By Alfred Branch, Jr.

Ticketmaster and the National Football League today announced the two titans are teaming up to sell NFL tickets on the secondary market.

The deal, which TicketNews reported on earlier this month, calls for Ticketmaster to resell tickets from its TicketExchange website, which fans will be able to access from the NFL’s site and Ticketmaster’s. Specific financial terms were not disclosed, but the agreement spans multiple years, and could cost Ticketmaster an estimated $20 million in annual payments to the NFL.

For the past few years, Ticketmaster has watched as StubHub!, TicketsNow, TicketLiquidator and others have dominated the secondary market, which has threatened Ticketmaster’s overall standing as the world’s preeminent ticketer.

The question is whether fans will begin to gravitate to the TicketExchange over the other sites, something they have generally resisted so far, even though Ticketmaster already had deals with 18 teams prior to this new arrangement.

“The ticketing marketplace continues to evolve and sports fans demand more creative opportunities to experience our games. We will now be able to meet their expectations with our safe, consistent, and guaranteed service. The new partnership also will enable us to work with Ticketmaster to further develop fan-friendly ticketing programs and innovations,” Eric Grubman, the NFL’s Executive Vice President and President of NFL Ventures, said in a statement.

StubHub! and viagogo currently have deals with several teams for the next few years, and this new Ticketmaster/NFL deal will not unseat those agreements. Earlier this year, StubHub! and Major League Baseball cut a similar, exclusive deal, under which StubHub! is the official secondary ticketer for the league, but that deal came as a whole with all 30 MLB teams under the StubHub! umbrella at once.

“The league’s endorsement is very attractive,” said StubHub! spokesperson Sean Pate of the Ticketmaster/NFL deal, “but at the end of the day, is it going to drive more traction with the fans?”

StubHub! bid for the NFL contract, but Pate said that Ticketmaster landing the deal “doesn’t markedly change the landscape” because StubHub! still has agreements with several teams. “Unless this system has the same open, fan-friendly platform that StubHub! has, remains to be seen.”

“Fans expect and deserve to be able to resell their tickets in a safe, convenient and legal way,” Eric Korman, Executive Vice President of Ticketmaster, said in a statement. “We are thrilled that the NFL has entrusted Ticketmaster as its partner to provide to NFL fans everywhere the best possible resale experience. This is a great win for fans, who benefit from the unparalleled security and efficiency of our technology, which will connect the league, the majority of NFL teams, and millions of NFL fans around the country.”

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