This might be the last Super Bowl where football fans can walk away with paper ticket stubs before the big game becomes an entirely mobile-only event.
According to a report from The Athletic, league and industry sources confirmed that the NFL is aiming to reach 10,000 mobile entries, which would double last season’s figures. By increasing the mobile entry numbers, the Tampa Super Bowl in 2021 will switch entirely to mobile-only entry. This would allow the NFL to not only wipe-out paper tickets, but completely control who can and can’t sell its product, affecting the secondary market. The mobile tickets would force fans to download its mobile platforms and apps while collecting personal data on fans who attend games.
Another source who is familiar with the NFL’s study of ticket control told Yahoo Sports that the league is thinking of ways to help the NFL make even more money. One source said that the league is engaging companies that have worked to develop ticket-selling algorithms that can help boost prices and sales online.
Mobile-only ticketing has become more and more popular over the past year. The NFL teamed up with its primary ticketing provider Ticketmaster to present its new “safetix” mobile-entry ticketing system. When the new system rolled-out this past September, fans reported delays caused by the mobile-only tickets. Local media covered reports from fans watching the Cleveland Browns, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, and Jacksonville Jaguars who said that mobile tickets caused a struggle on opening day. The “dynamic” barcode, which prevents users from taking a screenshot of the mobile ticket, caused many to stress when their phones had spotty service in the area.
Aside from opening day, fans faced other mobile-related issues throughout the year. For example, a Jets fan with a flip-phone was unable to attend the game when he didn’t have a mobile version of his ticket, and a Browns fan was unable to enter the stadium when her ticket wouldn’t load on her phone.
While fans can face multiple difficulties with mobile tickets – including losing their phone, not having internet connection, or their phone’s battery dying – another issue at hand is the mere idea of a tangible, paper ticket. Fans often like to collect their tickets to hold onto for memorabilia. A league source told The Athletic that the league is reportedly weighing the idea of issuing some sort of commemorative ticket to take the place of “stubs.”