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The relationship between the consumption of sport via media and its more active counterpart, attendance, remains ambiguous. Some researchers have observed a symbiotic relationship at work—each behavior fueling the other, whereas others see no connection or argue that media use competes with live attendance as a recreational substitute. The current study of baseball game spectators (n = 308) employed a dual-route framework (DRF) to describe symbiotic and substitution behaviors. High/low mixes of media use and attendance were used to identify four distinct modes of intake (heavy, light, and media- and event-dominant). Follow-up comparisons distinguished each mode with discrete levels of involvement, satisfaction, and spectator attraction. The results expose the limits of previous models of spectator behavior and encourage us to broaden our understandings of consumption frequency beyond attendance alone. The DRF modes suggest that plotting media use in conjunction with attendance offers a more accurate account of spectator involvement. If models like the escalator dissected the data, they would consider the light and media-dominant and the heavy and event-dominant modes as equivalent. The importance of media-dominant consumption and the strategic implications of these segments are discussed.
Pritchard is currently with the College of Business, Central Washington University, Ellensburg WA 98926-7485, and Funk is with the Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Queensland 9726, Australia.