A new company specializing in ticket futures hopes to go where others could not by giving moderate-income fans the chance to secure championship seats on low weekly installments.
Conceived in 2009 but launched just this year, Ticket Score was built to serve the fan who hopes to go to his or her team’s big game but does not have hundreds or thousands of dollars up front to spend on the ticket. The fan pays over time toward that game and, if the team makes it, the fan has a ticket waiting.
Ticket Score users start by identifying their team and the championship game they hope to be attending for that team later in the season. Next, they agree to an installment plan determined for that team and that game and start making weekly payments. If at any time a fan loses hope that the team will make it to the game and decides to leave the plan, the contract is terminated and the fan owes no more on it, forfeiting all monies paid to that point. If the contract runs to the end and the team makes it, the fan receives a ticket solely on these weekly payments (i.e., there is no cost for the ticket above and beyond these scheduled payments) and at less than market value.
“From the start the mission was to create a fun and inexpensive method for the everyday fan to purchase tickets to championship sporting events,” co-founder and chief operating officer Charles Piccoli told TicketNews. “It’s a way for fans to get to the game at a fraction of the price people are charging on other sporting event ticket sites.”
Revenue is generated by these futures contracts with fans, and the company has plans to donate a portion of its earnings to The Boys and Girls Clubs of America. Initially using a pricing system in which fans would pay lower prices at the start of the season and increase their weekly investment as their teams start winning, the company is transitioning this week to a stable weekly payment for each team based on their chances of making it to the particular game.
Piccoli and co-founder Andrew Aschettino developed the idea for Ticket Score after Aschettino heard a 2008 radio ad for FirstDIBZ, the now-defunct ticket futures site which had fans making a down payment on the right to later buy a ticket. The pair thought this was a great concept, but they did not like the site’s expectation of big upfront payments on top of a face value payment for each ticket at the end.
“[Andrew] began thinking of a better system, and then approached me in early 2009 with an idea to let fans pay a small amount weekly over the season and opt-out at any time in order to control their risk and cost,” Piccoli said. “We both fell in love with the concept and started developing Ticketscore.com. After a ton of modeling and statistical analysis I think we have finally fulfilled that vision, as Ticket Score currently allows customers a shot at tickets that end up priced 75-95 percent below market.”
A great idea, but the bones of the concept have already been tried out in recent years, in some cases with disastrous results. FirstDIBZ, founded in 2001, specialized in selling “dibz”, or rights to buy and sell tickets to a future event. The company ran into trouble in 2009 when a seller on the secondary market allegedly sold and resold fraudulent “dibz” and the company had to cancel the fraudulent orders, leaving a group of customers out hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just this month, FirstDIBZ parent company The Ticket Reserve, Inc, reached a settlement with 752 members of a class action lawsuit spurred by the incident.
Founded in 2004, yoonew similarly sold ticket derivatives for sporting events. In 2005, the company nearly failed when prices for the Final Four skyrocketed and supply dried up, leading one of its founders to liquidate his 401K to supply tickets. In 2010, yoonew announced that it was ceasing operations because the bank that held its merchant account had gone bankrupt in the economic crisis, leaving the company unable to fulfill orders for 2010 Super Bowl tickets. At the time, The Ticket Reserve was also suing the company for patent infringement.
How does Ticket Score plan to avoid such pitfalls? “Well, I honestly feel like the concept is solid, and that these guys ran into some unfortunate circumstances,” Piccoli said. “I think the combination of these events ultimately sunk them, not the concept.
“As far as Ticket Score avoiding these problems: We will avoid yoonew’s fate because our system (patent pending) does not infringe on any FirstDIBZ patents. Further, since we don’t currently offer a secondary market, the fraud that FirstDIBZ experienced will not be possible at Ticket Score.”
The company also boasts a “back end” system which monitors the accumulation of customers for each team and then calculates the risk exposure for the company so that risk can be reduced immediately. The site also will not oversell ticket inventory, capping each team at half of their inventory for a particular event.
“We believe our system is far better than either of these predecessors,” Piccoli said. “The fact that you do not need to pay hundreds of dollars up front and can pay a small amount weekly is a game changer in ticket derivatives, as it truly allows you to control your cost and risk in a way previously not possible.”