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The importance of suspense and surprise in entertainment demand: Evidence from Wimbledon


  • Bizzozero, Paolo
  • Flepp, Raphael
  • Franck, Egon


This paper empirically examines how suspense and surprise affect the demand for entertainment. We use a tennis tournament, the Wimbledon Championships, as a natural laboratory. This setting allows us to both operationalize suspense and surprise by using the audience's beliefs regarding the outcome of the match and observe the demand for live entertainment using TV audience figures. Our match fixed effects estimates of 8563 minute-by-minute observations from 80 men's singles matches between 2009 and 2014 show that both suspense and surprise are drivers of media entertainment demand. In general, surprise seems to be more important in this regard than suspense, and both factors matter more during a match's later moments. We discuss important implications for the design of entertainment content to maximize entertainment demand.

Suggested Citation

  • Bizzozero, Paolo & Flepp, Raphael & Franck, Egon, 2016. "The importance of suspense and surprise in entertainment demand: Evidence from Wimbledon," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 130(C), pages 47-63.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:130:y:2016:i:c:p:47-63
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2016.07.006

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    Cited by:

    1. Raphael Flepp & Oliver Merz & Egon Franck, 2024. "When the league table lies: Does outcome bias lead to informationally inefficient markets?," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 62(1), pages 414-429, January.
    2. Ge, Qi, 2018. "Sports sentiment and tipping behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 95-113.
    3. Meier, Philippe & Flepp, Raphael & Ruedisser, Maximilian & Franck, Egon, 2020. "Separating psychological momentum from strategic momentum: Evidence from men’s professional tennis," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 78(C).
    4. Egon Franck, 2018. "European Club Football after “Five Treatments” with Financial Fair Play—Time for an Assessment," IJFS, MDPI, vol. 6(4), pages 1-19, December.
    5. Dietl, Helmut & Özdemir, Anil & Rendall, Andrew, 2020. "The role of facial attractiveness in tennis TV-viewership," Sport Management Review, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 521-535.
    6. Georgios Nalbantis & Tim Pawlowski, 2019. "U.S. Demand for European Soccer Telecasts: A Between-Country Test of the Uncertainty of Outcome Hypothesis," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 20(6), pages 797-818, August.
    7. Scarf, Phil & Parma, Rishikesh & McHale, Ian, 2019. "On outcome uncertainty and scoring rates in sport: The case of international rugby union," European Journal of Operational Research, Elsevier, vol. 273(2), pages 721-730.
    8. Tim Pawlowski & Dooruj Rambaccussing & Philip Ramirez & James & Giambattista Rossi, 2023. "Exploring Entertainment Utility from Football Games," Economics Discussion Papers em-dp2023-13, Department of Economics, University of Reading.
    9. Travis Richardson & Georgios Nalbantis & Tim Pawlowski, 2023. "Emotional Cues and the Demand for Televised Sports: Evidence from the UEFA Champions League," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 24(8), pages 993-1025, December.
    10. Pascal Flurin Meier & Raphael Flepp & Egon Franck, 2021. "Are sports betting markets semistrong efficient? Evidence from the COVID-19 pandemic," Working Papers 387, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    11. Paolo Figini & Veronica Leoni & Laura Vici, 2023. "And suddenly, the rain! How surprises shape experienced utility," Working Papers wp1185, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    12. Helmut Dietl & Anil Özdemir & Andrew Rendall, 2018. "The Role of Physical Attractiveness in Tennis TV-Viewership," Working Papers 376, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).
    13. Russell S. Sobel & Reagan N. Sobel & Douglas M. Walker & Peter T. Calcagno, 2019. "How Effective Are Expert Tv Hosts At Saving Failing Businesses?," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 37(1), pages 9-24, January.
    14. Martín González Eiras & Nikolaj A. Harmon & Martín Rossi, 2017. "Fundamentals and Optimal Institutions: The case of US sports leagues," Working Papers 128, Universidad de San Andres, Departamento de Economia, revised Jan 2017.
    15. Babatunde Buraimo & David Forrest & Ian G. McHale & J.D. Tena, 2020. "Unscripted Drama: Soccer Audience Response To Suspense, Surprise, And Shock," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 58(2), pages 881-896, April.
    16. Selçuk Özaydın & Thomas Könecke, 2024. "Match-Level Uncertainty in Professional Tennis Revisited—A Novel Approach Applied for the Time Between 2010 and 2019," Journal of Sports Economics, , vol. 25(4), pages 507-532, May.
    17. Philippe Meier & Maximilian Rüdisser & Raphael Flepp & Egon Franck, 2019. "Investigating the conditions for psychological momentum in the field: Evidence from men’s professional tennis," Working Papers 383, University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration (IBW).

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    More about this item


    Suspense; Surprise; Entertainment; TV audience; Betting odds; Tennis;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D83 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty - - - Search; Learning; Information and Knowledge; Communication; Belief; Unawareness
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism


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