Institute of Sports Science


Given the choice: on-site or on-screen spectator sports?

25.9.20: A new research project explores whether live broadcasts were considered as a substitute for stadium attendance already before the COVID-19 pandemic.

If a sports competition is broadcasted live, consumers may opt for substituting gate attendance with watching that game live on TV (or online). This might be worrisome for teams, particularly those in lower divisions, whose game day revenues typically exceed broadcasting revenues.

So far, however, the literature testing this claim empirically is inconclusive. This study explores whether (at least parts of) this confusion might be traced back to shortcomings in the econometric modelling process using attendance data for 1,138 games in German third division football from the 2015/16 to 2017/18 seasons.

The findings highlight the relevance of controlling for the selection bias when analyzing the impact of live broadcasting on stadium attendance. Even though there is suggestive evidence for postponing ticket demand to some extent to later games, the overall negative effect of live broadcasts on stadium attendance remains robust and large.

From a managerial point of view, the findings suggest that increasing the number of games broadcasted live in German third division football might not be advisable, since additional broadcasting revenues may not exceed predicted losses in ticket revenues.

The research paper was recently accepted for publication in the European Sport Management Quarterly.

Wallrafen, T., Deutscher, C. & Pawlowski, T. (2020). The Impact of Live Broadcasting on Stadium Attendance Reconsidered: Some Evidence from 3rd Division Football in Germany. European Sport Management Quarterly, doi: 10.1080/16184742.2020.1828967.