StubHub, Major League Baseball close to another renewal of secondary ticketing partnership

StubHub, Major League Baseball close to another renewal of secondary ticketing partnership

By Eric Fisher, Staff Writer


Fresh off its major five-year deal to become an authorized secondary ticket partner of the NFL, StubHub is now nearing a large-scale contract renewal with Major League Baseball.

Unlike the last MLB-StubHub renewal in 2012, marked by tense talks and immediate opt-outs by the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the latest round of talks has been much more placid.

StubHub earlier this summer became fully integrated on ticket resales with all 30 MLB clubs, the first time that has happened in a decade of working with the league. And the league holds a productive working relationship with Scott Cutler, senior vice president of StubHub parent eBay, and Perkins Miller, StubHub North America general manager.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred will be presented with various contract options in the next two weeks, and the StubHub renewal will be discussed at the quarterly owners meetings set for next month in Orlando. The current deal, covering the 2013-17 seasons, formally expires in December.

“It’s close, but there is still work to do,” said Bob Bowman, MLB president of business and media, of a renewal. “But we certainly want to be mindful of our partners, and they’ve been great partners.”

The two sides did not detail the specifics of the contract term being developed, but it is again expected to include certain controls and fee structures to prevent sub-$1 tickets from appearing on the marketplace. StubHub is expected to retain its status as the official fan-to-fan ticket marketplace of MLB.com.

The MLB-StubHub relationship, dating to 2007, was an industry trailblazer when it was first struck, helping pave the way for dozens of other official ticket resale partnerships throughout the sports industry. And as ticketing overall goes through seismic changes such as the growth of fully digital and mobile-focused systems tied to deep troves of consumer data, the alliance is expected to remain a bellwether for the business. No other sport sells as many tickets as baseball due to the everyday nature of its schedule.

StubHub executives declined to comment. But industry sources said some of the additional issues of prime importance in a new term include moving the MLB partnership more toward a mobile-first execution, and heightening StubHub’s exclusive marketing assets amid a more dynamic and competitive ticketing landscape.

Coast to Coast