As the kickoff for the National Football League looms, the league and its fans prepare for what is currently planned to be the final year of any sort of non-digital ticketing, according to the latest edition of Sports Business Journal. 2018 will be a transition year, with about half of the league’s teams – 14 – offering exactly zero options to get into a game outside of a digital ticket. The remaining franchises have some option for season ticket holders to opt in for a printed “hard” ticket, but that option will disappear beginning in 2019 if everything goes to plan.
“Fans are still getting used to all this and so are we,” Baltimore Ravens senior vice president of ticket sales and operations Baker Koppelman told SBJ’s Eric Fisher. “We’re really looking at this transition as a two-year process, so our feeling was that the more time we gave ourselves to work through that, the better.”
As the quote indicates, the Ravens were an early adopter of paperless ticketing systems and are restricting fans to mobile-only tickets or ticket cards issued to PSL-holders. Exactly zero teams are allowing PDF distributed print-at-home tickets in 2018.
According to SBJ, approximately two thirds of the league’s teams will have Ticketmaster’s touted “presence” system installed this year, with the entire league slated to have it operational by 2019. That shift away from barcode entry carries a presumed dual purpose – a wealth of information for the teams, league, and Ticketmaster’s marketing departments to harvest from personal user data tied to the mobile devices used for entry to these stadiums, as well as the ability to further throttle the transfer of purchased tickets to NFL-approved (and paid for) marketplaces.
To that end, tonight is the full launch of the NFL’s “open” ticketing system, which includes integrations by both StubHub and SeatGeek with Ticketmaster for resale, as well as SeatGeek’s primary partnerships with both the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints. All will be sharing user data (presumably) with all involved, providing a comprehensive database of buyer behavior and future marketing opportunities.
“The ability to track and understand your attendees is a huge benefit,” Ticketmaster senior VP and general manager of the company’s NFL operations told SBJ.
NFL Week 1 Schedule
1:00 PM – Buffalo Bills at Baltimore Ravens (CBS)
1:00 PM – Jacksonville Jaguars at New York Giants (Fox)
1:00 PM – Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New Orleans Saints (Fox)
1:00 PM – Houston Texans at New England Patriots (CBS)
1:00 PM – San Francisco 49ers at Minnesota Vikings (Fox)
1:00 PM – Tennessee Titans at Miami Dolphins (Fox)
1:00 PM – Cincinnati Bengals at Indianapolis Colts (CBS)
1:00 PM – Pittsburgh Steelers at Cleveland Browns (CBS)
4:05 PM – Kansas City Chiefs at Los Angeles Chargers (CBS)
4:25 PM – Seattle Seahawks at Denver Broncos (Fox)
4:25 PM – Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers (Fox)
4:25 PM – Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals (Fox)
8:20 PM – Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers (NBC)