The news in April that the NFL have renewed a deal with Ticketmaster for secondary ticketing sponsorship (estimated worth $200 million over the next five years) shows that the League’s management are happy to profit from the competition that exists within the secondary market. The main player in the secondary market for NFL tickets at the moment remains StubHub, who dominate the market throughout US sports; yet Ticketmaster, who originally struck up a deal with the League back in 2008, have made advances, with their TicketExchange service believed to hold a 20% share.
A clause in the new deal states that rivals of TicketExchange will be afforded NFL advertising space for only specific and – crucially – non-football events. So although fans can still use alternative sites to buy or sell secondary NFL tickets, TicketExchange will benefit from exclusive promotion and advertising by the League. Should the venture see significant growth, there are plans for a revenue-sharing system between the NFL and Ticketmaster that should help the latter build a monopoly over the market.
This is the stuff of nightmares for main competitors such as StubHub and the host of small independent brokers who are likely to see their share squeezed. However the emergence of broker-directory sites, that enable customers to compare ticket prices for the same event across a number of different sites before making their choice, will mean that those offering the best deal should still be able to compete.
Compare ticket prices for the primary and secondary market in the NFL and you begin to understand why the League, and Ticketmaster, are so eager to secure deals that allow them a slice of that lucrative secondary pie. But whether smaller sized companies will be able to compete financially with the bigger players in the secondary ticket market is doubtful in light of Ticketmaster’s deal with the NFL, which could spell the end for all but the big boys at the top.
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