StubHub’s stockings are filled with tickets.

Stubhub Stockings Broadway TicketsI’ve never purchased tickets through StubHub.  But I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately (it was their advertising campaign that wormed its way into my brain – like a good advertising campaign should).

So today I decided to click on over to the site to see just what the heck was being hocked.

And would you look at that!  One of the shows they were selling (oh wait, sorry, StubHub’s attorneys would be quick to point out that StubHub doesn’t sell anything, it just connects people . . . you know, like Napster and LimeWire did before they were shut down for causing financial havoc to an industry) . . .  one of the shows they were “connecting” was mine!  Kinky Boots!

I was interested in seeing what people were paying for seats on this “connector” site, so I clicked on December 27th and . . .

What . . .

What the . . .

What the @$#%?

I know what you’re thinking . . . that I’m stutter-swearing because of the price of the tickets.  But noooooo.  I’m st-st-stutter-cussing because StubHub is currently listing 523 tickets for sale for that performance.

523!!!

We’ve got 1424 seats at The Hirschfeld.  That means 37% of the capacity for that one performance is on a secondary sales site.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I checked the availability of tickets for other shows on the same performance day (12/27).

Lion King has 508 tickets available.

Wicked has 338 tickets available.

Book of Mormon has 159 tickets (much smaller theater).

How is it that such a huge percentage of tickets are being sold on a secondary site?

Well, it may be because some of the tickets up there are dups . . . as Brokers sometimes put up seats (without specifying the exact locations) they don’t actually have yet but they know they can get from another source.  And then another broker puts up those same/similar seats because they know they can get them from the same source.

So there may be some dups.

But ok, let’s say that HALF of them are dups.  In the Kinky example, that would still be 18.5% of the house.  Or even a quarter of them would still be almost 10% of the house on one performance!

And even if there are dups . . . should there really be that many people trying to sell these seats away from the primary site?  And many of them DO actually have exact ticket locations on the site . . . shouldn’t we try and at least spot check some of these to see how they were acquired?  To see who is selling them?  To make sure the industry/artists/investors aren’t losing revenue that it should be receiving?

It’s a sticky wicket, because we do live in a free market society.  And if I buy something I don’t need anymore, or don’t want anymore, or just want to try and make a few bucks on, I should be able to sell it to someone who does need it/want it/or who wants to try and make a few bucks on it himself (that’s what the real estate market and any market is all about).

But something seems to have gone a little awry considering the amount of Broadway tickets that are available (even if many are just virtually available).

But what can be done?

Well, when Ticketmaster saw the incredible profit potential in the secondary market, it went out and bought TicketsNow . . . and now they have their own secondary market.

Think Telecharge will ever do the same?  Should they?  Should they not?  Let me hear ya . . .

 

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Comments
  • Matty says:

    How would the industry be losing money? They are RE-selling these tickets … meaning they’ve been purchased already, and the promoter, venue and artist get their share of that. If they’ve mispriced them so that the reseller can make some extra money, that’s their own fault. Reseller is taking all the risk here…not sure your complaint.

  • Tim says:

    Matty has a point. The secondary market is better than we are at finding that ‘actual’ value of a seat and has no compunction about selling them for that. ALSO they aren’t constricted by the (laws? ethics? honesty?) requirements to inform the buying public of all the price components (service charge, facility fees, convenience charges) that make Primary tickets look like a burden to the buying public. I’ve always thought that if PRIMARY Box Office tickets and SECONDARY market tickets could be on sale side by side with identical information, the public would win and so would Producers and Artists. Ticketmaster has put forward their solution in the form of TM+. I see THAT as our future. Unfortunately it’s a tough concept to sell to the establishment that’s still bent on trying to stamp out the brokers.

    Now doing something about some of the wild west practices of the brokers is another subject. They should NOT be allowed to sell something that doesn’t exist. Fake seat speculation hiding behind a policy that they can “change” the seats after they are purchased is outright lying to the public and should be stopped. And I would argue that it’s questionable that they should be allowed to sell something they don’t own, even though they might be able to get it after they’ve taken money for it. Maybe there ought to be a provenance law?

  • David Merrick Jr says:

    Ken,

    You are fighting a losing battle. As long as Producers sell tickets to the Public, there will be Brokers. The difference today is, the Public has also become the Brokers, beciase it’s so easy to flip tickets right over to StubHub. It’s not as easy as all that, and it is a risk as Matty writes.

    But the Genie is out of the bottle and it ain’t going back in…

  • KM, meet Broadway.com. Broadway.com, meet KM.

  • David Olson says:

    I’d rather be producing a show where people are profiting from reselling tickets than one where they are losing money or where seats go unsold. But 527 tickets is a mystery to me.

