Posted at May 23, 2020

The Impact of Broadcast on Sports

An old piece of mine,

The Impact of Broadcast on Sports

            People gather around the television every Sunday, or Monday, to watch their favorite football team battle it out. Or, soccer fans tune in to watch their favorite international team play in Spain. Either way, sports have an impact all over the world thanks to broadcast, whether that be radio or television.

Early on, sports did not attract that much of an audience, in fact, the first radio broadcast of the world series in 1921 only attracted a few hundred listeners. By 1922, radio in the United States had grown to 30 stations and the world series that year had 5 million listeners. This was huge for sports fans because they now had a way to have access to games without having to actually be in the stands. Most of these broadcasts consisted of play by plays and color commentary. It allowed the broadcasters to paint an image in the listeners head, allowing them to picture what it would be like if they were actually there.

On October 22, 1939, the U.S. televised its first professional football game. Despite this, the NFL still struggled. In the ‘30s and ‘40s, 50 football teams had to fold, and others moved from city to city. Football players in the early years of the NFL did not make enough money to sustain themselves and often had to have second jobs. The broadcasts just didn’t bring enough attention or ad revenue to afford to pay the players what they get paid now. It was also a hard time because new sports organizations were forming, and networks were being created. With the formation of all these things, sports were more accessible than ever. Moving through the latter half of the 1900’s, broadcast took off and changed the world of sports like no one could have imagined, specifically, providing accessibility.

Having the ability to access a sports team anywhere and anytime is something so unique to broadcast. This allows someone living in Washington to still root for their beloved New England Patriots… Radio especially gives people the most access to their teams. “Besides being able to listen to the radio at home, people can also listen at work, as they exercise, or as they drive in their cars,” (Covil, E.). As broadcast and sports established a stronger relationship, there became sports-only radio and television. Networks such as ESPN, NFL, RootSports and so much more.

With technology becoming more advanced, people are also now able to get these sport networks broadcasts on their phones. “For leagues and broadcasters, live streaming was typically an alternative platform to television during the game, allowing fans to view sport directly from their computer or tablet… Streaming apps also represent a new opportunity for leagues and teams to grow the popularity of their brand, providing another tool to engage with their fanbase,” (STATS LLC). These apps are just another way for people to access sport broadcasts because at this point, broadcasts can be found on any platform. People are way more likely to tune into a broadcast when it’s that easy to access.

Another way of looking at accessibility that broadcast has provided is that it allows fans to develop a relationship with the athletes and broadcasters. A loyal fan is something organizations want to keep close. Fans provide loyalty, a support system and revenue for many teams, so it is important that these teams, keep their fans in mind. “Fans could move away from their favorite team’s market and still have access to televised games… Producers in the ‘60s showed that catering to television fans could be a huge boon for networks and provide certified cultural phenomena,” (Collins, E.).  Broadcast has given fans a way to stay up-to-date and supportive of their favorite teams even if they don’t live in the same state. The media also highlights certain players which allows viewers to get to know the athletes and make them feel like they are creating a relationship with the athlete.

Nothing has impacted sports more than broadcast; the two go hand-in-hand. Without broadcast, the sports industry would be small and almost unheard of. Sports needed accessibility to connect with people, and that is exactly what broadcast did. It doesn’t matter if someone is on a time difference or overseas because with the technology of broadcast, they are able to access what they want, whenever they want. Accessibility is what sports needed, and broadcast gave that to them. Being able to reach an audience via radio or television is one of the most influential changes the sports world has gone through.

Works Cited


Covil, Eric C., “Radio and its Impact on the Sports World.” American Sportscasters Online. Retrieved from

STATS LLC, “Impact of Live Streaming on Sports Broadcasts,” Stats. 2015. Retrieved from





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