NCAA College Basketball Television Viewership: Does Preference for Outcome Uncertainty Change Throughout the Season?

Byungju Kang
Steven Salaga
Scott Tainsky
Matthew Juravich

This paper estimates the relationship between outcome uncertainty and television viewership in NCAA Division I men’s college basketball. The results demonstrate mixed support for the uncertainty of outcome hypothesis. Viewers prefer contests anticipated to be more certain, but also respond favorably to contests which have higher levels of within-game outcome uncertainty. The results also indicate that these preferences are not static across the season calendar. During postseason play, the preference for anticipated contest certainty is reduced, while the preference for within-game uncertainty is heightened. Given that consumers respond favorably to lower levels of anticipated contest uncertainty, from a policy perspective, there is little evidence that the current NCAA structure—which allows competition between programs with sizeable differences in both revenue and team quality—negatively impacts television viewership or associated revenues.

JEL classification: L82, L83, Z2