Media Economics & Sports

Media Economics & Sports

Within the economic structure of American society, the relationship between sports, corporate America, and the media is interdependent to such a degree that one cannot discuss one without mentioning the others. With partners like Disney, ABC, and ESPN sharing the same bed sports has become a massive form of product marketing for corporate America, one with lucrative economic rewards for sports team owners, players, the media, and corporate America.

The economic system involving sports, corporate America, and the media is an interdependent one. Athletes make huge sums of money paid to them by owners who make even larger sums of money. Agents, free agency, and other phenomena keep athlete salaries rising. So, too, does increased ticket sales to games, increased TV viewership, enormous media contracts, TV advertising, and corporate sponsorship and endorsement deals. The economic rewards in the sports industry are so enormous that corporate America, the media, and sports franchises are driven to earn a larger slice of the profit pie. Mergers and acquisitions, alliances, cross-promotion, enormous advertising expenditures, staggering media contracts, and a host of other phenomena are used as a means of retaining competitive advantage among teams, among corporations, and among media and advertising players. This analysis will explore some of these phenomena in the National Football League (NFL), the richest media prize in sports, in order to demonstrate the economic interdependency of sports, the media, and corporate America in modern society.

The relationship between the media, corporate America, and sports in the past decade has not only generated billion-dollar revenues, but it has reshaped football and the NFL in doing so. In 1990, the NFL shocked industry analysts when it inked a $3.6 billion media contract split between five broadcast and cable networks (Zoglin 1). Soon after this deal was announced, the NFL announced it …

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