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Why do fans go to football games? A discrete choice analysis of ticket buyers' preferences

Mario Becerra (Department of Biosystems, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium)
Matteo Balliauw (Department of Transport and Regional Economics, Faculty of Business and Economics, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium) (RBFA Knowledge Centre, Brussels, Belgium)
Peter Goos (Department of Biosystems, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium) (Department of Engineering Management, Faculty of Business and Economics, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium)
Bruno De Borger (Department of Economics, Faculty of Business and Economics, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium)
Benjamin Huyghe (Department of Transport and Regional Economics, Faculty of Business and Economics, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium) (Department of Economics, Faculty of Business and Economics, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium)
Thomas Truyts (Department of Transport and Regional Economics, Faculty of Business and Economics, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium) (Department of Economics, Faculty of Business and Economics, Universiteit Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium)

International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship

ISSN: 1464-6668

Article publication date: 31 October 2023

Issue publication date: 19 January 2024

225

Abstract

Purpose

Ticket sales are an essential source of income for football clubs and federations. Analyzing the determinants of fans' willingness-to-pay for tickets is therefore an important exercise. By knowing the match- and fan-related characteristics that influence how much a fan wants to pay for a ticket, as well as to what extent, football clubs and federations can modify their ticket offering and targeting in order to optimize this revenue stream.

Design/methodology/approach

Using a detailed discrete choice experiment, based on McFadden's random utility theory, this paper formulates a Bayesian hierarchical multinomial logit model. Such models are very common in the discrete choice modeling literature. The analysis identifies to what extent match and personal attributes influence fans' willingness-to-pay for games of the Belgian men's and women's football national teams.

Findings

The results show that the strength of the opponent, the type of competition, the location of the seats in the stadium, the day and kick-off time of the match and the ticket price exert an influence on the choice of the respondent. Fans are attracted most by competitive games against strong opponents. They prefer to sit along the sideline, and they have clear preferences for specific kick-off days and times. The authors also find substantial variation between socio-demographic groups, defined in terms of factors such as age, gender and family composition.

Practical implications

The authors use the results to estimate the willingness-to-pay for match tickets for different socio-demographic groups. Their findings are useful for football clubs and federations interested in optimizing the prices of their match tickets.

Originality/value

To the best of the authors' knowledge, no stated preference methods, such as discrete choice analysis, have been used to analyze the willingness-to-pay of sports fans. The advantage of discrete choice analysis is that options and variations in tickets that are not yet available in practice can be studied, allowing football organizations to increase revenues from new ticketing instruments.

Keywords

Citation

Becerra, M., Balliauw, M., Goos, P., De Borger, B., Huyghe, B. and Truyts, T. (2024), "Why do fans go to football games? A discrete choice analysis of ticket buyers' preferences", International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 88-108. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSMS-05-2023-0093

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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