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  1. Thank you for this! I was desperate to see an article on this topic here.

    Comment by Ari N — December 12, 2012 @ 1:01 pm

  2. Good read Wendy, I’ve had my issues with ticket resellers myself, but mostly in combating ‘bots’ going out and buying up all the tickets for big games and then charging up to 5x the face value. Did StubHub or Ticketmaster address any of these concerns?

    Comment by Stuck in a slump — December 12, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

  3. Look market value is going to be established for these tickets whether MLB teams like it or not. I would teams like the Yankees would welcome Stubhub so they can have at least some involvement in the process. Don’t understand why the Yanks try so hard to play in front of empty stadiums.

    I watched a 3 game series at Yankee Stadium against my Jays and didn’t pay over 10$ for a ticket off Stubhub. Awesome.

    Comment by Petetown Matt — December 12, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

  4. Look market value is going to be established for these tickets whether MLB teams like it or not. I would think teams like the Yankees would welcome Stubhub so they can have at least some involvement in the process. Don’t understand why the Yanks try so hard to play in front of empty stadiums.

    I watched a 3 game series at Yankee Stadium against my Jays and didn’t pay over 10$ for a ticket off Stubhub. Awesome.

    Comment by Petetown Matt — December 12, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

  5. I love StubHub. In the past 2 years every Brewers or Bucks game I’ve attended I either used StubHub or bought scalper tickets.

    Comment by Jake W. — December 12, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

  6. Lower fees for buyers is good news (minimum fee down from ~$10 to ~$5).

    I assume that the fee to sell remains unchanged at a % of the listed sale price (15% if I remember correctly).

    Comment by Anon — December 12, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  7. So this StubHub deal hurts teams that either have trouble selling tickets in the first place, or price them too high. Sounds like a free market to me, which I’m guessing teams don’t mind when it comes to lucrative TV deals. Just not when it comes to letting fans attend your games. Cool.

    Comment by Aaron Lehr — December 12, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  8. This is great information, Wendy. I have benefitted and suffered from all these policies, sometimes getting $2 tickets to see Timmy vs Kennedy in 2010-2011 on a Tuesday night, but also paying a 10% fee for high-priced tickets, e.g. the impossible-to-predict late season Sunday Night game. I see the basis for having a maximum buyer fee for low price tickets, but how the hell on earth can they justify a 10% fee for more and more expensive seats to either buyers or sellers? What they provide is the same for sellers or buyers whether the ticket is $5 or $500, yet they get $3 or $50 from buyer AND seller for these two transactions, and I think it’s preposterous to pay such a high fee for any ticket and there should be a maximum fee for high-priced tickets as well, Giants and StubHub be damned.

    Comment by JWTP — December 12, 2012 @ 1:43 pm

  9. As a Red Sox fan – I absolutely hate stubhub & other reselling market places because my team doesn’t have enough tickets to sell or they are all purchased by “businesses” almost as soon as tickets are available. I have never been able to go to RedSox.com and buy non-SRO tickets unless tickets just went on sale.

    I’ve always felt like some groups of people are purchasing the majority of the tickets from the Red Sox box office and then significantly profitting on secondary market because they realize that Fenway is small enough that they can sell the 37.5k tickets on all but the worst weather nights and that the face value prices set by the team are [somewhat] reasonable.

    Comment by Jim Lahey — December 12, 2012 @ 1:45 pm

  10. Quote from TBS announcer at the first playoff game of 2012 in Yankee Stadium: “Are we at a baseball game or a funeral?”

    Comment by O's Fan — December 12, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

  11. That may be your experience, but especially the last few years I’ve had a very different experience both with availability on the Red Sox site and the prices on Stubhub.

    More often than not, for a non-premium game (Yankees, weekend) I have been able to find tickets on the Red Sox site within a week or two of the game. And for those same non-premium games, usually Stubhub has lower than face value tickets available too. Each year I take a group of students to Fenway (once in April/May, once in September) and it’s never a problem to get 10-14 upper bleacher seats at face value either on the red sox site or on stubhub.

