Exploring Entertainment Utility

Exploring entertainment utility from football games

The uncertainty of outcome hypothesis, a crucial aspect of sport economics since the very first seminal contributions, remains contentious. Investigations using pre-match betting odds tend to produce little support for the hypothesis. More recently, following the work of Ely et al. (2015) attention has switched somewhat to identifying the entertainment utility from suspense and surprise. Two recent studies, Bizzozero et al. (2016) and Buraimo et al. (2020), using in-play data on in-match events and television viewership, provide some initial support for uncertainty-of-outcome-related preferences. They are, however, unable to shed any light on fan sentiment, or indeed to identify fan reactions. However, it seems likely that fans of the contestants participating in a contest will react differently to neutral viewers, and hence understanding their particular reaction to particular in-play stimuli like suspense, surprise and shock, is important. In this paper we use in-play betting prices, information on in-play match events, and social media information from fans of English Premier League soccer teams to firstly identify how many of those participating in a football match event are fans of the two teams involved, and subsequently assess how they reacted to the suspense, but also the shock and surprise from their perspective as fans. Preliminary results suggest that surprise appears to be the driving factor in social media activity.

This talk was given by James Reade from the University of Reading.