Does Match Uncertainty Increase Attendance? A Non-Regression Approach
The uncertainty of outcome hypothesis predicts that more balanced sports matches should attract higher attendances, but the empirical evidence is mixed at best. First, this article shows that the inconsistent findings in the literature could be explained by wrongly specified regressions. Second, a new approach to analyzing the effect of match uncertainty is proposed. Using data about nine seasons of the English Championship, the article shows that in a pair of matches where both home teams are slight favorites, a switch of the corresponding away teams would decrease the total attendance by several percent, while the opposite is true if both home teams are underdogs or strong favorites. These results suggest that attendance demand is a bell-shaped function of match balance that is maximized if teams of the same quality play against each other.
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