The sporting industry is one of the fastest developing industries in the world. According to Kaser and Oelkers (2008), sports have been considered as entertainment other than investment. Sports have been in existence since time immemorial. This scholar holds that sporting events were organized to entertain the public and to be enjoyed by the players. The industry had a strong organization, but not in a way that earned income either to the organizers or the players themselves.
This has, however, changed in the past few decades. The sporting industry has become one of the most lucrative industries in the world. Players in different sports have become some of the richest individuals in the world. Sports form one of the fastest developing careers in various countries in the world. There are various sports, including football, tennis, hockey, volleyball, athletics, baseball, netball, golfing, and rallies, among other sports.
Web and the internet have had a massive impact on the sporting industry. The world has been experiencing changes brought about by emerging technologies. One of the main changes that have been witnessed among the emerging technologies is the emergence of the internet and the World Wide Web. This has had a massive impact on various industries, including the sporting industry. As Woods (2011) says, the internet has helped in reducing the geographical barrier that had existed before. It has eased the communication process and this has made it easy for club owners, players, fans and many other stakeholders. All these stakeholders have gotten a forum, thanks to the internet, through which they can easily communicate and share views concerning the industry.
According to Johnson (2003), the revolution on the internet was not considered as of any importance to the sporting industry. As many other industries rushed to embrace technological advancements brought about by the internet, players in the sporting industry never gave technology any importance as it was then difficult to relate the internet and sports. This has, however, changed as time went by.
These players came to realize that the internet and World Wide Web could no longer be ignored in this industry. It was obvious that the internet was becoming part of the decision-making process, and that it is a tool that is vital in managing the industry. Upon this realization, the industry came to embrace this technology, and it has had a massive impact on it. The development of the web and the internet has impacted greatly on the global finances in this industry. The focus of this research is on the impact of the World Wide Web and the internet on the sporting industry.
Relevance of the Internet on Sporting Industry
The sporting industry has experienced massive development over the past years. According to Kaser and Oelkers (2008), the sporting industry has attracted the attention of many investors around the world. The industry has become developed, and currently, these investors have come to appreciate the fact that the internet is of importance to the industry players. Internet is one of the biggest channels of communication. It has eased communication, especially among the youth. Sports have their largest target group as the youth. Football, which is the most popular sport in the world, has the majority of the fanatics being the youth.
The internet comes in as an appropriate tool through which clubs can reach out to their target audience. Many football clubs have well-developed websites through which they can communicate with their fans. On the websites, these firms can reach out to their target audience, and the general public, with important information they feel, is relevant. The internet has also provided a forum through which these fanatics can communicate amongst themselves. As Woods (2011) notes, this has been very healthy in developing a community of fanatics (customers) who can be called upon to conduct various duties within the firm. This scholar says that having such a strong community helps such a club when in need. Mobilizing such a community to act in a way that can be beneficial to the club is much easier.
With the increasing relevance of the internet in modern society, various stakeholders are finding it easier to use social media in sports management. Social media has become very relevant in reaching out to fans that are miles away. YouTube has been relevant in sporting events. Fans can record various sporting activities and share them with friends who might have not had the opportunity to watch the game live. This is very common in the world of wrestling entertainment.
Social media and the internet has been very important to some of these sports. In some instances, the viewers are supposed to pay for the games as they watch. Pay per view is very common in such sporting events. In such cases, viewers are supposed to pay for the games before they can start viewing them. This means that these clubs have the opportunity to earn some extra income from the internet. The internet offers an opportunity for those who did attend the games at the venue, to watch and pay for the same game irrespective of their location around the world. To create an understanding of the relevance of social media in the sporting industry, it is important to understand social media.
Social Media and Sporting Industry
The term social media was broken down into two parts, social and media by Johnson (2003). It is stated that the first term, social, meant that human beings need to get in contact with other human beings. The second term, media, are the tools that human beings use to get in contact with other human beings. Hence, as a whole social media means, the use of all technologies effectively to create a bond between human beings to satisfy basic social needs such as creating a connection and relationship between them. As a part of social media, there is a term called social network sites and is defined by Woods (2011) as follows, “social network sites as web-based services that allow individuals to
- construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system,
- articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and
- view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.
