Sports Leagues Are Reevaluating TV, So Why Not Ticketing Too?

Courtesy of Barron’s:

Ticketmaster’s exclusive ticketing arrangement with the NFL ends next year. Might the league start letting you buy tickets on Twitter?

The National Football League, like other pro sports leagues, has been looking for new ways to keep young people engaged.

The NFL started streaming Thursday Night Football games on Twitter last year, and it will bring those games to this season. The league’s next move could come with ticketing.

In a blog post Tuesday, BTIG analyst Brandon Ross explored the possibility that Ticketmaster could lose its exclusive ticketing agreement with the NFL. He cites a May article from the Sports Business Journal, in which anonymous league and team sources said that the NFL was interested in moving to a more “open” ticketing system once its arrangement with Ticketmaster parent Live Nation Entertainment expires next year. With an open model, fans might be able to watch a highlight video on Twitter and then click a link to immediately buy a ticket to the next game, the Sports Business Journal wrote.

Ross points out NFL fans have already found ways around the Ticketmaster arrangement. Many season ticket holders still opt to sell their tickets on eBay’s Stubhub, for instance. “That is lost data for the NFL,” Ross writes, since Ticketmaster likely shares customer data with the NFL.

Live Nation, which has big power with artists and concert venues, isn’t quite the same force when it comes to the more powerful sports leagues. Numerous baseball teams have already turned to MLB’s own ticketing platform, while Major League Soccer has an open ticketing arrangement with Seat Geek. The NFL is more powerful than either of those leagues.

Ross rates Live Nation at Neutral, though he concedes he’s been wrong on the stock to date; shares are up 43% this year. For now, he’s staying on the sidelines.

Big Picture: Ticketmaster’s exclusive deal with the NFL ends next year and an analyst explores what would happen if the league opened its ticketing business to others.