In relation to sports marketing, media organizations have emerged as assuming a critical role. The media is active in the marketing of sports, as they provide the various communication vehicles through which sports games are seen, read about, and heard (Thorne, Wright & Jones, 2001). Media companies traditionally have included television, newspaper, and radio (Thorne et al., 2001). According to Thorne et al., media rights, especially through television, have �symbiotic� or closely knit relationships with sport, with sports aiding in building the media while media exposure aids in further building and establishing an audience for the sports industry. Consequently, as noted by the authors, as efforts are made by the media and the sports industry to enhance the numbers of viewers, readers, and listeners, stronger advertising revenue for the media firm are generated. As a result of this relationship, owners of media companies have increasingly acquired professional teams, leading to further complexity in the relationships that can exist between sports and the media. As further explained by Thorne et al., media interests often clash with those of teams and leagues under the Sports Broadcasting Act (1992, 15 U.S.C. 1291-95), which granted an antitrust exemption for broadcast rights to leagues, though teams’ sale of broadcast rights is subject to antitrust review.
According to Kotler, Rein and Shields (2007), the direction of future trends in sports marketing are evidenced in a number of areas. Increasingly, the owner’s of sport properties form their own media company, providing a means for those in sports marketing to interact directly with consumers without the filter of traditional media (Kotler et al., 2007). An example of this trend offered by Kotler et al. is that of the National Football League (NFL), with most television networks recognizing the NFL as a competitive asset for its’ value in high ratings and promotional lead-in to other programming. As noted by Kotler et al., the NFL has begun building its own television channel which competed against ESPN with its own NFL draft show and broadcast eight regular season games during the 2006 season. Additionally, as pointed out by the authors, the NFL is investing its own media brand rather than selling its Thursday and Saturday night television package to other networks. Consequently, the NFL network is rapidly developing into a backup source for whenever other networks fail to pay the right fees for NFL programming.
Additionally, as identified by Kotler et al. (2007), the Internet has emerged as another major sports marketing venue. Using the example of the Major League Baseball’s (MLB) use of the Internet for providing streaming live video of baseball games throughout the season, Kotler et al. indicated that such business endeavors have created another means for generating additional substantial income for the league. According to Kotler et al, the Internet has provided the MLB with a further profitable means of defining and marketing itself as well as its’ teams through broadcast sports
As concluded by the authors, the MLB has provided a benchmark that can be used by other sports identities for integrating new technology into marketing strategies for the purpose of meeting the changing needs and expectations of fans.