Broadcast Television and the Game of Packaging Sports

Authored by: David B. Sullivan

Handbook of Sports and Media

Print publication date:  April  2006
Online publication date:  March  2009

Print ISBN: 9780805851885
eBook ISBN: 9780203873670
Adobe ISBN: 9781135257347


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Coverage of sports has enjoyed a privileged place among types of television programming since the inception of broadcast TV in the United States. The unpredictable and inherently conflict-oriented nature of sports contests provides television with immediate, unscripted dramatic events—content that is perfectly suited to the medium and to broadcasting's commercial interests. In this sense, broadcast sport is the original reality television programming. Few other broadcast genres amplify real-world events while bringing audiences so intimately close to live action, and none does so with the regularity of televised sports. These characteristics account, in part, for sports' enduring popularity among viewers and broadcasters, and they perhaps have contributed to attracting the interest of academics of various stripes. Broadcast television sports have generated an extensive body of scholarly attention that is differentiated widely by discipline, method, and theoretical focus.

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