The rising popularity of Twitter and the concurrent decline in audience size for local television sportscasts has fueled concern that the new medium is displacing traditional broadcasters. A model is offered that identifies the salient latent constructs that make Twitter a more attractive medium for connected fans in ways that transcend Twitter’s obvious advantage in timeliness. Issues relating to Twitter’s brevity, the public–private blending of athletes, parasocial interaction between users and who they follow, community building, homophily, and self-presentation are all addressed. The model offers propositions that can be tested by future research and provides guidance to broadcasters willing to adapt to what Twitter offers. Understanding why Twitter engages sports fans in a manner unlike that of previous technologies offers application for sports broadcasters trying to maintain audience share, as well as guidance for researchers seeking to explain the allure of the 140-character medium.
Hull, a doctoral student, and Lewis, his professor, are with the College of Journalism and Communications, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.