ENTERTAINMENT: THAT'S THE TICKET! FANS MAY BE BIG WINNER IN DUCATS GAME
By Raymund Flandez
16 December 2004
A battle for control over the sports-ticketing business is resulting in some new options for fans.
Ticketmaster, a unit of IAC/InterActiveCorp., has long dominated ticket selling for professional sports. But in an effort to reclaim that revenue stream, some teams are trying to take back their ticketing operations.
As part of this, the teams are starting to roll out some new features. The NBA expansion Charlotte Bobcats next year will introduce a service that lets fans put monetary value on their tickets, much like a debit card, to pay for the parking fees and concession items, among other things. The San Diego Padres, meanwhile, now let fans swipe their credit card at the entrance of the stadium so they don't have to wait in line to purchase or pick up tickets.
In response, Ticketmaster and tickets.com, which still provide tickets for the bulk of sporting events, are adding their own bells and whistles. Ticketmaster has launched an auction-style market service that allows fans to bid for tickets to coveted events such as the NBA playoffs. Teams reserve a certain amount of tickets to auction to the top-bidding fans. And in the next few weeks, Tickets.com will unveil an online tool that gives fans their own accounts that they can use to do things like resell tickets.
Some sports teams believe that doing their own ticket sales will let them compile a database on their fans, which they can then use to do more direct marketing. The teams also get to keep more profit from the numerous surcharges applied to tickets -- these fees are usually split among resellers, teams and venue operators. Other teams, though, would rather leave the ticket selling up to a middleman such as Ticketmaster and focus on the game itself.
The teams that are trying to regain control of this process are hiring small companies that make sophisticated ticketing software to help them. Last month, Paciolan of Irvine, Calif., which has dominated the college-sports ticketing business for two decades, struck a deal with Comcast-Spectacor, the owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and Philadelphia Flyers, to use its ticketing software once its contract with Ticketmaster runs out in a couple of years.
In the last five years, Paciolan has brought aboard at least two NBA teams, one NHL team and four Major League Baseball teams. Another of the technology companies, Audience View Software Corp. of Toronto, has provided ticket-sales management to the Toronto Blue Jays, Churchill Downs racetracks and the minor league baseball Durham (N.C.) Bulls.
This new competition has forced ticket sellers to offer more convenience. Print-at-home ticketing, for example, and the ability to resell tickets on team's Web sites both debuted in the last few years.
This comes at a time when Ticketmaster, which sold 100 million tickets valued at $4.9 billion in 2003, says that more than half of the people who bought their tickets did so via the Internet
Article originally published in:
The Wall Street Journal
(Copyright ©2004, Dow Jones & Company, Inc.)