega-event, the format of the FIFA World Football Cup is limited in terms of the number of participating nations; only 32 nations compete in this event. As a result, many networks holding national broadcast  rights do not have home country content to telecast. Even so, these networks still have to generate television audiences to obtain revenues to cover costs of their broadcast fees, production, and to enhance their own investments.

Such restrictions on ‘‘home team’’ content demands that many networks have to differently frame their broadcasts to generate audiences. This study sought to understand how two national television networks framed their broadcasts of the Netherlands’ 2006 World Cup matches to their respective home audiences; particularly, in this case, when one network’s broadcasts did not involve their own national team. While understanding how broadcast content is scripted is worthy of study in its own right, this study included a focus on: how broadcasts not including a ‘‘home team’’, thereby reducing the use of nationalistic themes, were scripted; how thematic cross-cultural mapping occurs; and whether or not scripts served a purpose in such broadcasts. This study examined all of the games of the 2006 World Cup that the Netherlands played, cataloguing and contrasting the discourses used by two television networks broadcasting these same matches to their respective nations. Differences in discourse by Netherlands’ NOS and Australia’s SBS television networks allowed nationalistic biases to be identified. In addition, quantitative comparisons were made both within and between broadcasters, allowing for cross-cultural and linguistic differences to be revealed.

Implications

Even though it was expected that networks broadcasting home country content such as NOS would use nationalistic themes, what was not expected was the use of nationalistic themes from countries competing in that broadcast by the SBS network. Typically, broadcasters rely on the use of home country content from sport events to connect to their home audiences. This finding that SBS used nationalistic themes of Dutch history and Dutch fans ritualistic celebration in commentary significantly more than NOS network to connect to their Australian audiences was surprising. In fact, these findings are counterintuitive as it is expected that Dutch commentary would favour the use of their history and their fans’ ritualistic celebration and not SBS. Dutch fan support at matches, with their flag waving and wearing of the Dutch colour orange, should be an important theme to promote in capturing, building, and maintaining Dutch television audiences. Yet, SBS commentary focused on the use of theses themes significantly more than NOS.

Inspection of language in themes of Dutch history and ritualistic celebration used in SBS commentary reveals Dutch history is educational, while ritualistic celebration appears as educational, descriptive, and emotive in nature. Most SBS commentary was additional to the actual visual imagery of ritualistic celebration being pointed out and focussed on by the commentators at various moments in the broadcast. This style of commentary broadens the scope of material broadcast in attempts to appeal to multiple viewers and maintain audience reach. Providing educational, descriptive, and emotive material that is additional to the visual imagery of the football match allows the commentary to cater for audiences who may not be interested in the game itself, but are attracted by the content about the countries, spectators, and other non-game related elements.

Reference to Dutch crowd support in SBS commentary, even though not promoting nationalism toward Australia, may elicit just such an emotional attachment between spectators and viewers, increasing entertainment value and enabling SBS to better capture and maintain audience interest. Tzanelli (2006) indicated that displays of ritualistic celebration broadcast at major sport events were attempts to stimulate passion and emotion in viewers connecting them to broadcasts and to sports. Highlighting the passionate support Dutch fans displayed toward their country and making reference to their ritualistic celebration within SBS commentary might also have been an attempt to assist in the enculturation process of football/soccer in Australia. Focusing on the ritualistic celebration of Dutch fans in SBS commentary might have been a tactic to positively influence the knowledge, belief, and value structure of Australian sport consumers to aid their adoption of football/soccer.

Billings and Tambosi (2004) noted that commentators have the ability to ‘‘culturally influence perceptions’’ (p. 163) of television audiences. The focus on ritualistic celebration by SBS broadcasts suggests that this may have been the case. SBS commentators might have taken the opportunity for not being able to broadcast home country content to influence cultural perceptions of viewers about football/soccer in Australia as stereotypes or beliefs held within these viewers’ minds would be limited with respect to the Dutch and their opposition teams. In this way SBS broadcasts promoted areas of interest they felt would better connect audiences to their broadcast content and at the same time advertise the entertaining and exciting elements of this sport encouraging viewers to increase their involvement.