The nature and nomenclature of these connections may vary from site to site.” There are many social network sites currently such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, among others. According to Johnson (2003), there were many social network sites as well before these social network sites emerged including Six Degrees, Live Journal, MiGente among others. The report by Johnson (2003) clearly shows the importance of social networking sites to the sporting industry. According to Woods (2011) internet in the sporting industry is relatively new. The same authors stated that the social media that we know was shaped after the invention of MySpace and Facebook.
As the definition suggests, the backbone of the system is the same for all network sites. However, aim and nomenclature could make a difference. According to Johnson (2003), the main similarity of social communities is that they are social. Moreover, Johnson (2003) stated, “They thrive when the members participate, discuss, share, and interact with others as well as recruit new members to the community.” Kaser and Oelkers (2008) noted that a very basic feature that all social network sites have is, a “unique profile page” where people construct themselves in an online environment.
The necessary information is age, location, sex, interest and a section to add extra points to explain more about them (Masteralexis, Barr & Hums, 2012). For example, on Facebook people type additional info in the “about me” section and on Twitter people type their additional info in the “bio” section which appears on their profile page. This means that the site not only makes a club understand the bio-information of their fans but also their likes and dislikes. This makes it easy to develop means through which the firm can consolidate its fan base, and increase avenues of income generation.
The next step that Johnson (2003) explained is having a connection in these sites which refers to “friends” most of the time. However, people do not have to be friends necessarily, the term “friends” refers to any connections even those people had only met and have nothing beyond (Masteralexis, Barr & Hums, 2012). For instance, on Facebook these connections are called “Friends”, on Twitter, it is “Followers” and on LinkedIn, it is “Connections”.
According to Woods (2011), there are 15 social media categories including social networking, publishing, photo sharing, audio sharing, video sharing, micro-blogging, live-casting, virtual worlds, gaming, productivity applications, aggregators, search, mobile and interpersonal. This is very important in the sporting industry. Having such a network of communication means that it is now easy to reach out to various stakeholders, which helps clubs develop. Every sub social networking is for a different purpose. For example, through YouTube; people can share, promote and comment on video clips, through Decision Virginia; people can discuss sporting issues, through Facebook; people can share their life events with others including photos, video posts and comments.
Social Media’s Relationship with Marketing in the Sporting Industry
According to Woods (2011), marketing is, “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” As it was explained in the above analysis, dialogue happens between 2 or more people and to have successful dialogue people should share the same targets. Marketing’s very main objective is to create and increase the value by exceeding customer expectations, however communicating and delivering play a key role in this process. As there is a misunderstanding between parties, brand image will be misleading as well.
As it was noted in the previous discussion on Social Media, people started to use several abstract, web based social environments. They started to share memories, life experiences by posting photos, videos and texts. They also started to share their thoughts and views as regards their popular sports, and how they feel their favourite clubs should adjust strategies to achieve the best results. Marketing to such a group is very easy because they already have a strong attachment to the club.
The social sites and the websites will suffice in reaching out to the fans. This has seen a rise in a society where important information can be shared easily with various stakeholders through the internet. As a result of this, a new era on the Internet started and people are not only using the internet for sharing personal issues, but also the issues that concern their preferred teams or clubs.
Some contemporary scholars have argued that social media alone can sustain all the marketing needs. They believe that social media has completely taken over the role of the mass media and other forms of communication.
However, marketing experts have held that companies should not focus purely on social media as people assume that everybody was involved in social media. Kaser and Oelkers (2008) noted this matter under the heading Myth 1 and stated that although 80 per cent of the people heard about social media, everyone is not involved in it. Johnson (2003) noted that currently the situation is rapidly changing and it is a common decision that many people use social media however, now there is a discussion that only young people use social media. Some scholars have stated that this belief is wrong and 50 per cent of the users of Facebook are older than 35 and Woods (2011) noted that the fastest-growing age range in terms of membership age is the 55 – 65 years old range.
