Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Study Finds the Credibility of Sports-Specific Sites to be Most Appealing to Consumers

Rise of Twitter not as significant as some might think and other sports specific sites are still king when it comes to fan’s preference for getting their sports news, a recent University of Maryland study has discovered. The study focused on young adult sports fans mainly located in the northeastern part of the United States. While Twitter is gaining more and more momentum as a media outlet, most survey participants still preferred to go to traditional media sources over the 140-character limit social network.

The way the public gathers their news has changed drastically throughout the past two decades. Not long ago, consumers would have to wait for their morning newspaper to get their sports news from the night before. Now, with the 24-news cycle and the instant analysis on the Internet, people are able have their sports news at the blink of an eye.

Sports-specific sites dominate the market

According to the research, which surveyed 91 different sports fans, 79% of people prefer to go to sports-specific sites to get their sports news. Comparatively, only 8% used Twitter as their preferred site and 9% frequented newspaper Web sites as their main source for sports news. Only 9% of respondents said that they did not frequent sports-specific sites at least occasionally to get their sports news.

Out of the respondents, 20% said that they access the Internet primarily through their smart phone. Only 5% of those, however, said that they primarily use Twitter as a means to gather news. Despite the perceived ease one would have by accessing the Internet on their phone, only 22% of those respondents said that they value ease of access over credibility when looking for their sports news. Credibility was overall much more important to sports fans than ease of access, with 65% of all respondents choosing it.

ESPN leads the way

Many people cited ESPN’s live updating and mobile access as a reason that they prefer sports-specific sites. The term “Worldwide Leader in Sports” dominated the comments section, as many people believe that not only are they the most credible, they also have a very easily navigated Web site.

“I go to ESPN because it is credible and easy to get to,” said John O’Connell, an avid sports fan who partook in the survey. “I’m used to using it; I have been going there for as long as I can remember. It’s ‘The Worldwide Leader’ for a reason.”

The amount of information is another feature that draws readers to certain sites. Every respondent said they followed at least more than one sport, either closely or casually. Having all of their information in one spot is convenient for them.

“ is simple; and it gives a broad amount of information on virtually any sport,” said one respondent.

Twitter is connected to certain sports

The study also researched the fandom of certain sports and its connection to Twitter. For example, 82% of respondents who use Twitter follow football, compared to only 10% for golf and soccer and 14% for tennis. No people who use Twitter also followed NASCAR. The sport that had the most variation was professional basketball, where 55% of Twitter users followed the NBA while 45% did not.

Credibility still the most essential

In terms of preferring ease of access over credibility, the two college sports scored higher than all of the professional sports. 53% of people who prefer ease of access to their sports news follow college football closely, while 56% of those people follow college basketball closely. Those were the only two sports that were over 50%, outside of the NFL which was followed closely by an astounding 85% of people who responded. NFL tended to be an outlier in most categories because of its enormous popularity. However, only 36% of people who said that they follow college football closely said that they prefer easy access, and 30% of college basketball fans preferred easy access.

It can be concluded that despite the new trend of breaking news the second you hear anything and the instant news Twitter provides, sports fans still value credibility over everything else. The most credible sites, according to the results, are ESPN-like sports specific sites. Several people described ESPN as “the authority.”

“I chose because it is easy to view all sports and very reliable and organized,” said one respondent.

Ease of access and credibility are not mutually exclusive, it takes both to become a top destination for sports news. Fans of all sports would rather go to a Web site that they believed was credible than one that they had an easier time getting to.

“It is nice to get the news quickly,” said O’Connell. “But if I can’t trust what I am reading, it does me no good. I’ll wait for a write up on a site I trust to get my sports information.”

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