Although literature exists that profiles the effects of technology on sport, there has been little exploration into the specific effects of media technologies. This case study contributes to the existing literature on the convergence of technology and sport by examining which of five key media technologies will have the greatest impact upon the televised ice hockey product. The results demonstrate the importance of forecasting media technology in sport.
National Hockey League (NHL)
The relationship between sport and the media has received considerable attention both in academic literature and in management practice, leading to sports organisation interest in a variety of media technology applications. In Canada, ice hockey's stars are national heroes; its games are among the nation's most watched television programmes; and its important role in Canada's identity, society and culture is well documented. This makes Canadian ice hockey an ideal case to forecast future impacts of media technologies.
This case study involves a four-stage implementation. First, in conferring with experts, five major media technologies with the potential to impact upon the televised hockey product were identified. These were High Definition television (HDTV), interactive television (iTV), video on demand (VOD), personal video recorders (PVRs) and mobile multimedia devices (MMDs). Second, a comprehensive review of the National Hockey League (NHL) broadcasts in Canada was carried out in February 2004, revealing a very high rate of diffusion. Third, six in-depth expert interviews were carried out: three media technology experts and three sports management experts revealed HDTV to be the technology with the potential to affect televised ice hockey te most. They cited viewer- and production-centric factors as well as economic forces to support this view. Finally, this analysis is complemented by a Bass model forecast of future diffusion.
Results support that sports managers and marketers must understand both current and developing media technologies and continually forecast their potential impact on their sport. The use of forecasting tools and consultation with experts (in sport and media) are shown to be methods for achieving such understanding, and a six-stage model for using such methods for media technology decisions is articulated. For ice hockey, managers and marketers must support and plan for the diffusion of HDTV as a mass-market technology, since the case study reveals that it will provide greater benefit to the televised ice hockey product than other televised products.
The concept of bringing enhanced technology into sport is flush with optimism (Silk et al, 2000). With regard to media technology research, the realisation that sports marketing encompasses the duality of the sports industry (see Mullin et al, 2000; Shank, 2002) is important, as media technologies enable and enhance both the direct exchange of sports products to sports consumers (e.g. watching a game on HDTV) and the indirect marketing of non-sports products through sport (e.g. a beer company's corporate sponsorship of a professional sports franchise enhanced by iTV). Sports management researchers have devoted attention to technology's use in live situations (Siegel, 2000; Moore et al, 1999) and in the indirect marketing of non-sports products through sport (Moore et al, 1999; Mendez, 1999). Yet practitioners are also keen on learning how decisions can be made regarding the implementation of technology in the direct exchange of sport products. This decision is not easy for the following reasons:
1 revenues from new technologies may simply be cannibalising those from old or existing ones
2 senior management may view media as a secondary concern
3 forecasting consumer adoption is difficult when many overlapping variables must be considered (see Boyd & Mason, 1999)
4 adoption may be required from other stakeholders
5 data on which to base a decision may be difficult to acquire. …