by Rohan Rao
Recently, organizations such as the NCAA have been attempting to increase viewership of tennis by implementing rule changes to reduce the length of the individual matches. The logic behind these changes is to increase the relative importance of each point making the overall experience more exciting. I think this is a particularly interesting problem for the sport of tennis, which is currently fighting falling ratings (losing 1.4 million viewers this year for the men’s U.S. Open finals) but is increasing the uncertainty of games the best way to gain viewership or increase the excitement of the sport? The process for determining which rule changes lead to more viewers can be a complicated question; however, I would say that by statistically examining the shot selection across a variety of tournaments and players, we can get an alternate and useful metric to determine how exciting or interesting a match is, which could provide some insight into the issue.
This paper has also been translated into Italian here.