Tuesday, November 24, 2009

European Sports Media

“Sports absolutely overpowers film and everything else in the entertainment genre,” Rupert Murdoch.

Since the 20th century arrival of television, sports have become a media event giving viewers at home the visual experience of the stadium or better. Sports have also been combined with advertising and sponsorship to build the industry. Global sports events like the World Cup combine sports with tourism.

According to Papathanassopoulos, “Television has replaced ticket sales as the prime source of finance for professional sport.” Eurosport dominates the transnational market by giving coverage in 12 languages. The UK is largest by audience in the European market with Sky News leading. Scandinavia has had the weakest market.

Sports are the strongest force in pay/on demand tv. The dominance of PPV caused the EU to get involved in 1997. They established “directives” to guarantee all citizens to access “great common experiences.” However the countries created different laws with Demark creating more accessiblilty.PPV pricing is determined by cost of the actual tickets. PPV offers replays and different angels you cannot get at the real game. Some teams are forming alliances with networks. Websites are increasing in relevance, 1 billion hits on the World Cup website.

Jean Baudrillard, The Racing Driver and His Double, Screened Out, 2002

Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) originally studied German then Sociology, eventually teaching at Paris IX Dauphine. He is best known for attacking the “technological event.He proposed the simulacra, essentially the media representation of the real. His constant random referencing without footnotes is considered postmodern. Some people criticize him as an aggressor rather than academic: Baudrillard's hyperprose demands only that you grunt wide-eyed or bewildered assent.

Formula 1
Began in 1950
Racing at high speeds, up to 360 km/h (220 mph)
Called “the world’s most expensive sport” with the most sponsored drivers
Formula 1 is a massive television event, with a global audience of 600 million people per season
Includes a circuit of 17 separate Euro-Asian races with the Monaco Grand Prix being the most prestigious from 1929

FIA characterized the Monaco Grand Prix as contributing "an exceptional location of glamour and prestige" to motor sport. It is also unique because it uses the actual streets of Monte Carlo.

Baudrillard's article describes technology & man, the alliance of the two reconciled by speed. The third player is the sponsors, mainly the car companies Ferrari, Renault, Brawn, Maclaren and Porsche. BMW has only been on the scene since 2000 which was a strategic effort.

Baudrillard described Formula 1 as
Part of an era of performance
An excessive expenditure, a spectacular sacrifice
Efforts of thousands culminate in a single dazzling moment
Where is the pleasure of driving? At 180 mph there is calm
The driver is the operator of crowd passions

The impact of Formula One lies then in the exceptional and mythic character of the event of the race and the figure of the driver…it is not clear why speed would be both severely limited and morally condemned in the public domain and celebrated in Formula One…a fundamental illusion for all, and one that justifies all the excesses” p. 169

“If Formula 1 is a spectacle, a collective passionate (though perfectly artificial) event, embracing the multiple screens of technological research, the living prosthesis of the driver, and the television screens into which the viewers project themselves, then it certainly has a very fine future….Such a concentration of technology, money, ambition, prestige is a monster (as is the world of haute couture…as far removed from real clothing as Formula 1 from road traffic.)” p. 170

The fascination with speed is not limited to Formula 1. The Isle of Man is a notable UK motorbike race and Le Tour de France is another global sports media event the emphasizes speed.

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