Pretty Players, Please

Fox News reports that during the early rounds at Wimbledon, a lot of second-level, but good-looking female tennis players have been on Center Court, while some of the stars have been relegated to side courts.

An event organizer noted, “It’s not a coincidence that those (on Center Court) are attractive.”

Not at all. The price of TV rights is based on viewership, so the sponsors want to maximize it: “Our preference would always be a Brit or a babe, as this always delivers high viewing figures.”

The product sold is a combination of good tennis and beauty — and consumer satisfaction is increased by more of both. Event planners would like the top-seeded players to be the most beautiful; absent that correlation, they believe customers are willing to trade off some tennis quality to watch more attractive players. Are they catering to customer discrimination, or are they merely indulging consumer preferences? Tough question, and one I explore at great length in my forthcoming book, Beauty Pays.


mfw13

And that's precisely why most people have lost interest in women's tennis...i.e. because the players seem to care more about their off-the-court activities, such as partying and product promotion, than they do about playing good tennis.

The quality of women's tennis is at an all-time low, and the only two truly good players (the Williams sisters) play very few tournaments and often show up for non-majors out of shape and disinterested.

Never mind the grunting or lack of net play...

Norman Eng

We already know that for men in the U.S., stature counts --look at the relative heights of our CEOs, U.S. presidents, and even models, and one would be hard pressed to find anyone under 5'9" or 5'10". The fact that beauty counts for females in any industry is hardly surprising. Both examples only reaffirm the fact that our biological and Darwinian nature cannot be denied, despite our laudable efforts at an egalitarian society.

Raj Pandravada

Notice the careful verbiage: "...Brit or a babe..."

The sponsors are resigned, rather uncharitably, I might add, to the fact that the contingency of these two descriptors intersecting is quite remote.

Viewing figures...aside from the double entendre, here's my take: I'd much rather watch attractive play by an unattractive player, than unattractive play by an attractive player

Phew.

Nosybear

At least they're honest about it.

Dave

It is ironic that Wimbledon has cultivated a prestigious tradition and consistent branding, which has primarily been unfavorable to commercial sponsors. In this tournament the organizers are conceding that they compromise the value of the sport in order to market the product.

brian

fully on board with the views expressed in poster #1...

Aaron Knoll

I should point out that I enjoy watching women's tennis more than men's tennis, not for beauty nor the skill (though it is undoubtedly there in the latter case)- but because of the effort. The top women players let balls fly pass them a lot less regularly, and more likely to at least challenge every return rather than the men who seem content to let the ball fly pass them and just get it next time. There's a wider diversity of playing style as well among the women. So there are other reasons why people might like watching women's Tennis.

A. Man

I don't care at all about tennis, but I will stop and watch a few minutes if I see an attractive woman on the court.

athelas

Here is a way for women to make money that is closed off to men of equal tennis ability.

Rob

@Aaron

The ball is a lot more likely to fly by impossibly fast in a men's game. I guess it's harder to distinguish on TV, but the men's game is far faster than the women's, helping make it a bigger spectacle.

Martin

"Are they catering to customer discrimination, or are they merely indulging consumer preferences? "

Customer discrimination and consumer preferences are the same thing.

frankenduf

same with the men's- federer/roddick was the cosmetic matchup- if ivanicevich was there, it would have been the grandstands for sure
and rob- clock a venus serve before you boast how much faster the men are

PaulD

As my wife and daughters would tell you, I'm not one to take up the feminist banner very often, but here I have to protest. Should Maria Sharapova get more product endorsements than Plain Jane tennis player? Yes, because I'm sure she sells products. Should she get preferential placement at Centre Court? No. On the court it should be a matter of tennis-playing ability. Period.

Freddy J. Nager

Aren't these the same criteria used by Fox News to cast its female newscasters?

Perry

Women's tennis has reached salary equality to Men's tennis (at Wimbledon at least) because viewers, and the sponsorship dollars that they create, derive an equivalent amount of entertainment value as the Men's game. And lets not kid around, all paid professional sports base their compensation on entertainment above sport.

It certainly may be a Faustian bargain but if top Women's players can get equal monetary treatment as top Men's players because Wimbledon shuffled around Centre vs Court 1 matches, I think it a relatively small price to pay.

notdeadyet

Venus has been clocked at 129, Roddick at 155

David Chowes, New York City

Of course advertisers would want exposure on TV for "hot" female tennis players. Very attractive women equals higher rarings and ergo, greater revenue for the networks.

A great example: it is admitted that ANNA KOURNIKOVA was never highly seeded.

Yet, because she is considered a real "babe," the visual attention paid to her was over the top.

mike

yup. mens game is a lot faster than the womens game. 155mph for roddicks serve. Venus 130mph. fastest forehand winners for women are in the 90's and for men in the 100's. so its really no comparison.

Thalia

Roddick has the fastest serve clocked, at 155. But on average men's game isn't faster. "At Wimbledon in 2008, Venus Williams' average first serve speed was 115 mph (185 km/h) in the quarterfinal, 116 mph (187 km/h) in the semifinal, and 111 mph (179 km/h) in the final. She also had a higher average serving speed than then World No.1 Roger Federer as well as eventual men's champion Rafael Nadal." (from Wikipedia)

In the frst rounds the top seeds often outclasses their opponent. This takes under and hour and is boring to watch.

So a game between a 10 seed and a 20 seed is more promising than a game of the top seed against a nobody. Simply because more equal players gives better more exiting matches.