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The Role of Physical Attractiveness in Tennis TV-Viewership


  • Helmut Dietl

    () (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)

  • Anil Özdemir

    () (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)

  • Andrew Rendall

    () (Department of Business Administration, University of Zurich)


What is beautiful is good, the ancient Greek lyric poet Sappho wrote over 2,500 years ago. Studies in social sciences, anthropology, psychology, and economics have shown various effects of physical attractiveness. Physically attractive people are hired more often, receive faster promotion, and generally earn more per hour; thus, there is a beauty premium. However, within the context of sports, little is known about consumer preferences concerning athletes’ physical attractiveness. In this study, we analyze 622 live tennis matches from 66 Grand Slam tournaments between 2000 and 2016, examining the relationship between attractiveness, measured by tennis players’ facial symmetry, and TV-viewership. We show that facial symmetry plays a positive role for female matches while there is no significant effect for male matches. The effect persists in several subsample regressions and robustness checks. Our results have important implications for managers in the field of sports. TV-broadcasters will likely acknowledge additional revenue potential from advertising due to increased viewership and change their programming accordingly. We contribute to the sports management and economics literature in that we introduce a new method to measure facial symmetry and show that physical attractiveness plays a positive role in tennis TV-viewership.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:zrh:wpaper:376

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hamermesh, Daniel S & Biddle, Jeff E, 1994. "Beauty and the Labor Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1174-1194, December.
    2. Hamermesh, Daniel S. & Meng, Xin & Zhang, Junsen, 2002. "Dress for success--does primping pay?," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(3), pages 361-373, July.
    3. Dennis Coates & Brad R. Humphreys & Li Zhou, 2014. "Reference-Dependent Preferences, Loss Aversion, And Live Game Attendance," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 52(3), pages 959-973, July.
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    More about this item


    physical attractiveness; demand; consumer discrimination; tennis;

    JEL classification:

    • L83 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Sports; Gambling; Restaurants; Recreation; Tourism
    • D12 - Microeconomics - - Household Behavior - - - Consumer Economics: Empirical Analysis
    • Z2 - Other Special Topics - - Sports Economics

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