The media plays a crucial role in major sports

Recently published “International exploration of the best sports and media”, conducted by Ecorys on behalf of the Department of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS), looks in detail at the interaction between major media and sport in five countries. The report, which analyzes the situation in the US, UK, Germany, Sweden and Japan, emphasizes the crucial role that the media plays in increasing the social value of elite sport.

Key points from the report:

  • Social value of senior sports: Senior sports have great social value, regardless of the degree of government involvement. Public and commercial parties can contribute to the visibility and popularity of sports, depending on the historical, political and cultural context of the country.
  • Media organization and accessThe way the media is organised has a direct impact on the accessibility and popularity of top sports. Public broadcasters play an important role in broadcasting national and international sporting events, while commercial channels focus on major competitions. The rise of streaming services and social media is also contributing to increased viewership and fan engagement.
  • Social Media and BrandingIn the United States, social media plays an increasingly important role for top athletes and sports content. Sports federations and athletes use social media not only to share sports-related content but also for social initiatives, increasing engagement with a broad audience.
  • The emergence of women’s sportsIn Sweden, public broadcaster SVT has successfully implemented a policy to increase the visibility of women’s sports by covering 50/50 men’s and women’s sports. This has led to a significant increase in the popularity and economic value of women’s sports.
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The report contains case studies that illustrate different approaches to dealing with the media and elite sport in the countries included in the study. In Germany, “free to watch” broadcasting of sporting events plays an important role in encouraging sports participation, while the “paid to watch” system has proven useful for major sports such as football. In the United Kingdom, sports organizations demonstrate social commitment by supporting local community initiatives.


The report concludes that the social value of top sports in the Netherlands could be increased through better cooperation between public and private media and through policy measures that promote the visibility of lesser-known sports and women’s sports. Although the government’s influence on the relationship between the media and top sports is limited, targeted support and incentive initiatives can have a positive impact.


Ecoris and the Department of Health, Social Care and Sport stress that further research is needed to translate the ideas in this report into concrete policy measures. This would contribute to achieving the Ministry’s broader goals in the areas of sports, media and social value.

For more information and to access the full report, visit the Department of Health, Social Care and Sport website.

Amber Webster

 "Freelance zombie fanatic. Devoted web advocate. Analyst. Writer. Coffee fanatic. Travelaholic. Proud food aficionado."

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