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Ticketmaster outsmarts scalpers

Paperless ticketing is the key

By Karen Datko Sep 18, 2009 11:30AM

Here's good news for many sports and concert fans: Ticketmaster has found a way to sidestep the scalpers and control the price of ticket resales.

 

How does it work? It's made possible by Ticketmaster's paperless ticket option. Limited now in application, you can expect that more and more ticket sales will become paper-free.

 

Our Smart Spending colleague Teresa Mears explained how paperless ticketing worked when she did a most unfrugal thing by attending a concert by the Boss, who likes the paper-free approach. (I am extremely jealous.) Teresa said:

To get into Sunday's Bruce Springsteen concert in South Florida, concertgoers had to swipe the credit cards with which they had bought the tickets. The handheld machine then printed out paper tickets with their seat numbers on them. If one person had bought the tickets for a group, they all had to enter at once.

Venues also require a separate photo ID.

 

The Associated Press explained how the resale system is operating for Nittany Lions season ticket sales this year. The season costs students $240, which works out to $30 for each home game. Because paperless tickets have given Penn State total control, it could limit the number of resold tickets to six per student and set a top price of $60. A entire season of tickets had been known to scalp for $1,400, AP says.

 

The resale is done through Ticketmaster's Web site, and both parties have to have student IDs.

 

With this system, Ticketmaster also makes more money and doesn't lose out to brokers on the secondary market. The AP explained:

For the initial sales run, fees amounted to a little more than $4 per ticket, but on resales the buyer was required to pay $1.95 and a 15% transaction fee -- up to $10.95 a pop. In the home opener, the total resale fee averaged $7.89 and was shared between Ticketmaster and the university.

Sure, brokers aren't happy, and those who used to profit handsomely from tickets resales are most likely upset. But the average resale price at Penn State was actually much less than $60. (By the way, Ticketmaster is trying to sell TicketsNow.)

 

What do you think about this development?

 

For in-depth reading about Ticketmaster and the secondary market, check out "The price of the ticket" by John Seabrook in the Aug. 10 issue of The New Yorker (subscription required).

 

Related reading:

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