Officially sponsored scalping.

In 2008, the live event community went a little ballistic when ticketing giant Ticketmaster acquired its secondary market seller, TicketsNow, and tied the two sites together.  Can’t get tickets to a sold out event on TM?  Now they’ll direct you to TicketsNow, and they make money either way.

Of course, the other intention was to decrease the consumer’s dependency on other brokers by being able to satisfy all of their customer’s needs.  TM knew that customers were going and always will go to brokers, so by acquiring one, they stepped a little closer to every business’s goal . . . to never turn away a customer.

It’s a good strategy, but you can also see why a lot of folks would be POed, especially with the already high service fees, a difficult ticket-buying experience, etc.  (Check out this article about the settled lawsuit over “deceptive” fees.)  With the addition of TicketsNow, they’d be making money on above-face-value tickets (would more go to the artists?), and with merger of Ticketmaster and LiveNation, a lot of folks were concerned that when concerts produced/promoted by TM were getting close to selling out, they’d move the remaining ticketing assets over the TicketsNow and make them even more expensive.

Lots of tricky wickets in this one.

That’s why I was intrigued to see a new website promoted by the NFL called

The theory is again . . . a good one.  People are going to need to sell tickets.  People are going to want to buy tickets.  Like the old parenting trick, the NFL decided that they would rather have its buyers trading tickets in their own backyard . . . rather than someone else’s (meaning, another broker).

So they sanctioned and now promote a swapping site through their own domain.  But a quick view of that link above will show that it’s, of course, run by Ticketmaster/TicketsNow.

Interesting, right?

I like the approach.  If you know your customers are going to behave a certain way, why not figure out a way they can do so within your brand? I just hope (and assume) that the ball clubs are getting a share of that marked up upside on TicketsNow.

Because tickets are only valuable when there is something to be seen.

I’m not sure there will be a Broadway ticket exchange anytime soon, because we’ve got a number of other ticketing issues to tackle first.

But there will be . . . and should be . . . because there’s a reason why TicketsNow was one of the fastest growing companies in 2006 and was acquired by Ticketmaster for $265 million.

Whether we like it or not, this is an option our customers want.  And we can choose to give it to them, or just give it away.


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  • Eric Grunin says:

    I’m not sure I understand your position here.
    Let’s say Godspell is a sell-out smash, and you raise the top price so the bonus goes to you instead of the scalpers. Fine.
    But you keep a block of tickets cheap, because you want to keep the students coming, partly because they’re great PR and partly because they’re the full-price audience for your *next* production. Fine.
    But when the scalpers show up asking 3x face value, do you really want to keep that “within your brand”? Won’t that lose you all your positive PR?

  • It’s nothing official but @BroadwaygirlNYC maintains @BroadwayTrader – a place where fans can buy and sell tickets, merch, etc. It isn’t too popular yet but people are definitely using it. It would be interesting to see it on a larger scale through an official ticketing site.!/broadwaytrader

  • I believe this is something the Yankees have been doing for while- they formed a partnership with StubHub for “aftermarket” ticket sales which works both ways- for buyers and sellers. This insures they will get to make money on a higher portion of tickets being sold to their games- whether or not the StubHub tickets are more- or even less- than face value.
    From a business standpoint, it clearly makes a lot of sense for the Yankees to do this and to promote the official relationship they have with StubHub.

  • Donald Jordan says:

    AT our regional theater we offer a discounted “Flexpass” instead of a season ticket…in exchange for the flexibility of coming to any show, the audience gives up the right to a specific reserved seat. What if Broadway offered a ticket like that to help combat the great expense of tickets…you buy a flexticket to GODSPELL for example for $50 bucks…and you call the Box Office or come by and see what is available…the ticket doesn’t expire, so it can be used 6 months later…what do you think?

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