Spectator Age and Periodic Changes in Game Viewership: An Application of Positivity and Life-Span Theory in the National Football League


  • Scott Tainsky Wayne State University Mike Ilitch School of Business
  • Jie Xu




Sport, demand, market segmentation, football, television, age, positivity, life span


This study examines the factors that influence sport broadcast viewership, explor-ing the relationship between spectator age, time remaining in the season, and team success. We identify the determinants of demand for two different age groups— youth and older adults—and analyze differences in the impact of team quality and playoff probability on viewership during midseason games and those during the stretch run of the season. Ordinary least squares models are used to estimate the effects and Wald tests to establish differences between groups. Our models show local team quality increased viewership by a greater margin for youth than older adults for midseason games as well as those during the stretch run. By contrast, only adult viewership increased in response to increased playoff probability, and only during the stretch run. The combination of results presents some ambiguity with respect to applying the conventional wisdom on the dynamics of age, time horizon, and positivity in the sport context.