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Putting a price on popularity: Evidence from superstars in the National Basketball Association

Scott M. Kaplan

Economic Inquiry, 2022, vol. 60, issue 3, 1357-1381

Abstract: This study estimates spectator willingness‐to‐pay (WTP) for superstars in the National Basketball Association. Using microdata from an online secondary ticket marketplace and player absence announcements, I find 4%–22% ($4–$41) reductions in prices when superstars are announced to miss games. Additionally, LeBron James and Stephen Curry exhibit larger impacts in away games: 21% ($73/ticket) for James and 18% ($50/ticket) for Curry. The findings suggest popularity is a better predictor of WTP than productivity, and in line with existing superstar literature, popularity predicts price impacts convexly. This study provides a novel methodology to estimate superstar value, generating implications for the entertainment industry.

Date: 2022
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