Media perception: team sports in the shadow of football: "displacement effects"

Handball, basketball and ice hockey fight for attention in the shadow of football.

Media perception: team sports in the shadow of football: "displacement effects"

Handball, basketball and ice hockey fight for attention in the shadow of football. At the first World Championships in November and December, the framework conditions changed drastically again in these weeks for the other team sports, but also for the popular winter sports disciplines. How does that work?

"Football causes enormous displacement effects," says media scientist Christoph Bertling from the Cologne Sports University. The figures for the previous year are impressive proof of this. In the list of the most-watched sports broadcasts, 29 football games are ahead of the Four Hills Tournament, which particularly benefits from its unique date on New Year's Day and attracted 7.3 million people to watch TV. This was followed by 16 football games again.

A big tournament in winter exacerbates the problem of other sports from the point of view of the media scientist Jana Wiske. "An event like the World Cup dominates the reporting for four weeks," says the professor at Ansbach University. "Even after the departure of the German team and boycott movements, the TV ratings remain in a range that other sports rarely reach."

Despite a drastic slump in ratings with a minus of around 50 percent compared to the 2018 World Cup, the preliminary round games in Qatar reached an average of 4.802 million viewers. For comparison: the DEL Winter Game was watched by an average of 70,000 people on free-to-air ServusTV. Or: The seasonal average of live broadcasts of the basketball Bundesliga on Sport1 is around 50,000 viewers.

For hardcore fans, "the World Cup is no competition"

The effects of the World Cup can be seen in the broadcast of the game between Frankfurt and Ulm, which Sport1 ran almost parallel to two preliminary round games in Qatar. Just 15,000 spectators watched. "Moving the World Cup to the winter is particularly difficult for sports that have found their place in the media here," media expert Bertling explains the difference to the soccer tournaments in summer.

"For team sports such as handball, ice hockey or basketball, which sometimes collide with soccer games during the day, this Winter World Cup means less visibility because almost everything in the media is focused on the major sporting event for four weeks," explains Wiske.

However, the numbers look different in pay TV, for example at Telekom. According to a spokesman, there were "no abnormalities" in the ice hockey and basketball broadcasts with the MagentaSport paid service during the World Cup. For the hardcore fans, who even pay a subscription for their sport, "the World Cup is no competition," says the spokesman, without naming numbers.

The situation is similar for the loyal winter sports fan community. The ratings on ARD and ZDF are consistently high, especially for the biathlon. At the second World Cup weekend, more than 3.5 million people watched the two relay races - as many as at other races at this time of year. Winter sports have been helped by the fact that associations, in consultation with TV stations, have ensured that there are almost no overlaps with football.