By Eric Fisher & Ian Thomas, Staff Writers | Published February 6, 2017 -- The initial returns on Sporting Kansas City’s new open ticketing platform with SeatGeek have shown more mobile-based purchases, more new buyers into the system, and more sales volume overall.
The Major League Soccer club last week began single-game ticket sales using SeatGeek Open, the New York-based company’s new box office system that intends to link Sporting KC tickets to various third-party marketplaces and e-commerce destinations.
The rollout represents the first full implementation of a new open distribution system signed last summer that seeks to veer away from the traditional industry practice of pushing fans toward preferred ticketing platforms. Instead, ultimately fans can obtain tickets where they are already consuming content and engaging in commerce, such as travel sites, ride-sharing apps, fan blogs or social media platforms.
Sporting KC said its immediate rollout with SeatGeek Open generated more than 35 percent mobile-based purchases, more than quadruple the prior rate, a 46 percent increase in new buyers who hadn’t previously purchased Sporting KC tickets, and a 15 percent lift in total ticket sales compared to the start of last year’s on-sale cycle. The club’s season-ticket base, capped at 14,000 full-season equivalents, has already been migrated into the system.
“We’re very encouraged by what we’re seeing so far. There’s been a big uptick in activity overall and new folks coming in to our system, but also in the speed of transactions and conversion rates,” said Gregg Allen, Sporting KC vice president of ticket sales and service.
More broadly, the alignment with SeatGeek represents a key tool for MLS to attract younger fans and sell to them in a different fashion. On top of a league-level deal and the one with Sporting KC, the Portland Timbers recently signed a deal with the company. SeatGeek will be the Timbers’ official secondary ticketing partner starting immediately, and will take on primary ticket sales in 2019.
“Sporting KC is truly at the tip of the spear for us, and now with Portland on board, it’s yet another indication that this idea of open is something that is exciting to the marketplace,” said Kathy Carter, president of Soccer United Marketing, the league’s commercial arm.
“For us, it’s about how do we empower the future ticket buyers through technology, as opposed to telling them they have to come through us.”
SeatGeek is finalizing agreements with various ticketing outlets such as San Francisco-based Gametime to list Sporting KC tickets on those platforms, with rollout expected within the next several weeks.
“We’ve been very focused on the last-minute ticket market and targeting millennials, so the idea of an open architecture and a more open distribution plays perfectly with us,” said Colin Evans, Gametime chief revenue officer. “We’re very curious to see what the mix [of inventory] is going to be and how this unfolds.”
Ultimately, the goal is to list Sporting KC tickets, and those of other SeatGeek Open clients, on a wide array of ticketing, content, and e-commerce sites, and the digital platforms of club sponsors.
“We’re trying to create a whole different way to sell tickets,” said Russ D’Souza, SeatGeek co-founder and chief executive.