What makes sports fans curious to rewatch contests or watch when an outcome is known? I’ve contemplated this question for a long time. Outcome uncertainty is removed, but the means in which that outcome unfolded is still unknown.
For a long time, football fans in the United Kingdom and Ireland have watched Match of the Day. This show began in August 1964, originally broadcasting live matches on BBC2 and has become a famous soccer highlights show. I can remember a time when it was actually possible to watch Match of the Day without knowing the scores of matches that took place earlier that Saturday – technological change has made this almost impossible now. With YouTube and other streaming services it is now possible to review football matches almost immediately after a match concludes.
In a recent paper we consider ex-post demand, so we can look at motivators to watch when results are known. The full paper can be accessed here.
We followed the EPL game schedule on a rolling basis and extracted Sky Sports YouTube views in real-time prior to the start of a new game-week. We did this for 751 highlight reels on the Sky's Premier League YouTube channel over the 2019/2020 and 2020/21 seasons. In August 2019, Sky UK widened their content options for non-subscribing consumers by hosting these highlights.
What do fans like to watch when outcomes are known? First, they prefer matches with shock outcomes. As expected, fans show less interest in football where the score line result is more predictable a priori. Also unsurprisingly, fans prefer to review matches with a higher expected goals – most likely indicating a better quality contest.
There are also some individual events taking place in matches that fans prefer. For example, matches with red cards, exceptional goals, bad mistakes and penalties all attract higher views. Finally, we find that fans like to review star players scoring.