The Impact of Rivalry Antecedents on Mediated Demand for an Individual Sport

Lamar Reams and Terry Eddy

In contrast to research examining the social-psychological aspects of how sport fans perceive rivalry games in team sports, far less is known regarding the impact rivalries have on mediated consumer demand, a marketing outcome of interest to sport researchers and practitioners. Guided by economic demand theory, the current study developed a model to empirically examine the impact of Tyler and Cobbs’ (2015) rivalry antecedents (conflict, peer, bias) on fan interest for an individual sport. The three-dimensional framework provided the foundation for the selection of thirteen rivalry-related variables, in addition to control determinants established from prior literature. Results from the estimation indicate rivalry conflict is the primary driver of demand for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view buys, while peer and bias are less influential dimensions. Short-term performance similarities (recent winning percentage) and long-term performance dissimilarities (historical winning percentage) among the main and co-main event fighters are significant to generating increased buyrates. Organizational marketing activities (i.e., event poster - defining moment) were the strongest overall predictor of pay-per-view buys. Conceptual discussion and practical implications are provided, including recommendations for future research.