When little if any home country content is available for networks to broadcast, it appears they use telecasts as a promotional platform for other regular prime-time programming which, is consistent with findings from Billings, Eastman, and Newton (1998). In attempts by SBS to both build and maintain audiences for the month in which the World Cup was shown, references to Australia and its football team the Socceroos were made during commentator discourse of broadcasts.

With a heightened focus on football in Australia and higher viewer numbers watching, SBS was provided an opportunity to also increase ratings for its other programs that it more regularly airs, along with the football programs. However, what was not expected was the limited frequency of use of this theme and the manner in which it was employed. Inspection of dialogue revealed that SBS used this theme primarily to promote upcoming matches involving the Australian team. No comparisons were made within commentary for the Australian Socceroos football team and Dutch team being shown, which limited the possibility for any discussion of a nationalistic nature. Even more interesting is the lack of reference to the Australian team’s coach during the 2006 FIFA World Cup, Guus Hiddink, who is Dutch. Thus, SBS did not frame telecasts involving the Dutch team and their opponents with analysis of the Australian football team. Telecasts of sport events are more than sight and sound with themes used in scripting and framing the ‘‘glue’’ that provides entertaining theatre keeping audiences watching no matter their interest level in that sport. Understanding that media commentator’s use various key themes in their broadcasts dependant upon their audience can assist sport managers to develop or maintain relationships with networks. Sport managers can assist networks to identify these various relevant themes for their market ensuring networks are continually provided with content that will create large audience size and revenue generation.

The full article is available from SMR and http://tiny.cc/47brcw

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Some of my experiences on leaving home (from #sportjc)

On the 10th of April, I participated in an online chat (#sportjc) on Twitter hosted by @sportjobchat, which is a twitter handle or user name created by Remi Sabouri (Twitter @rsabouri) and Jonathan Levitt (@JWLevitt) whose main purpose is to help other entry-level (typically newly graduated students) job seekers discuss the job search (with recruiters, other students, academics, and others) and @sportjobchat acts as a filter for job advertisements.

Prior to the chat, @sportjobchat had been asked by a few fellow chat participants if there would be questions about working outside of the USA (Note: this chat is somewhat Ameri-centric, as the hosts and (seemingly) most of the participants are from the USA) and @sportjobchat asked me if I could inform the participants about my experiences working and studying in another country. For those new to my writings, I’m originally from London, Ontario and have lived in Australia since 2005.

During this particular chat, one of the questions posed to the participants was whether any had a desire to work or had worked/studied internationally. I answered that I’d both studied and worked in Australia and noted that leaving home had many pros and cons. I was then asked by the host for my top pro and worst con. My biggest pro was “A3: Biggest pro – it’s different and gives me both work but more importantly new life experiences that I’ll leverage later in life #sportjc” and my biggest con was “A3: Worst thing I did was compare overseas nations to home. Doesn’t have this & that, rather than focus on the positives #sportjc.” As Tweets are limited to 140 characters, which hinders one from providing details, I thought I would elaborate using this medium.

I’ll start with my biggest con, which is the negative and progress to the positives about the benefits from my pro. As noted, my biggest mistaken upon moving here was comparing everything to home in Canada: Driving and walking on the left, the funny pronunciation of Aussies, store sizes, availability of my favourite items, the higher cost of goods, and many more. Right away, these comparisons put all my experiences in a negative light, as they were compared, unfavourably, to Canada. Even good experiences were downgraded due to my comparisons. For those embarking on an overseas or international trip, I offer this piece of advice: Take everything as it is. You aren’t home for a reason (I’m hoping you chose to leave) so don’t compare your new place of residence to home, because it could put a dark cloud on all your new experiences. Since I don’t want to cast a negative cloud over this post, I’ll end the negativity here.

