In a big win for Ticketmaster, the primary ticketing giant has re-upped its five-year ticketing contract with the NFL and announced plans to provide the NFL with the first open architecture, fully digital ticketing system in sports.
The agreement could pave the way for the authorized sale of digital NFL tickets on StubHub, but nothing has been announced about a possible integration with the leading resale site. Officials with Ticketmaster tell Amplify that for now, Ticketmaster will only “validate tickets listed on other NFL licensed marketplaces” and the only currently licensed marketplace is Ticketmaster.com, which will be combining secondary and primary ticketing into a single purchase experience. Could StubHub potentially become a licensed NFL marketplace? Absolutely, and in a press release, TM hinted that “Ticketmaster will validate tickets listed on other NFL licensed marketplaces, giving fans greater access to authentic NFL tickets while reducing fraud and creating a safer ticket-buying experience for fans.”
There’s likely more news to come on the StubHub front — parent company eBay has an earnings call today at 2 p.m. PST where news might be forthcoming. For now, what we do know is that Ticketmaster’s contract with the NFL will transform the way the 32-team league handles its ticketing inventory, switching to an all-digital system that could potentially integrate with other sites like Amazon or Groupon. The initiative will give teams greater control over how tickets are bought and resold, and give teams a better idea of who is in their stadiums. Currently, 31 teams use Ticketmaster — the Detroit Lions utilize AEG-owned AXS Tickets.
The NFL will use Ticketmaster’s venue software Presence, and fans will use their smartphones or an RFID-chipped card to manage and gain access to their tickets.
“Ticketmaster will also have an expanded role as the preferred primary ticketing partner for the NFL, providing additional tools and services to each of the clubs and stadiums, and continuing to provide season ticket holders the exclusive ability to resell tickets directly through their season ticket account manager,” the company explained in a press release. “In addition, the system will provide NFL fans with even more mobile and online tools to be able to easily view, transfer and sell their digital tickets.”
So far about 50 venues throughout North America use Ticketmaster’s Presence system, which was rolled out in 2017. Sports Business Journal is reporting that NFL Senior VP/Club Business Development Brian Lafemina “said it was a ‘fair assumption’ the deal surpasses the more than $200M Ticketmaster paid during the prior five-year term,” and added that “NFL owners unanimously approved the deal earlier today (Oct.17) at their fall meeting in N.Y.”
“Ticketmaster Presence will help create smart venues and give fans easier, safer ways to attend events,” said Jared Smith, president of Ticketmaster North America in a statement provided to Amplify. “Delivering the definitive digital ticketing system provides content holders like the NFL powerful new tools to service their fans.”
The new agreement will take effect in the 2018-2019 season and Ticketmaster’s digital ticketing system will also be used for concerts and other events held at NFL stadiums.