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Playoff Uncertainty, Match Uncertainty and Attendance at Australian National Rugby League Matches


  •  The authors are grateful to Dan Farhat, Liam Lenten, two anonymous referees and participants at the Australian Conference of Economists ACE10, Sydney (September 2010), for helpful comments and suggestions on earlier drafts. They also thank Dan Farhat for advice on MATLAB coding.

Dorian Owen, Department of Economics, University of Otago, PO Box 56, Dunedin 9054, New Zealand. Email:


This article develops a new simulation-based measure of playoff uncertainty and investigates its contribution to modelling match attendance compared with other variants of playoff uncertainty in the existing literature. A model of match attendance incorporating match uncertainty, playoff uncertainty, past home team performance and other relevant control variables is fitted to Australian National Rugby League data for seasons 2004–2008. The probability of making the playoffs and home team success are more important determinants of match attendance than match uncertainty. Alternative measures of playoff uncertainty based on points behind the leader, although more ad hoc, also appear able to capture broadly similar effects on attendance to the playoff probabilities.