In a meeting scheduled for this Wednesday, NFL owners are expected to vote on whether to end Ticketmaster’s exclusive hold on secondary ticketing, a deal that began in 2013 and runs until the end of next season.
The proposed deal would allow for a more open and accessible market, giving teams the power to choose their own ticketing partners. Sports Business Journal reports that according to multiple industry sources, Ticketmaster would retain “preferred” status as the primary ticket provider- with unspecified incentive for teams to use it- but teams would have full control over a designated “official” secondary partner. Those chosen secondary partners would be granted full integration with the primary partner, allowing for easy resale and transfer of tickets.
As of right now, all 32 teams save one use Ticketmaster for primary ticketing; the Detroit Lions use AXS. Ticketmaster’s own resale platform, Ticket Exchange, is the NFL’s official secondary partner.
Talk of opening up NFL ticketing has been circulating for months; TicketNews reported back in August on the league’s possible sales move, noting its probable motive of appealing to the millennial market. After all, if any demographic is willing to research and explore multiple outlets for the best deal on the web, it’s internet-savvy millennials.
However, the move would benefit than just the web-obsessed. Economic research has shown time and time again that the greater the distribution, the greater the competition, meaning more options and better prices. This was proven in NFL’s own market during last year’s Super Bowl, in which secondary markets saved fans $20 million across the board.
In facilitating a market that serves anywhere from 54,000 to 92,000 fans per game, Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation have become accustomed to the scope and demand of the NFL sales landscape. It remains unclear to what extent this termination would affect the ticketing giant, whose secondary business would undoubtedly take a hit.
But as SBJ points out, an open market has become a more favorable means of ticketing given a recent fall or plateau in attendance for many sports. Several Major League Soccer teams are partnered with SeatGeek, which makes seats available for purchase on multiple outside platforms.
If the vote passes, it will be interesting to see which secondary partners are picked up by teams, and how a more competitive market for NFL ticketing as a whole plays out.