We love sports. We get all wrapped up in the players on the field, or the court, or the ring, and we totally forget about the thousands of people who work behind the scenes to make our most exciting and treasured sports moments a reality.
See also: East Coast bias Broadcasting of sports started with descriptions of play sent via telegraph in the s. In , a telegraph line was connected to the Victoria Rink in Montreal to update fans in Winnipeg of the Stanley Cup challenge series between Montreal and Winnipeg ice hockey teams.
In , the first radio broadcast of an ice hockey game took place on 8 February, with the broadcast of the third period of a game between Midland and North Toronto of the Ontario Hockey Association.
That same season, hockey broadcasting pioneer Foster Hewitt made his first broadcast. Always starting the broadcast with "Hello, Canada, and hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland! Today it is consistently among the highest-rated programs in Canada.
American sports broadcasts are widely available in Canada, both from Canadian stations and from border blasters in the United States. In order to protect Canadian broadcasters' advertising, broadcast stations can invoke simultaneous substitution : any cable or satellite feed of an American station broadcasting the same program as a Canadian broadcast station must be blacked out and replaced by the Canadian feed.
This rule is part of the reason the NFL, which is broadcast on terrestrial television in the United States but has no direct presence in Canada, is also broadcast on terrestrial TV in Canada, while the CFL no longer is the CFL is broadcast only on cable in the United States ; the simultaneous substitution benefits are not extended to cable stations.
For the purposes of regional sports broadcasting , the Toronto Blue Jays and Toronto Raptors both claim all of Canada as their "territory," allowing Blue Jays and Raptors games to be broadcast nationwide. This game is credited with being the first mainly because the BBC was prevented from broadcasting sporting events before 7.
Two weeks later the first broadcast of a football match took place, with the BBC covering Arsenal's league fixture against Sheffield United at Highbury. Listeners to the broadcast could use numbered grids published in the Radio Times in order to ascertain in which area of the pitch denoted as "squares" the action was taking place due to a second commentator reading out grid references during the match.
The British media is dominated by national outlets, with local media playing a much smaller role. Traditionally the BBC played a dominant role in televising sport, providing extensive high-quality advertisement free coverage and free publicity in exchange for being granted broadcast rights for low fees.
ITV broadcast a smaller portfolio of events, and Channel 4 broadcast a few events from the s, mainly horse races and so-called minority sports. Their dedicated sports channels have since become the only place for some major sports to be seen. Starting in the Irish company Setanta Sports emerged as a challenger to Sky Sports' dominance of the British pay-TV sports market; however, Setanta's UK channel went into bankruptcy administration and off the air in Radio sports coverage is also important.
BBC Radio 5 Live broadcasts almost all major sports events. It now has a commercial rival called Talksport , but this has not acquired anywhere near as many exclusive contracts as Sky Sports and dedicates much of its airtime to sports discussions and phone-ins; Absolute Radio has also begun acquiring sports rights.
BBC Local Radio also provides extensive coverage of sport, giving more exposure to second-tier clubs which get limited national coverage.
United States[ edit ] National and local media both serve major roles in broadcasting sports in the United States. Depending on the league and event, telecasts are often shown live on network television traditionally on weekends and during major events — either national through a Television network , or in some cases, regionally syndicated by an operation such as Raycom Sports or a team , and nationally available cable channels such as ESPN or Fox Sports 1.
In some leagues such as the NHL and the NBA , events are also primarily shown by regional sports networks groups such as Fox Sports Networks , networks which air telecasts for teams of local interest, which are usually only carried within the relevant market.
Additionally, cable channels also exist that are dedicated to specific types of sports, certain college sports conferences, or a specific league. Pay-per-view broadcasts are typically restricted to combat sports such as boxing, mixed martial arts or professional wrestling.
Radio broadcasts are extensive. The national leagues each have national network coverage of league high games in addition to local radio coverage originating with each team, with ESPN Radio and WestwoodOne controlling national rights to the major team sports and the motorsports circuits operating their own networks.