    Comment by Brooks — December 12, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

  12. ETA:

    For instance, I just pulled the first two Friday night game in 2013 and found tons of availability for four seats on the Sox site, almost two weeks after they went on sale. Maybe it’s just the winter hangover from a bad season, but there is usually more availability than one might think.

    Comment by Brooks — December 12, 2012 @ 2:04 pm

  13. If Yankee Stadium is half empty with hundreds of $5 tickets for sale, what makes them think that anyone will pay more for the tickets on Ticketmaster? They’ll still sell roughly the same amount of tickets from their box office, but the actual number of people in the stadium as well as the amount of money they make off of resold tickets will likely decrease.

    And screw the Cubs. Being able to buy cheap tickets hours before the game is the only reason I’ve been to 20+ games at Wrigley each of the last few years. It’s a great time, but I’m not going to pay face value for more than one or two Cubs games a year. As bad as they’ve been, they still basically sell out every game, you’d think they’d be in the same boat as the Giants, loving making money twice on most tickets.

    Comment by Owen — December 12, 2012 @ 2:10 pm

  14. So maybe I’m just missing something obvious, but since StubHub is a “secondary” ticket retailer, how is any team “losing” money by having tickets posted there. Isn’t it assumed that the tickets would have to already have sold at full price in order to get posted in the first place?

    I can understand the argument that fans are opting to buy tix on stubhub rather than paying full price, to the extent that stubhub is cheaper, but again, hadn’t the ticket they buy on stubhub already sold at full price, with the original buyer presumably taking the loss, and the club just collecting gravy from stubhub on the 2nd sale of the ticket?

    Comment by KM — December 12, 2012 @ 2:51 pm

  15. So maybe I’m just missing something obvious, but since StubHub is a “secondary” ticket retailer, how is any team “losing” money by having tickets posted there. My impression was that even if the ticket is posted on stubhub for significantly less than full price, it’s already sold for full price once, and the stubhub sale is just gravy for the club? Not to mention the food, drink, parking, etc dollars that would have been lost if he ticket didn’t resell?

    Comment by KM — December 12, 2012 @ 2:54 pm

  16. Sorry for the double post… Phone must be glitchy

    Comment by KM — December 12, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  17. The problem for the Yankees is that on games that are not sold out in advance, no one will buy the remaining tickets from the Yankee box office at full price when that can buy tickets on StubHub that are below face value. This means the Yankees cannot sell tickets that aren’t bought as part season ticket packages.

    Comment by Kyle — December 12, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

  18. Presumably, if there was no Stubhub, some non zero % of the people who bought on Stub Hub would’ve paid full price at the box office instead, thus netting them more money.

    Comment by Heather — December 12, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

  19. The issue isn’t whether StubHub exists — there are lots of online secondary marketplaces for things like tickets. Indeed, StubHub is now owned by EBay. As I noted, before StubHub, there was craigslist and other ways for fans to find each and buy/sell tickets.

    The MLB partnership with StubHub gives MLB a chance at extra money that would just go to StubHub otherwise, while StubHub gets more traffic, and hence, higher overall fees.

    It’s the efficiency of StubHub, coupled with the MLB partnership, that makes it better/easier for many fans to buy tickets from SH and not from teams.

    Comment by Wendy Thurm — December 12, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  20. Good article, but I would like to point out that the Giants situation is a little unique because they use a dynamic pricing model and have about 10,000 fewer seats than the Yankees, which is one reason their seats might be selling for premiums on StubHub.

    For those interested, here’s a look at the issue from the Yankees’ perspective: http://tinyurl.com/c9bgpz2

    Comment by Will — December 12, 2012 @ 5:13 pm

  21. Don’t teams make most of their money from concessions and such, not from the actual ticket sales? Sounds like they are complaining about nothing.

