The Complex Challenge of Spectator Demand: Attendance Drivers in the Danish Men’s Handball League
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Research question: A growing number of studies of professional team sports have tried to understand the drivers behind match-day attendance. However, no research has ever been conducted in relation to team handball. As existing literature mainly focuses on European football and US Major League sports, club managers from smaller sports lack the evidence that could assist them in developing strategies to increase attendance. This study is a step toward filling this gap. Research methods: Using robust panel data regression models deployed on data from Danish men’s team handball league matches in the seasons from 2011/12 to 2015/16, the study identifies the main determinants of spectator demand. Results and findings: The findings are largely consistent with existing research, but also reveal new insights that seem to be specific to handball. These include (1) negative effects on spectator demand due to simultaneous live television coverage of other league matches; (2) no obvious preferences for weekend matches and (3) weather-related factors, whereby rain has a positive effect and snow a negative effect, while variations in temperature have no effect. Implications: To maximize spectator attendance, we suggest that league managers and club representatives take the problem of simultaneous broadcasts from other league matches into consideration when planning the schedule in the future. Further, we argue that games should be placed in the time slots with highest spectator demand while recognizing that this can be club-specific. Finally, we recommend that clubs increase their efforts in promoting games involving strong away teams.