Local radio broadcasts cover a wide variety of sports, ranging from the majors to local school and recreational leagues. Internet broadcasts are also common, though college and major professional sports either use a pay wall or subscriber-based systems such as TV Everywhere to extract payment.
Telephone broadcasts are rare, although a few companies provide the service.
History[ edit ] In , more than 1, people gathered in downtown Lawrence, Kansas to watch a mechanical reproduction of the Kansas vs. Missouri football game while it was being played.
A Western Union telegraph wire was set up direct from Columbia, Missouri. A group of people then would announce the results of the previous play and used a large model of a football playing field to show the results.
Those in attendance cheered as though they were watching the game live, including the school's legendary Rock Chalk, Jayhawk cheer. Harold W. Arlin announced a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies.
Two months later, on 8 October , from the same Forbes Field, Arlin announced the first live radio broadcast of a college football game on KDKA when he gave the play-by-play action of the University of Pittsburgh victory over West Virginia University.
The NCAA severely restricted broadcasts of college football from the s until a judge ruled that the action was a violation of antitrust rules in , which allowed for a much greater expansion of college football broadcasting.
The same year, the first nationwide radio broadcast of an NFL championship game was carried on the Mutual Broadcasting System. While the NFL had weak television deals that ranked behind college football and even the Canadian Football League in the s, the broadcast rights of the NFL would go on to become an important property following the NFL Championship and the later establishment of the American Football League in Four of the five major sports television units in the United States, and the four companies that control all of the major broadcast networks, currently own some NFL rights.
NBC also broadcast an NHL game in ; the league would briefly air games in the s, but due to a dispute over how much of the rights fee money the players would receive and difficulties programming around the two Canadian teams in the league at the time , the NHL refused to televise its games in the United States for six years in the s.
For this reason, as well as the regional nature of the sport, televised NHL games have struggled to gain a foothold on American television for the past several decades, trailing the other leagues in ratings.
After several decades of bouncing around various networks and a stretch from to when the league had no permanent broadcast partner , the NHL established a stable broadcast partner in , when NBC and what was then Outdoor Life Network now NBCSN took over NHL broadcast rights; they have since renewed those rights through College basketball, on the other hand, was much later in gaining a television foothold.
Although the NCAA Tournament has aired since , it was not until the mids that regular-season college basketball games would air on major network television. Outside of the networks, the only other source for national sports television was through early syndication networks. TVS Television Network helped popularize the broadcasts of college basketball and also gave an outlet to the short-lived World Football League.
Mizlou Television Network earned a reputation for carrying a large number of college football bowl games in an era when televised college football was highly restricted.
Modern syndication networks still exist for sporting events, such as Raycom Sports and American Sports Network , both of which specialize in college sports. The debut of ESPN in revolutionized the broadcasting of sports events. Within several years of ESPN's founding as a basic cable channel, it had developed a stable of sports broadcasts ranging from major leagues to oddities.
ESPN has since grown into a massive multiplexed network, with several channels and a large news bureau that has led to the network bestowing the title of "Worldwide Leader in Sports" upon itself.
Cable, and later digital cable and satellite, greatly expanded the number of channels and, by extension, the room for broadcasting sports events available on a given set, and also gave channels such as ESPN the ability to broadcast direct and nationwide, as opposed to dealing with local affiliates.
Syndication networks gave way to regional sports networks , which carried broadcasts of local sports on a far greater scale than full-service broadcast stations could provide at the time; these combined with out-of-market sports packages which debuted in the s allowed the carriage of these networks' sporting events across the country.
However, with the increased availability of sports to broadcast came increasing rights fees, which could be recovered by the newly authorized practice of collecting retransmission consent fees from cable subscribers, which has led to numerous disputes and the dropping of channels from cable lineups.
Individual leagues began launching their own networks in the s; specialty networks of other sports have had varying levels of success. One of the first live high-definition sports broadcasts in the U. The station claims this to have been the first locally produced HD broadcast in the U.