    Comment by Randy — December 12, 2012 @ 6:24 pm

  22. One thing I don’t get: if you can get a below face value ticket on Stubhub, who is selling these tickets?
    The clubs ? Some season ticket holders? Some people who buy tons of tickets and try to do business out of it ?

    Comment by Paul — December 12, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  23. Great article Wendy! It’s really interesting to see how some teams thrive off of Stub Hub and others (like my beloved Yankees) have serious problems with it.

    Comment by Spunky — December 13, 2012 @ 12:36 am

  24. Ms. Thurm is quickly becoming one of my favorite contributors to this site. It’s great learning about this side of baseball.

    Comment by Travis — December 13, 2012 @ 5:12 am

  25. On the contrary, gate receipts make up a large percentage of revenue. It was almost 75% of revenue for the Yankees in 2011, according to Forbes.

    Comment by Will — December 13, 2012 @ 8:06 am

  26. There are basically two groups of sellers:

    Season ticket holders who are either selling tickets they can’t use or trying to subsidize their package by selling unwanted games.

    Brokers who participate in StubHub’s Large Sellers Program. These are traditional scalper types, but now also include some who are trying to “short” the market by selling tickets before obtaining them at lower price.

    Comment by Will — December 13, 2012 @ 8:21 am

  27. For me, I’m actually willing to pay a (small) premium to buy a ticket from stubhub even if the game is not sold out, simply because stubhub lets you choose your seat, and has cool sorting and filtering features that allow you to, for example, see all of the front row seats selling for under $50. If the teams did that too, I’d rather buy from them.

    Comment by KM — December 13, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

  28. Wrong, Heather. People have their own resistance price limits. Many will just decide that particular game is not worth the highly set ticket face values, and will simply not go and stay home. And, then, that person is not paying other important team revenue sources of parking, food, beer, souvenirs.

    Comment by mikec — December 13, 2012 @ 4:02 pm

  29. Some of the teams have started doing done dynamic pricing, but so much more could be done. MLB is giving up so much money by not employing modern revenue management techniques like the airlines use. Seats are a perishable product and should be sold at whatever price possible instead of going unsold. StubHub is filling a market inefficiency.

    Comment by Matt — December 13, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  30. @mikec, what part of non-zero do you not understand?

    Comment by Greg — December 13, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

  31. Nice piece, although probably just a start since it doesn’t address why StubHub is a problem for some big-market teams. Face it, the Yankees don’t have an issue selling tickets. They’ve led the AL is tickets sold for heaven knows how long, drawing 3.6-3.7M fans a year in their new park. The problem is not selling the tickets. The Yankees will have a guaranteed, locked in 3M tickets sold before the first pitch of the season. The problem sits with the fans who own the tickets and can’t go to every game in their plans. In the past, they simply resold the tickets, sometimes at a profit, or roughly round face value.

    The problem is that StubHub is heavily titled toward buyers, with its algorithm rapidly lowering prices to the point where fans who bought the original tickets at face value only getting a few dollars, in some cases pennies, on their tickets. Plus, all the transparency sits with the buyers, who can see all the inventory, while the sellers and owners have little ability to assess demand. Worse, tickets get flooded on the market because it’s a perishable commodity. Once game time hits, the price drops to zero on resales.

    StubHub has created the exact opposite impact of the velvet-rope syndrome. The Yankees make money off the original sale and they also make money off the resale, so on first look you’d think they’d be happy with it. Yet they know if their primary ticket buyers are being screwed by the StubHub system, that will eventually impact the Yankees because it will threaten to reduce their season-ticket sales.

    Comment by RobM — December 14, 2012 @ 2:43 am

  32. Mo’ money. That’s what the Yankees want. Their pricing is ridiculous, not only for the tickets, but also the parking and concessions. Who can afford a $400 day at the ballpark? Yeah, I’ve taken my son dozens of times over the years, but even he doesn’t see the value in it anymore.

    I’ll watch on TV. Maybe.

    Comment by Mark James — March 12, 2013 @ 8:53 am

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