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Brody J. Ruihley, Jason Simmons, Andrew C. Billings, and Rich Calabrese

On the first Sunday of the National Football League’s 2016–17 season, a technical issue caused ESPN’s fantasy-football website and mobile application to fail. ESPN’s product failure is no small problem and represented a major organizational crisis; with 7.1 million unique users, ESPN represents the largest provider of a multi-billion-dollar fantasy-sport industry. This case study examined ESPN’s organizational communication strategy, as well as the stakeholder responses surrounding the failure of ESPN’s fantasy-football website and application on the most anticipated day of the fantasy-sport season. Using content analysis and partnering with a social media data insights company, the study examined social media messages from both the organizational and consumer side of this fantasy-sport product failure. Through ampling 1,542 social media messages from a population of 11,881 unique comments via Twitter, the reactive nature of ESPN’s messages and the direct responses from its consumers was ascertained.

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Xavier Ramon, Andrew C. Billings, and José Luis Rojas-Torrijos

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Natalie A. Brown, Michael B. Devlin, and Andrew C. Billings

This study explores the implications of the sports communication theory of fan identification and the divisions often developed between identifying with a single athlete and the bonds developed for a sport as a whole. Using the fastest growing North American sport, mixed martial arts (MMA)—more specifically, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC)—differences in levels of fan identification were examined in relationship to attitudes toward individual athletes and attitudes toward the UFC organization. An online survey of 911 respondents produced a highly representative sample of the UFC’s current audience demographics. Results showed significant differences in fan identify between gender, age, and sensationseeking behaviors, suggesting that distinct demographic variables may influence the role that fan identity has not only in sports media consumption but also in future event consumption. Implications and ramifications for future theoretical sports communication research and sports marketing are postulated.

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Kenon A. Brown, Simon Ličen, Andrew C. Billings, and Michael B. Devlin

Given Slovenia’s independence in 1991, examining the potential impact of Olympic media consumption on this young nation offers a unique opportunity for scholarly investigation. Prior examinations of Olympic telecasts in Slovenia have uncovered core elements of nationalized pride and focus (Ličen & Billings, 2013a), yet have not fully explored the potential effect of the mass viewership found within the Olympics. This study explores how social cognitive and social identification theories interact to influence consumption behaviors relating to international competition—in this case, the Olympics. For this study, 175 respondents were surveyed to examine the relationship among personal determinants defined by one’s national identity, Olympic fan involvement, and behaviors related to Olympic media consumption. Findings revealed that basic identification with Slovenia as a nation, and a need to defend Slovenia when faced with discouraging opinions, influenced one’s fan involvement with the Olympics, which in turn influenced digital and televisual media consumption.

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Michael B. Devlin, Kenon A. Brown, Natalie Brown-Devlin, and Andrew C. Billings

Nationalistic notions are embedded within every part of the Olympic Games, inculcating feelings pertaining to one’s nation. Previous research examined the degree to which one is affected by portrayals of nationalism during international sporting events, finding that media consumption and results increase nationalistic feelings. However, such analyses rarely infused overarching fandom into the equation and failed to make global comparisons. This study surveyed 2,245 people from three continents in six different nations (Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Sweden, and the United States) to examine nationalistic attitudes during the 2018 Winter Olympics and subsequent effects. Significant differences between nationalized qualities manifested between each continent, as did their paths to becoming a fan and consuming content.

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Paul J. MacArthur, James R. Angelini, Andrew C. Billings, and Lauren R. Smith

An empirical analysis was conducted focusing on how the United States-based NBC and the Canada-based CBC portrayed male figure skaters in comparison with their male Winter Olympic counterparts on the networks’ primetime 2014 Olympic broadcasts. Using 100% of all primetime broadcast content as a universe of investigation, NBC’s and the CBC’s commentary about male figure skaters was compared with the aggregate of all other male Winter Olympians in the areas of success, failure and personality/physicality. Analysis of NBC’s primetime coverage of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games revealed five (5) significantly-different dialogue trends between male figure skaters and the aggregate of other male Winter Olympians, while analysis of the CBC’s primetime coverage revealed seven (7) significantly-different dialogue trends between male figure skaters and the aggregate of other male Winter Olympians. Differences were not consistent from network to network, showing that NBC and CBC treated male figure skaters differently, yet in significantly different manners by network. Insights are offered on the theoretical and applied levels.

Une analyse empirique a été conduite pour savoir comment la chaîne américaine NBC et la chaîne canadienne CBC présentaient les patineurs sur glace par rapport à leurs homologues masculins participant aux Jeux Olympiques d’Hiver lors de leurs prime times en 2014. En utilisant 100% du contenu des prime times diffusés comme terrain d’investigation, les commentaires de NBC et de CBC concernant les patineurs sur glace ont été comparés à ceux, agrégés, de tous les autres olympiens masculins dans le domaine de la réussite, de l’échec, de la personnalité et du physique. L’analyse de la couverture des Jeux Olympiques 2014 de Sotchi en prime time sur NBC a révélé cinq types de discours significativement différents entre les patineurs et l’ensemble des autres olympiens alors que l’analyse de la couverture en prime time du CBC en a révélé sept. Les différences ne sont pas similaires d’une chaîne à l’autre, ce qui montre que NBC et CBC ont traité les patineurs sur glace différemment. Des éclairages sont apportés aux niveaux théoriques et appliqués.

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Melvin Lewis, Kenon A. Brown, Samuel D. Hakim, Andrew C. Billings, and Carla H. Blakey

A national sample of 390 self-identified National Basketball Association (NBA) fans were asked motivational differences regarding use of four unique forms of social media information offerings: team-managed, media-managed, fan-managed and player-managed outlets. While entertainment emerged as the top motivational factor across all four offerings, many significant differences were found among the four information offerings in relation to 12 key uses and gratifications. Revealing which information offerings users tend to use when attempting to fulfill a specific gratification, this study yields insights for academicians and sport practitioners, pinpointing distinctive features of different social media platforms to frame social media goals, as well as matching the perceived strengths and features of a particular platform and information offering.