By Alfred Branch, Jr. A day after news that Liberty Media may try to acquire Ticketmaster, it appears as if the world’s largest ticketing...

By Alfred Branch, Jr.

A day after news that Liberty Media may try to acquire Ticketmaster, it appears as if the world’s largest ticketing company is poised to land the biggest whale in the sports marketplace, the National Football League.

Ticketmaster stands to become the official ticket reseller for the NFL through Ticketmaster’s TicketExchange program, according to Businessweek. The deal is vaguely similar to the one forged this summer between StubHub! and Major League Baseball, and calls for Ticketmaster to pay the NFL an estimated $20 million annually for the privilege of being the official broker.

But, is the deal a good one for Ticketmaster? Not really, one industry observer told TicketNews. Ticketmaster already has contracts with 18 NFL teams to be their authorized ticket reseller, but none of those teams, nor Ticketmaster, has made much of a splash in the secondary market. In addition, StubHub! and have contracts with several other teams that run for several more years.


“Ticketmaster is desperate,” the broker said. “Their ranking in the secondary market is nowhere.” The company is about to be spun off by parent company IAC/InterActiveCorp, so a deal with the NFL could help make the company more attractive.

Ticketmaster did not return a message seeking comment, but Sean Pate, spokesperson for StubHub!, told TicketNews that until the deal is officially announced, StubHub! remains one of the handful of companies bidding on the NFL contract.

“Ticketmaster already has deals with 18 teams to be their TicketExchange and their traction and adoption has been minimal,” Pate said. “This deal might secure them a few more deals for 2008 but they will not have any exclusive rights in the secondary market until current contracts with others expire. Similarly, if StubHub were to win this bid it effectively would be great affiliation for us but not substantially augment the business in the near term.”

Pate declined to elaborate on StubHub’s bid, but considering the company’s legal tussle with the New England Patriots over ticket reselling, and the fact that Patriots owner Robert Kraft is on the NFL’s Business Ventures Committee which is overseeing the secondary deal, StubHub! would appear to have a tough road toward approval.

“This will have no bearing on us or our contract with the Cleveland Browns,” Eric Baker, CEO of, told TicketNews. “It’s as if Ticketmaster is getting the ‘N’ and ‘F’ but not the ‘L’ in this deal.”

Last Updated on March 17, 2009 by Alfred Branch Jr.