Can Visual Complexity Impede Impact Appreciation of Mediated Sports? Team Identification and Viewer Response to a Complex Presentation of College Football

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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Sport telecasts are frequently the showcase and testing ground for innovative broadcast technologies. One particularly novel example is ESPN’s coverage of college athletics via its multiscreen, or mosaic, format. This experiment tested the impact of its visual complexity by comparing the response of fans high and low in team identification to this format versus a traditional presentation of dull and exciting game play. For highly identified spectators, this format was a detriment to their appreciation of game play, whereas the format had little impact for viewers with low levels of team identification. Moreover, independent of degree of team identification, viewers reported a more negative evaluation of this technique than of a traditional broadcast, and results were consistent regardless of the dull or exciting nature of game play.

Cummins is with the College of Mass Communications, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX. Youngblood and Milford are with the Dept. of Communication and Journalism, Auburn University, Auburn, AL.

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