As previously mentioned, my biggest pro was that I was living in a different country and I got to do many new things (socially, new educational pursuits, and new work experiences), which I would be able to leverage later in life. Once I was in the proper mindset to enjoy my new life here in Australia, I realised all the “cool” things I could do that I couldn’t do in London, Ontario.

I surfed for the first time and bought a surfboard! I now own two surfboards, two body boards, and one skim board. I think the only board I’m missing is a skateboard ;). I got my scuba diving certificate and dove at the Great Barrier Reef and in the Southern Ocean. I’ve been skydiving twice over the beach at Byron Bay. I watched Australian Rules Football (AFL), Rugby League, and Rugby Union games for the first time. I’m not sure I’d have done any or all of these activities if I hadn’t left London, so I’m grateful I did.

I met many interesting people from all over the world during my master of sport management coursework (people from France, Oman, Germany, the Netherlands, USA, other place in Canada, and many more). I got to learn from them how sport is offered and which sports are popular in those nations. I was a research assistant for a variety of professors, which fostered my desire to do a masters thesis and PhD.

I worked with the AFL doing surveys on the Gold Coast area to see if there was public support for a new AFL team; there was and the team started last year, the Gold Coast Suns. I got to work for the V8 Supercars and the Indy Car series when it came to the Gold Coast for the Nikon Gold Coast 300.

I left the Gold Coast in 2010 to take up a full-time position as a teaching and researching academic at the University of Ballarat in Victoria near Melbourne. The interview process was quite extensive (my response to their selection criteria was many pages long!). I gained valuable experience as an academic in my 19 months there and met many wonderful people, who I consider friends and good colleagues. In January of 2012, I took up a new position at Edith Cowan University where I now work. I left University of Ballarat to take this new job because my research support (time and finance) is greater and I have a lowered teaching fraction. The move to Perth was fantastic and I’m really happy in my new role here. Perth has many great opportunities for me that I’m going to exploit, like living near the beach and being able to snorkel on a daily basis, which I do.

Through my academic and professional endeavours since I started in 2007, I’ve been able to travel to many nations to present my research at a variety of conferences. I’ve attended four Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand (SMAANZ) conferences (Auckland, NZ; Fremantle, Gold Coast, and Melbourne, Australia), two Sport Marketing Association (SMA) conferences (Gold Coast, Australia and Cleveland, USA), one North American Society for the Sociology of Sport (NASSS) conference in San Diego, USA, one North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) conference in London, Ontario, and three European Association for Sport Management (EASM) confereces (Heidelberg, Germany; Amsterdam, the Netherlands; and Madrid, Spain). I’d previously been to several of these places, but many were new places that I hadn’t visited before and my research allowed me to attend and present at each of these conferences and see the sights in these places (Important note: I paid my own way to all but two (London and Madrid were partially funded)). I think this is important to note, otherwise, a reader may think that universities just pay for everything (I wish this were that case).

As you can read, leaving home has many pitfalls and difficulties, once you have overcome those, it became a wonderful experience for me. Had I not left home, I’m not sure I would have done as many things as I’ve been able to do, nor had the academic and professional success that I am currently enjoying.

As always, if something else comes to mind, I’ll update it.

Results of tweetchat #1.

As previously written, I conducted a tweetchat with my class on 28 March. Here are a few results,

1097 Total Tweets in 95 minutes

Ranged from 100 (me @olanscott: The next highest was a student with 50) Tweets to 1 per person
-Note: It’s not surprising that I had the most tweets, as I was moderating the tweetchat, and asking the questions. Further, I would reply to students’ comments to query them in their responses and further their thoughts.

66 participants

44 Students tweeted 10 times or more  and 22 of the 44 Tweeted at least 20 times).

Topics for live tweetchat #2 – Updated 26/04/2012

UPDATE: I’ve deleted the topic about the Melbourne Demons as #SPM2122 discussed this topic in class. Topics have been updated on 26 April and these should be the final topics.

On 28 March 2012, I conducted a full lecture online using Twitter. It forms part of an assessment item for my first year unit Sport Marketing (unit code #SPM2122) in the Bachelor of Sport, Recreation, and Leisure. #SPM2122 is doing it again in Week 10 of our semester.

