Instagram is continuing to grow as a significant space for visual communication and for organizations to increase their audience engagement. However, with the changing preferences of new generations, particularly Gen Z, organizations are challenged with adapting their communication strategies to cater to this generation. This is especially the case for sport media companies as the interest of Gen Z in consuming sports is gradually decreasing. This research explores the communication of ESPN and Bleacher Report on Instagram to uncover the user experience it constructs and how it appeals to a U.S. Gen Z audience, thus, answering the follow research question: How does the user experience of sports media companies on Instagram in the United States appeal to Generation Z? This study is based on a thematic analysis of 248 Instagram posts combined from ESPN and Bleacher Report. The analysis established that the main visual and textual communication elements of the Instagram posts are perception of design and informativeness, image management of people and activities, integration of various media types, and interactivity through emotion and overall feeling, which were expressed by the companies to varying degrees. The findings revealed that ESPN’s communication exhibits low simplicity, moderate entertainment, and moderate emotional connectedness while Bleacher Report’s communication displays moderate simplicity, high entertainment, and high emotional connectedness. The results also indicated that a U.S. Gen Z audience is likely to appeal to both companies, though, favoring Bleacher Report to a larger degree. The study, thus, offers sports media companies direction on the aspects of their current communication strategy on Instagram that they can consider further improving to optimize the audience engagement of Gen Z.

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Dr. Fred Lund
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Maya Job. (2022, June 27). The User Experience of Sports Media Companies on Instagram: A Gen Z Perspective. Media & Business. Retrieved from