Texas Tech University

Instant Replay Becomes Staple of Sports Television Viewing Experience

George Watson

January 29, 2015

Texas Tech lab research examines instant replay impact on viewer perception and emotion.


Glenn Cummins, an assistant professor and associate dean for research in the Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication, has performed extensive research on how instant replay has affected the sports television viewing audience. His research is particularly applicable with the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Click here to read more on his research - and about the Center for Communication Research.


Glenn Cummins, assistant professor and associate dean for research, College of Media & Communication, (806) 834-3117 or glenn.cummins@ttu.edu.

Talking Points

  • As Super Bowl XLIX approaches, television executives expect millions to be glued to their television sets watching the big game. In the course of a broadcast, most plays will be shown at least twice, some several times depending on their importance to the game. That illustrates how big of a staple instant replay has become to the sports viewing audience. It's also an area for which Texas Tech professor Glenn Cummins has spent countless hours researching the effects, physiologically and emotionally, instant replay has on the viewing audience.
  • Cummins' research has looked mostly at football and how networks and broadcasters fill the 30-40 seconds between plays. He's examined not only the techniques broadcasters use to fill those gaps, but also the emotional responses those techniques elicit and how they affect the viewing audience going forward.
  • Cummins said not only does instant replay bring a response to the current play, it also produces a heightened anticipation of the upcoming play more than if there was no instant replay. Essentially, human emotion in watching a play does not have to start over each play because the emotional response from the previous play bleeds into the next.


  • “What I'm interested in is how the technical embellishments, the production techniques that have been brought to bear in a telecast can be used to craft and influence viewer response. Networks can't control the nature of the matchup. They can't make both teams be good. What's in their control are the technical resources developed over time to cover a competition.”
  • “My focus is on how broadcasters strategically use instant replay to achieve some sort of end. The two things I look at in my research are how instant replay is being used to change the perception of events and how instant replay can produce an emotional response to what you're seeing.”
  • “An exciting play is going to be exciting no matter what. The touchdown, the home run will get the audience going. Dull plays need all the help they can get. In terms of perception, instant replay does a terrific job of changing how people perceive game action.”