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NFL Considering Changes to Ticketmaster Secondary Ticketing Agreement

Wednesday, May 31, 2017   (0 Comments)

by Dave Brooks |
The National Football League is looking to change its secondary ticketing strategy and capture more revenue from sites like StubHub, Amplify has learned.

First reported by Sports Business Journal, sources say the NFL is eyeing the money made on sites like StubHub as its five-year secondary-ticketing sponsorship agreement with Ticketmaster comes to a close. That agreement, first signed in 2013, was at one time reported to be worth $200 million, although sources tell Amplify the number is inflated.

One proposal being floated — continue using Ticketmaster and TM+ as a platform to sell and distribute primary and secondary tickets, but require Ticketmaster to work with sites like StubHub to validate barcodes and manage inventory.

Could the two companies work together? Similar arrangements have existed for a number Major League Baseball teams, but an open framework where Ticketmaster would facilitate tickets for all 32 NFL teams to be sold on StubHub would certainly be unprecedented. But sources tell Amplify that Ticketmaster might be open to the idea since they never received the exclusivity they were hoping for with the 2013 agreement. Despite efforts to enforce exclusivity, season ticket holders and brokers continue to list NFL inventory on sites like StubHub and Vivid Seats.

Same goes for the NFL, who is seeing a high transactional volume on secondary sites like StubHub but aren’t receiving a cut of the profits. By requiring Ticketmaster to facilitate those transactions on StubHub, they are cutting themselves into a marketplace with more customers and inventory and a potentially larger payday. While Ticketmaster might not be crazy about working with their rivals at StubHub, they won’t be on the hook for a large upfront payment to lock in secondary ticket rights that were never actually exclusive.

What about primary ticketing rights — is the NFL looking for a new partner to sell more of its individual game tickets to a larger audience? Increased competition for consumer’s entertainment dollars have forced some content providers to rethink exclusive ticketing contracts, while sites like SeatGeek are betting big on open distribution with an April acquisition of TopTix, which was created with an open API system that allows rights holders within a dashboard to easily distribute tickets. Sporting KC of Major League Soccer is currently utilizing the SeatGeek Open system.

“What SeatGeek Open is doing in the MLS is getting massive interest from leagues and teams,” explained SeatGeek co-founder Russell D’Souza. “Teams are recognizing the importance of putting their tickets in more places and need technology like SeatGeek Open to do so.”

While Ticketmaster is generally considered to be a closed sales environment, the ticketing giant has struck a number of distribution deals in recent years with sites like Gametime, GroupOn and a reported future deal with Amazon that would put more tickets in more places. Beyond ticketing, the NFL also relies on Live Nation for help with content and is increasingly bringing stadiums large-scale concerts by acts like Beyonce, Coldplay, Guns N’ Roses and U2’s 2017 Joshua Tree tour. As one source tells Amplify, the relationship between the NFL and Live Nation is getting stronger and the two are working together more so than ever in the past.