International Sports Press Surveys 2005 and 2011

(The project was concluded in 2011)

Working with different partners in 2005 and 2011, Play the Game has investigated how print media all over the world cover issues of sport. 

The two surveys were both - at their time - the largest quantitative surveys of sports content ever undertaken in printed media.

2005 International Sport Press Survey:
The World’s Best Advertising Agency: The Sports Press

Sports editors of daily newspapers all over the world allow the sports industry to set the agenda and the priorities for coverage of sports events.

That was the main conclusion of the 2005 International Sports Press Survey undertaken by the Danish think-tank on news, the House of Monday Morning, on commission from Play the Game, and the Danish Institute for Sports Studies and carried out in co-operation with research institutions in 10 different countries.

Based on 10,007 sports articles in 37 newspapers from 10 different countries shows that the sports pages in daily newspapers are dominated by the particular types of sport, sports stars and international events which create the biggest turnovers on parameters such as advertising, sponsorship, numbers of television viewers and spectators in the stadium.

Download the journalistic summary of the findings

Learn more about the 2005 survey

The International Sports Press Survey 2005 was based on an analysis of 10,007 sports articles in 37 newspapers from 10 different countries.

In each of the participating countries, three to five major newspapers were surveyed including at least one tabloid newspaper, a broadsheet paper and a local newspaper.

The survey covered 14 days of publication in the period from 11 April to 24 July 2005 where all articles on the sports pages of the newspapers - apart from brief notes - were registered in a database with information about 14 different parameters including

  • the article’s journalistic format
  • the gender of the journalist
  • the type of sport
  • the theme of the article
  • geographical focus
  • the gender of the athletes
  • the number and types of sources


The Australian; Herald Sun (Melbourne); Sydney Morning Herald; and The West Australian

Kleine Zeitung; Kronen Zeitung; and Salzburger Nachrichten

B.T.; Politiken; Berlingske Tidende; Jyllands Posten; and Fyens Stiftstidende

The Daily Telegraph; The Sun; and The Daily Mail

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung; Bild Zeitung; Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung; Süddeutsche Zeitung; Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung; and Hamburger Abendblatt

Aftenposten; VG; and Nordlys

Evenimentul Zilei; Libertatea; and Adevarul

The Herald; The Daily Record; and The Scottish Sun

Der Tagesanzeiger; Blick; and Neue Zürcher Zeitung

USA Today; The New York Times; The Cleveland Plain Dealer; Atlanta Journal Constitution; and Nashville Tennessean

The International Sports Press Survey was designed by the House of Monday Morning, Denmark, and financed by the Danish Institute for Sports Studies and Play the Game.

The collection of data was undertaken in cooperation with Play the Game and implemented in cooperation with universities and researchers in the US, Britain, Scotland, Norway, Germany, Romania, Austria, Switzerland, and Australia.

Jörg-Uwe Nieland

Jörg-Uwe Nieland presents the book with the findings from the 2011 Sports Press Survey. Photo: Thomas Søndergaard/Play the Game

2011 International Sports Press Survey:
Newspapers continue to focus narrowly on sports results

Sports politics and themes connected to the massive amounts of money in sports are largely ignored by the world's printed media when it comes to covering sport.
Instead, sports stars and their performances completely dominate the pages with football as the sport that takes up most column inches by far.

That is the short summary of the findings from Play the Game's 'International Sports Press Survey' that was carried out in collaboration with researchers Jörg-Uwe Nieland from the German Sports University in Cologne and Thomas Horky from the Macromedia University for Media and Communication in Hamburg.

The survey is based on 17,777 articles about sport from 80 newspapers in 22 different countries. That makes the survey the largest quantitative survey of sports content ever undertaken in printed media.

The findings were published in a book edited by Thomas Horky and Jürg-Uwe Nieland that is available on Amazon.

Read more in the article 'New sports press survey: Newspapers focus narrowly on sports results'

Download a presentation about the findings presentation from Play the Game 2013 

Buy the book 'International Sports Press Survey 2011'  from Amazon


Learn more about the 2011 survey

The International Sports Press Survey 2011 was based on an analysis of 18,340 sports articles in 81 newspapers from 22 different countries.

In each of the participating countries, the biggest national, tabloid and regional newspapers were included in the survey.

The survey covered 14 days of publication between April and July 2011 (two artificial weeks).

All articles about sports topics in the newspaper were coded, with the exclusion of short news, news from wire services, and results in the form of statistics.

80 newspapers from 22 countries were surveyed, and data from  17,777 articles were entered into a database.

Below is a table that shows the participating countries and the number of articles collected from each country.


Some additional data were added later, so the final research was based on 18,340 articles and 81 newspapers.

The International Sports Press Survey 2011 is a comparative study on the quality of sports reporting in print media.

The editors, Thomas Horky and Jörg-Uwe Nieland, have worked with researchers from 22 countries to collect data from national newspaper coverage of sport.

The world's largest study of its kind helps to identify similarities and differences in sports reporting.

In the book 'International Sports Press Survey 2011', the findings are presented together with more specific research in 14 selected country studies. The results are placed in the context of the print media crisis, and conclusions are drawn to deal with the new challenges for sports journalism.

The book 'International Sports Press Survey 2011'  is available for purchase from Amazon