Sports versus All Comers: Comparing TV Sports Fans with Fans of Other Programming Genres

By Gantz, Walter; Wang, Zheng et al. | Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, March 2006 | Go to article overview

Sports versus All Comers: Comparing TV Sports Fans with Fans of Other Programming Genres


Gantz, Walter, Wang, Zheng, Paul, Bryant, Potter, Robert F., Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media


Sports has been a programming staple on broadcast and cable television for decades. It regularly attracts the faithful and, with major events, draws audiences that other genres of programming rarely approach. Year in and year out, the Super Bowl garners the largest U.S. audience of the year, far outpacing any other single program. The Olympics and the World Cup draw unrivaled numbers of viewers across the globe, several billion over the course of the Olympics and perhaps as much as a billion for a single World Cup match (Bryant & Raney, 2000; Real, 1998). Because of its ubiquity on the television dial, the scope of the audience it attracts, and the apparent zeal with which many viewers watch sports, televised sports viewers and fans have been the subject of considerable scholarly inquiry.

With less frequent public recognition and scholarly scrutiny, other genres of programming attract and cultivate sizable audiences and, as with sports, a sizable number of fans. For example, prior to its final original episode in 2003, the television situation comedy Friends regularly drew viewers "still dying to know who [Rachel] ends up with--Ross or Joey?" when a decade had passed "after [the character] stumbled into the Central Perk coffeehouse after running away from her own wedding" (Peyser, 2003, p. 46). To be sure, there are other parallels as well. For example, stars of wildly popular shows such as Friends receive salaries that rival the biggest sports stars.

Fans represent an important segment of television audiences that programmers cultivate across genres, from sports to soap operas, situation comedies and dramas to adult-oriented animated programs, and from reality shows to afternoon and evening talkfests. At a minimum, fans represent a steady base of viewers that programmers and sales personnel collectively describe and package to advertisers and ad agencies. At times, fans are openly promoted and celebrated. For this, all one has to see is ESPN's self-congratulatory 25th anniversary campaign titled "The Season of the Fan" (Janoff, 2004), with on-air promotions "celebrating 25 years in sports with a salute to the fans."

Although scholars have examined fans for sports, soap operas, and reality programs separately, they have not looked for commonalities in fanship across programming genres. Do fans prepare for their programs in similar ways? Are they motivated by similar or disparate sets of motivations? Do they view and respond in similar ways, or is viewing and response unique to each type of program? In short, scholars have not examined the extent to which the fanship experience cuts across genres. This study was designed to make that comparison.

Fanship

The term fan is routinely linked with those who follow sports. For example, the first meaning for the term provided by the Oxford English Dictionary (1996) states that a fan is "a keen and regular spectator of a (professional) sport, originally of baseball." Yet, the term, derived from fanatic, can and has been applied to those with a particular interest in performers, personalities, and programs, as well as athletes and sports teams. Along with athletes, celebrities have Iong had fan clubs and fan magazines and have been the recipients of fan mail.

At a minimum, fanship points to an active and interested audience. In all likelihood, fanship represents an array of thought processes, affective attachments, and behaviors that separate fans from nonfans, including nonfans who watch the same programming. Abercrombie and Longhurst (1998) noted that fans are "those people who become particularly attached to certain programmes or stars within the context of a relatively heavy media use" (p. 138). Others have linked fanship with knowledge about the players, teams, and game or characters and plot in a program; active, participatory, viewing; concern about outcomes; and emotional responsiveness to the action and activity as it unfolds (e. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Sports versus All Comers: Comparing TV Sports Fans with Fans of Other Programming Genres
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.