Document Type

Working Paper

Publication Date



College of Business and Economics

Document Number





A growing body of research examines the effect of loss aversion (LA) on consumers’ decisions to watch or attend sporting events. Much of this research focuses on live game attendance. In contrast to the predictions of uncertainty of outcome hypothesis (UOH), loss-averse consumers prefer watching either potential upsets, or dominant performances by strong favorites, to events with uncertain outcomes. We test for LA vs. UOH effects in television viewing audience data for free over-the-air broadcasts of 304 Spanish football matches from 2008/09 to 2015/16. This setting generates substantial variation home team win probabilities because of the presence of Real Madrid CF and FC Barcelona. The results support the importance of LA/upset preferences: audience size for matches when home teams are large underdogs and when heavily favored are larger than for matches with uncertain outcomes, even when controlling for observable and unobservable factors affecting the number of viewers.