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The amount of time dedicated to sports coverage in local news has decreased substantially in recent years. In fact, some networks have eliminated traditional sports segments or outsourced them to national organizations. The now defunct Sinclair Broadcast Group’s SportsCentral represented a cost-efficient way to produce local sports segments in multiple media markets, and this study sought to understand how SportsCentral broadcasts compared with traditional broadcasts in 3 markets. An analysis of SportsCentral segments over a 17-month period in the Birmingham, AL; Oklahoma City; and Tampa–St. Petersburg markets showed that traditional sportscasts provided more local sports coverage than shows airing SportsCentral. While relying more heavily on satellite-generated content, sportscasts using SportsCentral had a wider variety of stories and aired more sports feature stories and franchises than the traditional sportscast. However, local newscasts found ways to integrate sports coverage into the news broadcast to cover late-breaking or important local stories.
The authors are with the College of Communication and Information Sciences, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487. Mills is a doctoral candidate, and Daniels is his advisor.