Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Mass Communication and Media Arts
In the United States, regional sports networks broadcast games of home teams to audiences in specific communities, or geographical areas. Ownership of regional sports network by sports teams presents a unique type of vertical integration. Regional sports networks use distinctive programming to connect to local sports culture. This dissertation explores the historical significance of New England Sports Network (NESN), a team created, owned and operated regional sports network, which broadcasts Boston Red Sox baseball games and Boston Bruins hockey games throughout the New England region. Using elements of cultural studies, specifically political economy and textual analysis, this dissertation examines the impact of the ownership structure of NESN on NESN programming and how NESN uses programming to connect to local sports culture. This dissertation employs the theoretical frameworks of the sports/media complex and the base and superstructure model to support the argument that regional sports networks function not only on an economic level, but on a political economic and cultural level as well. Historically, NESN is the first successful team created, owned and operated regional sports network. NESN's creation established a new form of sports media ownership where sports team owners could essentially form private media corporations to increase earnings and extend operations across industries. NESN utilizes specific visual and aural techniques to differentiate NESN programming from other national and regional sports broadcasters. NESN also uses the same techniques to connect to local sports culture and to the everyday lives of sports consumers. The televised sports text offers NESN a space where the network can function on both a political economic and cultural level. Additionally, NESN presents a real world example of how the sports/media complex has become a more intricate theoretical framework.
This dissertation is Open Access and may be downloaded by anyone.