The outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020 has posed several challenges to the sporting industry, caused by the change in behavior of sporting fans from purchasing event tickets to watching live broadcasts of events on the Internet. This study aims to gain a deeper understanding of fan behavior in this “new normal”. It adopts a technology acceptance model (TAM) to explore the effects of social presence (SP) in the context of online viewing of professional sports. For this purpose, the authors conducted an online survey of viewers who watched NBA sports events on the Amazon Mechanical Turk website using the Together Mode feature of Microsoft Teams. We collected 209 valid questionnaires and performed a partial least squares structural equation modeling analysis. The results showed that the SP-TAM structural model has adequate predictive relevance, and SP has a statistically significant positive relationship with both perceived ease of use and perceived usefulness. The model was thus validated, contributing to the existing body of knowledge on emerging technolo-gies such as the creation of a virtual audience in sports. The study’s findings suggest that technology developers should focus on the effects of SP and emphasize practical functions to increase the use intention of sporting fans. Furthermore, professional sporting leagues should prioritize the use of virtual fan technology to optimize the viewing experience of their fans.
ASJC Scopus subject areas