This tweet chat will start with the last topic from tweetchat #1, as it was skipped. I received quite a few emails/tweets from students who were eager to discuss this topic, so I’m carrying it over.

As I find things that we can discuss in live tweet 2, I’ll post them here.

Topic 1:

Social media. Recently USA sports magazine Sport Illustrated (www.si.com) put a hashtag on its magazine front cover.

We will discuss issues surrounding mainstream media’s incorporation of social media into its programming.

Here are two links to the SI cover.

http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Sports_Illustrated_slammed_for_its_Jeremy_Lin_hash_10858.aspx#

http://deadspin.com/5885160/stop-the-silinsanity-great-moments-in-sports-illustrated-crapping-all-over-its-cover-with-a-twitter-hashtag/gallery/1

Non sport example from The Bachelor

http://socialmediatoday.com/your-social-move/464394/lessons-bachelor-how-successfully-use-hashtag

Topic 2:

The 2012 Olympic Games are soon to be held in London and the organising committee (LOCOG) has placed stringent restrictions on social media use for athletes and volunteers during the Games.

See the article in the Guardian Newspaper entitled: Olympics 2012: branding ‘police’ to protect sponsors’ exclusive rights. Fears stringent restrictions on use of terms such as London 2012 will limit economic benefits of Games to capital’s economy

http://m.guardian.co.uk/sport/2012/apr/13/olympics-2012-branding-police-sponsors?cat=sport&type=article

http://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/173610/the-social-olympics-the-effect-on-london-2012.html

We will chat about social media restrictions from a sport marketing perspective.

Thanks to Paul Kitchin from University of Ulster who tweeted this information. Follow him @paul_kitchin

Topic 3:

“Major League Soccer in the United States and Canada and the Hyundai A-League in Australia and New Zealand have remarkable similarities, with the exception that the A-League was birthed a decade after MLS. Due to these similarities, SBI invited me to provide my perspective on the A-League’s current “challenges” in context with MLS and its growth history.”

The A-League has had another negative story come to light recently as the Newcastle Jets ownership group handed back its team licence to the Football Federation of Australia.

Peter Wilt wrote an article in Sportbizinsider comparing the similarities of the histories between the MLS and the A-League.

http://sportbizinsider.com.au/features/analysis-mls-growth-v-a-league-dysfunction-by-chicago-fire-founding-gm-peter-wilt/

We will chat about the marketing of the A-League and the league’s issues from a sport marketing perspective.

Thanks to Sportbizinsiders who tweeted this information. Follow them @SportBizInsider

Topic 4:

This topic will discuss the marketing implications of pairing religion with sport and take a cross-cultural perspective.

First, the NBA’s Indiana Pacers hosted a “Faith and family night” (see http://www.pacersgroups.com/faith/).

Second, Patersons Stadium in Perth will build a “designated, non-denominational prayer room in the near future after a request from the AFL” (see http://www.smh.com.au/afl/afl-news/patersons-stadium-set-to-feature-a-prayer-room-20120419-1x9ga.html). Further, the new stadium that will be built in Perth and host AFL games will also have one.

The focus of the first chat aspect will be whether cultural differences could impact whether an Australian team could have a “Faith and family night” type of activity of whether some pockets of society would object to this.  The second aspect will discuss how marketing of a team could possibly be enhance through a message of inclusion.

Topic 5:

Charities and marketing of & through sport.

Recently, golfer Bubba Watson won the USA Master using a pink driver that attracted high levels of both fan and media interest. The driver manufacturer, Ping, recently announced it would sell 5000 copies of this club and donate part of the $420 cost to charity.

http://www.gorillagolfblog.com/players/bubba-watson-pink-ping-golf-equipment-2012-and-golf-facts/

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1139528-bubba-watson-pink-driver-selling-masters-driver-for-charity-is-great-idea

Ping has announced that it will donate $50 per club sold.

http://www.golfwrx.com/2012/04/10/ping-introduces-pink-g20-drivers/