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ESPN and the Changing Sports Media Landscape

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Edited By Greg G. Armfield, John McGuire and Adam Earnheardt

ESPN and the Changing Sports Media Landscape considers the ways the network is reinventing itself as it enters its fifth decade. In their previous book, The ESPN Effect (2015), the editors made the observation that ESPN was a pervasive branded-content provider across multiple media platforms, delivering programs and information 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to influence how sports fans think and feel about the people who play and control these games. ESPN and the Changing Sports Media Landscape asks whether that will hold true in the 2020s and beyond. The past decade has seen momentous changes in the sports media landscape, among them the massive proliferation of mobile platforms as a major source of sports content, astronomical growth in fantasy sport and esport industries, and the increasing entanglement of sports media in contentious sociopolitical debates. The contributors to this book analyze how ESPN has navigated the shifting playing field and speculate on what the next decade might bring for ESPN and the global sports media industry.

“Much like ESPN assembles the best talent for delivery of its flagship SportsCenter program, Greg G. Armfield, John McGuire, and Adam Earnheardt have gathered respected scholars from around the world to examine the most pressing issues in the sports media industry. Foremost among the issues explored in this book is how ESPN and other media empires adapt to try to reach an audience distracted by a seemingly endless list of entertainment choices. These scholars help readers better understand how ESPN continues to rise to meet the challenges of this ever-changing industry and what strategies to use to stay ahead of the game. With each chapter expertly crafted by top scholars and thought-leaders—including interviews with ESPN heavyweights like John Walsh, Paul Melvin, and Kevin Blackistone, and The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis—it’s easy to understand why this book will be one of this decades most influential collections of sports media studies. At 40 years old, ESPN has certainly grown into a sports media leader. Thanks to ESPN and the Changing Sports Media Landscape, we now have a guide for how ESPN might survive the next 40 years and how NBC, CBS, Fox, and others will continue to challenge the supremacy of the self-proclaimed ‘worldwide leader in sports.’” —James P. Tressel, President of Youngstown State University, College Football Hall of Fame inductee, and author of The Winners Manual: For the Game of Life