Eric Baker of Talks to

Eric Baker of Viagogo is bringing it to AmericaBy Alfred Branch, Jr.

Eric Baker is coming home.

The founder and CEO of U.K.-based secondary ticketer, and founder and former president of StubHub! is expanding Viagogo into the U.S. with a new deal to become the authorized secondary ticket seller for the Cleveland Browns. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is reportedly a multi-year agreement.

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In an interview with TicketNews, Baker said the arrangement marks the first of what could be several deals with U.S. sports teams, concert promoters or venues and stadiums, but he was quick to add that such deals are not necessary for the company’s success in the States.

“We’re very happy with our progress in the U.K., Germany and Europe, but we saw a tremendous opportunity in the U.S. market as the tickets industry becomes more of a global marketplace,” Baker said. . .

He estimates the U.S. secondary ticketing market at about $12 billion annually, but he said his former company StubHub! controls less than 10 percent, even though it’s the dominate player in the market. With more than 90 percent of the market up for grabs, and with anti-scalping laws crumbling throughout the country, Baker believed it was high time Viagogo made its move. In addition to the Browns deal, the company also recently partnered with the NBA as the exclusive secondary ticketer for the basketball league’s October showcase game in Europe between the Celtics and the Timberwolves.

Baker said the European secondary market, while generally more restrictive than its U.S. counterpart, is comparable to the U.S. at about $9 billion annually.

The company was eager to throw a touchdown with an NFL team because it is the premiere sports league in the U.S., and it already resells tickets to several NFL games. Viagogo chose to work with the Browns specifically because the team did not have a secondary resale partner, but also because Baker believes the team’s owner, Randolph Lerner, harbors progressive policies as it relates to marketing. In addition, he viewed the Cleveland sports landscape as an attractive market to penetrate because of the Indians and Cavaliers.

“We believe there is an opportunity for a lot of people to do well because this is a rapidly shifting industry,” Baker said, “and primary ticket sellers haven’t been able to capitalize on the secondary market.”

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