Over the past few years as it has surveyed the event ticketing landscape, Ticketmaster knew it needed to try to stave off the onslaught of competition from the likes of StubHub!, TicketsNow, RazorGator and TicketLiquidator.com. It’s TicketExchange reselling program wasn’t driving the kind of traffic to its door the way it had hoped, so desperate to join the party, Ticketmaster recently struck secondary ticketing deals with the NFL and NHL to become the official ticket reseller in these markets, adding to their already existing deal with the NBA. The other major sport in the U.S., Major League Baseball, already has a contract with StubHub!.
How the three reselling deals turn out with the three major sports leagues remains to be seen. Ticketmaster’s owner, IAC/InterActiveCorp, has announced plans to spin off the ticketer, making it apparent that gaining traction in the secondary ticket market is vital to the continued success of the business, especially with its contract to sell tickets to LiveNation events being non-renewed. It will be a daunting task, because while Ticketmaster is the official ticket reseller for these leagues, there is no way for the company to purchase exclusive reselling rights, and thus ticket resale leaders remain in business with their large customer bases.
In fact, many NFL teams currently have resale contracts with StubHub! or viagogo.com, and Ticketmaster’s exclusive rights do not begin until those contracts expire, but their estimated $20 million annual payment for the privilege will not.
“StubHub! was naturally interested in a relationship with the NFL, however the financial terms of the deal didn’t add up for us,” Sean Pate, spokesperson for StubHub! told TicketNews. “Buying habits for reselling NFL tickets have largely been established and StubHub is the market leader. For example, the Dallas Cowboys, a current Ticketmaster partner, have one of the most vibrant TicketExchange platforms of any, yet the Cowboys rank as the best selling NFL team on StubHub this season with over 50,000 tickets sold. StubHub’s has had as much as ten times the selection of the Cowboys TicketExchange this year, and currently has thousands of postseason tickets on sale where Cowboys TicketExchange offers none. It’s readily apparent where NFL fans are shopping for their tickets.”
Ticketmaster has been aggressive in its recent moves, but it is the firm’s best chance of trying to catch up. The alternative stagnation was unacceptable, and now Ticketmaster has become a leading name in the sport ticket resale market. The deals could be worth their cost if Ticketmaster can successfully slingshot its way into leading the market that it neglected for too long.