Ghost games and ex-post viewing preferences for the English Premier League: Evidence from YouTube highlights
We ask if the move to play elite football (soccer) matches without spectators during the COVID-19 pandemic impacted online viewership. Using a new dataset from YouTube, we depart from the traditional ex ante approach to modelling football demand and investigate streaming preferences for known results in football. Our data is collected in real-time and considers English Premier League matches from 2019 to 2021 played both in front of crowds and behind closed doors. The results indicate increased viewership for matches played without crowds. The findings also allow a deeper understanding of direct demand for football as we identify motivators, including different pre-game and in-game characteristics as well as scheduling effects, that make fans curious to view content after the fact. The research adds to our understanding of the effects of the pandemic on fan viewer behaviour and speaks to broadcasting firms developing digital extension strategies.
Ghost games , COVID-19 , Demand , Streaming , YouTube , Broadcasting
Butler, D. and Butler, R. (2023) 'Ghost games and ex-post viewing preferences for the English Premier League: Evidence from YouTube highlights', Sports Economics Review, 2, 100012 (7pp). doi: 10.1016/j.serev.2023.100012