As expected, the NFL and Ticketmaster have announced an extension of their deal that makes the Live Nation Entertainment-owned ticketing vendor the league’s official ticketing partner. The deal retains Ticketmaster’s system as the core of its ticketing exchange, and continues the forced use of mobile-only ticketing for the overwhelming majority of teams and venues.
“We are focused on building next generation fan experiences,” said Bobby Gallo, NFL Senior Vice President of Club Business Development. “Ticketmaster’s technology and distribution platform lead the industry; but, more importantly, they are laser-focused on driving future innovation. This makes them an ideal ticketing partner for the NFL.”
The introduction of new technologies and digital enhancements across the fan experience are a key component of the partnership extension.
“The NFL relies on Ticketmaster for our technology leadership,” said Clay Luter, Ticketmaster Executive Vice President and Co-Head of Sports. “We are actively exploring a number of emerging technologies, looking ahead to the 2022 season to launch some pioneering innovations we think have the opportunity to take the fan experience to the next level.”
The length of the contract extension was not announced, but it was previously reported as being for another four years after the 2022 season. SeatGeek and StubHub remain partners in the “open” ticketing system, with SeatGeek additionally serving as the primary ticket vendor for three teams – the Dallas Cowboys, New Orleans Saints, and Arizona Cardinals. Ticketmaster is the primary ticket vendor for the league’s other franchises.
In its announcement of the extended deal, Ticketmaster touted the continued push for mobile-only as central to the partnership. The reversal of a system with several ticket formats open to consumers to one where almost all tickets are locked to the Ticketmaster system has happened practically overnight – 97% of stadium entry for NFL games in 2021 was via digital tickets, compared to around 10% in 2017. With that shift comes an enormous volume of consumer data that can be sold, and the ability to tightly control ticket resale or transfer and the setting of minimum price floors on officially sanctioned marketplaces – despite the league agreeing to stop setting them after multiple lawsuits.
“The live events industry is entering a dynamic era. Advancements in digital technology are going to rapidly accelerate enhancements to the fan experience,” said Gallo. “Ticketmaster is the partner to lead us on that journey. And, they have the capabilities and reach to deliver at the scale required by the NFL.”