  • bbo says:

    ***To make sure the industry/artists/investors aren’t losing revenue that it should be receiving?***

    How does someone buying a ticket from the box office and then reselling on Stubhub lose revenue that the production should be receiving??

    Doesn’t make any sense

  • Jeff says:

    Napster and Limewire were selling stolen music and movies that had never been purchased in the first place. StubHub is selling tickets that were sold by the box office at the price the show set for those tickets. So, not a really fair comparison…

    I sold a show ticket on StubHub this week. I’m going on a cruise, and I had a front row, center, seat to The Jacksonian, which is nearly sold out for the day the cruise departs, and the prices went up $30 per ticket since the time I first purchased the ticket months back. So, I picked up my ticket at the box office, told them my issue, and asked if they wanted to refund my ticket and sell it for an extra $30. Guess what they said? “Sorry, no refunds or exchanges.”

    So, I sold it for $30 more (mainly to not lose money and that the StubHub fees would equal the overage). Most tickets I sell on StubHub are because of scheduling conflicts and strict box office policies, even when I offered the box office the chance to earn more money for the show and was rejected.

    You’re forgetting the fun part of StubHub, though. Go on there within an hour of showtime, and you can score some amazing deals, since their amazing ticket is about to become worthless, so they’d rather make something back, often less than face.

  • Carl White says:


    I have been reading this blog off and on for years. I first stumbled in to it as an aspiring playwright, hoping to learn a bit about how Broadway works.
    The reason I am only aspiring has been my workaholic career as a ticket broker and I have posted on this blog before about ticket prices, ticket brokers and scalpers.
    I think I know why Ken is so obsessed or at least concerned with the secondary market and it is simple emotions, jealousy, control and possessiveness.
    I do not mean this in a derogatory way, these are emotions we all deal with on a daily basis, but I have learned well about this phenomenon as a ticket scalper. Not as a ticket broker, I mean as one of the guys you pass outside buying and selling tickets on your way in to the event.
    As a broker, when someone comes in to my office, they have already accepted that I am going to make money, or at least try, off the tickets they own. But as a scalper you encounter a percentage of people that simply do not want to do business with you.
    Of course there can be many reasons but when you talk to people and they have an IQ high enough to formulate a reason besides the simplistic, “I don’t like scalpers” the reason you get far more than any is, “I don’t want anyone to make money off MY tickets.” The word they always stress is MY. When you continue to converse and debate with them, every response, every sentence will include a forceful MY.
    I have a little joke to try and take the edge off, “dude, I am trying to buy the tickets, not your lady, no need to be so possessive” or something to that effect.
    Ken is being possessive and controlling about HIS shows. HIS tickets are hopefully selling at the price he has set and he is getting every penny he expected to get from HIS tickets that do sell.
    BUT there are speculators out there that are continuing to make money, or at least trying, off HIS tickets and HIS shows and he is not getting any of that money and this has wormed its way into HIS brain.
    I could continue but I have faith Ken will eventually figure out how to put HIS brain at ease and instead of worrying about the secondary market, figure out how to capitalize on it because that is actually what has wormed its way in to HIS brain.

  • Steve says:

    Echoing Tim’s point-

    Ken say:
    Well, it may be because some of the tickets up there are dups . . . as Brokers sometimes put up seats (without specifying the exact locations) they don’t actually have yet but they know they can get from another source. And then another broker puts up those same/similar seats because they know they can get them from the same source.

    Ken should have said:
    Well, it may be that most of the tickets are not real inventory … as there are a lot of new, want-to-be Brokers putting up seats (without specifying the exact locations) they don’t actually have yet but they know they can buy from the primary ticket source because the show hasn’t sold out yet. If you get enough newbie/would-be Brokers advertising seats that don’t actually exist then the numbers become just as fictitious as the seats.

    If it resellers were all customers like Jeff or brick-and-mortar brokers like Carl reselling tickets they already purchased to last-minute shoppers, the numbers would still add up. Ken should take a look at how many tickets for his show are available on the secondary market before the primary market has sold, printed, or mailed even one ticket. He may even find tickets available for performances that are not scheduled.

  • Tony says:

    This is a free market we live in. If somebody really really wants something and is willing to pay more for it than someone else is, that creates an opportunity for someone to profit. The question is who gets to make the profit? The venue and the promoters can choose to raise their prices to make them harder to resell, but then they are taking on risk of prices being too high and having unsold tickets. I think these “brokers” are purchasing the tickets at full price and taking on the risk of having someone come along who really really wants it bad enough to pay more for it. And that’s what creates a fair market.

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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