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Although scholars have examined numerous facets of broadcast sports, limited research has explored the use of statistics in these broadcasts. Reference to statistical summaries of athlete or team performance have long been a component of sport broadcasts, and for some viewers the rise of fantasy sport has led to even greater interest in quantitative measures of athlete or team performance. To examine the presence and nature of statistical references in sport broadcasts, this study examines National Football League telecasts over time to identify changes in the frequency, type, and presentation form of statistics. Findings revealed an emphasis on individual player statistics over team statistics, as well as an increase in on-screen graphics over time. The study also revealed a simultaneous decrease in statistical references relayed orally by broadcasters. These findings illustrate the importance of statistics as a storytelling tool, as well as reflecting technological innovations in sports broadcasting. In addition, they suggest a possible evolution in audience consumption habits and desires.
Hahn is with the Dept. of Film, Television and Digital Media, Bob Schieffer College of Communication, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX. VanDyke is with the Dept. of Advertising and Public Relations, College of Communication and Information Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL. Cummins is with the Dept. of Journalism and Creative Media Industries, College of Media and Communication, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX.