A new book by a Cheshire resident examines the evolution of sports media
CHESHIRE – Over the past two years, school, college and professional sports have been turned upside down.
Seasons have been canceled or shortened. Fans were banned from attending games. In-season schedules have been modified due to positive COVID-19 tests. Athletes and coaches had to adapt to an ever-changing landscape that offered little consistency.
It seems like a really good time to dive deep into the world of sports media.
That’s exactly what local resident Dennis Deninger has done with his new book, “Live Sports Media: The What, How, And Why of Sports Media.” An update to Deninger’s other work, ‘Sports on Television’, published a decade ago, this book takes an intimate look at how the pandemic, live streaming services and changing demographics have had an impact on the sports media industry and and how this industry is likely to continue to currency.
The book has received recognition from many media personalities.
“Dennis Deninger’s combination of extensive sports television production experience and decades as a professor at Syracuse University’s prestigious Newhouse School makes this comprehensive look at broadcast sports particularly believable,” said Bob. Costas, a former NBC sportscaster who currently hosts the HBO show “Back on the Record with Bob Costas.
“It’s amazing how much everything has changed,” said Deninger, who spent years at ESPN as a producer and is now a television, film and radio professor at Syracuse University. “As little as ten years ago, you didn’t have all these streaming services. Now they are a (major force) in sports media.
Deninger’s first book was a comprehensive look at the sports media of the time, providing readers with an insight into the history of sports on television as well as a behind-the-scenes look into the production of a sports broadcast.
The idea of an update was first raised by Deninger editor Routledge Taylor and Francis Group in the summer of 2020. Recognizing everything that had happened since 2010, when “Sports on Television” had been printed, and considering Deninger had suddenly found himself teaching at home via Zoom, the award-winning producer and executive was determined to move the project forward.
“I kind of accepted it as my second full-time job,” he said.
At the start of the pandemic, the NBA season was paused in March 2020, only to resume later that summer. The NCAA basketball tournament has been canceled. High school sports seasons have also been canceled and college fall seasons have been threatened.
“The (Major League Baseball) season, only 30% of the games were played,” he recalled, “but 100% of the (television rights) fees were due.”
In addition, social upheavals have affected all sports. The Black Lives Matter movement and other social justice initiatives became a huge storyline in 2020 and 2021. Then there was the influence of live streaming services, as sports viewership began to migrate from networks traditional and cable channels to other outlets.
In order to capture this tumultuous time, Deninger conducted more than 20 interviews with media professionals, from television executives and producers to on-air talent such as ESPN’s Chris Fowler and CBS’s Ian Eagle.
“I can tell you that this process (of writing the book) made me a stronger teacher,” he said. “I am more up to date, more enlightened. I’ve always said that the more you know, the more questions you will ask.
Deninger views the book, first and foremost, as a guide for those looking to break into the industry in the years to come — the types of individuals most likely to take Deninger’s courses at Syracuse. However, he also thinks the book will be of interest to anyone fascinated by the sports media industry.
The book also offers predictions about the direction the media industry and the sports world in general will take in the coming years. That’s the subject of Deninger’s latest chapter, in which he tackles a world where fewer people in the coveted 18-24 age bracket are currently watching sports – Deninger mentioned how this year’s Super Bowl, despite generally positive ratings, saw a precipitous decline in viewership among the younger demographic.
“Live Sports Media: The What, How and Why of Sports Broadcasting” is available by visiting www.routledge.com.