Looking to find affordable tickets to an NFL game this year? You may be largely out of luck according to a new report on the NFL’s resale ticket market.
New York-based TicketIQ, formerly TiqIQ, has become one of the go-to sources in the world of ticketing, aggregating more than 90 percent of the resale market and working with numerous primary ticket platforms, including Ticketmaster, Ticketfly and Eventbrite. The company recently released its State of the NFL Ticket Report, and resale ticket buyers can expect to pay a pretty penny to see their favorite teams in person.
According to the report, the average home game resale ticket price increased 12 percent per year from 2011 to 2015. Last season, the average resale ticket price reached $248 with that number expected to jump to $275 as we begin the 2016 season. The Seattle Seahawks have the most expensive home resale ticket with a hefty average price of $466. In comparison, the Jacksonville Jaguars have the least expensive home ticket at $141.
Even the Jaguars' secondary ticket price dwarfs last year’s average season ticket price, which was $85.83, 288 percent less than the average resale ticket price.
The primary reason for rising resale prices is NFL teams increasing usage of consolidators, according to the report. Imagine if every ticket scalper outside of your favorite arena acted as a unified body, creating pricing floors and different levels of prices for resale tickets. That is consolidation. Teams sell tickets in bulk to these “mega-brokers,” who then in turn provide the tickets to fans at a premium. It is a system in which everyone wins but the fans, who now pay costs that have been passed down from both the team and the consolidator.
In some markets, consolidation works in conjunction with other factors to make the ticketing situation more burdensome for fans. Under the league's newly implemented team-friendly, dynamic ticket-pricing plan, teams keep a number of loose tickets in-house to be made available to fans at differing prices, depending on the gravity of the game in question. The end result? Fewer tickets to consolidators means an increase in price either due to ticket scarcity or a higher price floor so consolidators can recoup costs. Either way, fans bear the increased burden of cost.
The dynamic pricing plan/consolidator conundrum could help partially explain the ticket situation in a dynamic price plan city like Cleveland. The average primary ticket (non-club or box seat) price for a Cleveland Browns game is approximately $69, but the resale average price is more than two times that amount at approximately $145. That pricing disparity exists even though the Browns simultaneously managed to fill approximately 90 percent of the seats during the team’s eight home games last season.
Even with the ticket price disparity and the empty seats, you do not see the Browns taking drastic steps to control tickets to third parties so as to entice more fans to the games. Why?
Television money is king.
It is an equation that may be to the detriment of fans desiring to watch the games in-person, but a boon to NFL pockets. The NFL is provided the best of both worlds. Fans either pay a price premium to attend games in person or, if the games are too expensive, simply watch the games on television, where the NFL managed to negotiate a 60 percent increase in its extensions with Fox, CBS and NBC in 2011, bringing the league an estimated $26 billion through the year 2022.
The NFL as a product does not see demand wane because ticket prices are too expensive. It instead sees that demand funneled into a digital format, which is even more profitable. Of course, for a league that is looking to surpass $25 billion in revenues by 2027, “guiding” fans into the league's television/media model might be a part of the league's business plan.
Fans looking to buck that trend better be willing to open up their wallets.
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