According to Johnson (2003), social media websites such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, MySpace and others have grown and still growing sharply and at the same time adoption of the organisations and people is incredible. This has affected the way leadership of various sporting events relate to their fanatics. Here are some facts about social media stated by Woods (2011).
- Social media accelerated the speed of communication which substituted word of mouth the word of mouth.
- People are not searching for products anymore; products find people via social media websites.
- The number of people who watch their favourite sports through social media is on the rise, and some of them have to pay to get to view such games.
- Reaching 50 million members:
- Radio: 38 years
- Television: 13 years
- Internet: 4 years
- iPod: 3 years
- Facebook added more than 100 million users in less than a year.
These facts show that social media is rising very rapidly and as it is huge, it became a great source to execute marketing plans in various industries, including the sporting industry. Although everyone is not involved in it, it is obvious that there is a great potential and many of the industry players have realized this and are trying to maximize the benefits it brings (Woods, 2011). On the other hand, social media provides great communication tools as the main purpose is interaction and interaction necessitates two-way communication.
Kaser and Oelkers (2008) noted that in today’s world, executing marketing strategies in social media is more effective than conventional methods as it is possible to create pure two-way symmetrical communication strategies. This would mean that many firms are currently maximizing their profits through the use of social media.
Woods (2011) noted that companies should be careful about five points when they decided on applying marketing strategies through social media. First, companies should carefully choose the social media tool which suits best with their target. For example, if a company want to attract book lovers it would be useless to advertise in virtual world games such as World of Warcraft.
Rather than that company should go with a community social website where people share their ideas about novels. Second, to be efficient, rather than creating a new platform, companies should pick the right application. Third, companies should ensure that their activities are consistent. Thus, the company could launch its marketing strategy on more than one social networking site. However, all these must be consistent. Forth, consistency is the first step to provide integration between projects. To create a stable brand image, projects launched in different social media tools must be integrated. Finally, it should be easy to access. Moreover, Kaplan and Kaser and Oelkers (2008) argued that to satisfy these five points, companies should be active, interesting, modest and honest at all times.
The Financial Impact of the Web and Internet on the Sporting Industry
Inventions and innovations are always costly ventures. The ultimate aim of such ventures is to bring financial benefit to firms in the long run. The web and the internet have had a massive financial impact on the sporting industry. As was mentioned above, the internet has provided a forum where international sports clubs can reach a higher number of their clients irrespective of their physical location.
The financial impact of the web and the internet can best be analyzed by looking at cases of individual sporting companies. According to Masteralexis, Barr and Hums (2012), the web and the internet have helped many sporting events be more popular around the world. With the increasing number of people who have access to the internet, the stakeholders in various sporting activities are considering advertising sports just like any other product sold in the market, and as this scholar notes, the result has been impressive. Many of these scholars have come to appreciate the fact that the financial impact of the web and the internet has been impressive.
However, Masteralexis, Barr and Hums (2012) warn that the web and the internet may not be an automatic way for a firm to have increased income. At times some firms experience a downward trend in their financial status after adopting the web and the internet into their system. The following financial statements for World Wrestling Entertainment demonstrate that the web and the internet can also cause financial woes other than benefits.
|Income Statement for WWE|
|View: Annual Data||All numbers in thousands|
|Cash Flow for WWE|
|View: Annual Data||All numbers in thousands|
Balance Sheet for WWE
|View: Annual Data||All numbers in thousands|
The three documents are very consistent in showing the downward trend of the financial position of the World Wrestling Entertainment over the last three years despite its heavy reliance on the internet since then. It is a clear demonstration that the internet may not work magic by bringing increased income. Other facets must also be considered.
Johnson, C. (2003). Using Internet primary sources to teach critical thinking skills in the sciences. Westport, Conn.
Kaser, K., & Oelkers, D. B. (2008). Sports and entertainment marketing. Mason: Thomson South-Western.
Masteralexis, L. P., Barr, C. A., & Hums, M. A. (2012). Principles and practice of sport management. Sudbury: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
Woods, R. (2011). Social issues in sport. Champaign: Human Kinetics.