The sports ticket market is booming, thanks in part to online ticket reselling on websites such as StubHub. Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism recently took a look at the site, and the secondary ticket market, and filed a video report that can be seen at here.
According to Forrester Research, by the end of 2008, consumers will spend almost $3 billion on tickets sold by online resellers, and nearly $2 billion of the sales will be for sports tickets.
Web sites such as StubHub, TicketsNow and Ticket Liquidator provide a nationwide venue for the resale of tickets. Depending on ticket demand for a particular sporting event, fans can purchase tickets on these or similar websites either below or above the ticket’s face value. Fans also have the opportunity to buy tickets to sold-out events, though often at a price well above face value.
As secondary ticket sellers have guaranteed the authenticity of any ticket purchased on their website, fans have embraced their business. According to the StubHub website, “StubHub guarantees all sport tickets bought or sold over this site, so make your transaction with the peace-of-mind that you’re getting the real thing.”
Yet despite fans publicly embracing the online secondary ticket market, it has come under fire from critics. Some point to online resellers often buying large numbers of tickets to select events, with the effect of driving up ticket prices. Others see the online reselling as glorified scalping. Most notably, the New England Patriots sued StubHub in 2006 for allegedly violating the team’s anti-scalping policies. StubHub was ordered to give the Patriots the names of more than 13,000 customers who bought and sold Patriots home tickets from November 2002-January 2007, and has issued subpoenas to ticket brokers. StubHub countersued, accusing the Patriots of monopolization and unfair trade practices. Both suits are pending.
Major League Baseball (MLB) has taken a different stance in regards to ticket resale Web sites. In a nod to their popularity and the growing legitimacy of these enterprises—especially as more states repeal or amend their anti-scalping laws—MLB signed a five-year deal with StubHub that makes the site the official secondary reseller for the league. StubHub president Chris Tsakalakis summed up this deal by saying that it indicates the degree to which “StubHub has become synonymous with tickets.”
While the legal issues remain to be solved, it seems certain that this new model of ticket selling is here to stay. Tsakalakis seems certain to claim as much when he and John Whelan, the director of Customer service for StubHub, attend Ticket Summit 2008 in Las Vegas, NV from July 23-28, the nation’s largest secondary ticket trade show and conference.