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StubHub to join NFL secondary market

StubHub to join NFL secondary market

By Eric Fisher, Staff Writer

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StubHub has signed a five-year deal with the NFL to become the league’s authorized secondary ticket partner, marking the first major outgrowth of the NFL’s recently approved open ticketing partnership with Ticketmaster.

San Francisco-based StubHub will become a “gold partner” within the league’s new ticketing framework, getting full integration into the Ticketmaster-powered digital system to be installed across the league, along with use of some league marks and a designation as the league’s preferred secondary ticketing provider.

The NFL-StubHub agreement does not preclude other resellers from also becoming part of the league’s ticketing framework, and NFL executives said they still intend to have a broad array of partners involved. But StubHub will receive exclusive rights to market itself as an “authorized” resale marketplace for NFL tickets, with the league not planning to grant that nomenclature to other resale outlets it integrates with Ticketmaster’s primary ticketing.

The StubHub-NFL agreement begins with the 2018 season.
“This is an historic transition being led by the NFL to integrate Ticketmaster with the largest secondary marketplace in the business,” said Perkins Miller, StubHub general manager of North America. “There are still a lot of points of friction for the fan in ticketing, and we think we’ve done a lot here to reduce that friction.”

The agreement, beginning with the 2018 season, arrives as NFL owners last week unanimously approved a new five-year extension of the league’s long-standing relationship with Ticketmaster. The new deal calls for Ticketmaster to retain rights as the league’s preferred primary ticketing partner, and be the foundation of a new open ticketing system based on its emerging Presence digital ticketing technology.

But the unprecedented levels of cooperation between longtime and often bitter rivals StubHub and Ticketmaster for NFL ticketing represent a seismic sea change for the entire industry. Despite holding official rights with the league for the past decade, Ticketmaster has seen its resale market share badly trail StubHub’s in many local NFL markets, in turn serving as a source of competitive interplay between the two companies.

The new NFL structure instead establishes a framework for the two to fully co-exist, and both the Ticketmaster and StubHub agreements cover the 2018-22 seasons.

“A lot of our fans have preferred to buy on StubHub, and we believe this combined platform is what’s best for our fans, and ultimately what’s best for the industry,” said Brian Lafemina, NFL senior vice president of club business development.

The financial terms of the ticketing deals were not disclosed. But Lafemina said it was a “fair assumption” the Ticketmaster pact was in excess of the more than $200 million the company committed for the five-year term that was scheduled to end next year. Teams also are expected to receive an undisclosed financial incentive to remain with Ticketmaster for primary ticketing. Thirty-one of 32 NFL teams currently are with Ticketmaster, with the Detroit Lions aligned with AXS. Both Ticketmaster and StubHub will provide transactional data for use by the NFL and individual teams.

The NFL digital ticket integration also reduces a significant cost for StubHub in terms of processing paper tickets and covering losses from fraudulent tickets. When a buyer purchases the verified NFL ticket inventory through StubHub, a new digital ticket for entry will be created, thematically similar to how Ticketmaster’s Ticket Exchange has operated within its own system and how StubHub has integrated at numerous colleges through an alliance with Paciolan.

“This partnership really allows us now to move our expenses to places where we can really elevate the customer experience,” Miller said.


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