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Expert Interview: US ticketing pricing and the effect on Europe

March 12, 2019

 

 

 

In our new segment, The Insider Interview Series, the world’s leading experts of the ticketing business will share their vision and insights of the industry with you in an interview with our CEO Hans Nissens.

 

The expert today is Fred Maglione. Fred is an accomplished executive with over 45 years of experience working with various organisations in the live sports and entertainment industry. He is the former Executive Chairman of TopTix USA, Former CEO of New Era Tickets and has held management positions in a number of other businesses that focused on live sports and entertainment. He is currently the CEO of The Maglione Group. Fred specialises in management, fundraising, domestic and international business development, technology evaluation, product positioning, and all areas of primary and secondary ticketing. It speaks for itself that he is a skilled executive, strategist and advisor.

 

 

 

Hello Fred, it is a pleasure to meet again and we welcome you to our Interview Series. We are very much looking forward to your expertise on the ticketing pricing in the US and how this is effecting the pricing in Europe. 

 

Hello Hans, the pleasure is mine and I am looking forward to elaborate on the US pricing and its effects on the European ticketing market.

 

Q: Within the industry it is a known fact that the commercial pricing structures in the US are quite different from those in (continental) Europe. Could you outline the major differences for us?

 

A: Sure. I think that there is a simple explanation, namely a slightly more aggressive pricing strategy here is the US. For a long time promoters and content owners were reluctant to price their product at its true value, but this behaviour is currently shifting. Take the Premier League, last year the Independent reported that the average ticket cost was £32. The average ticket for a NFL game in the US is $112.00, that is almost 3 times more. Content owners used to think they would be looked down upon if they priced their product too high, but that sentiment is gradually going away.

 

Q: That is quite a difference indeed. What in your opinion is the underlaying reason behind these price increases?

 

A: In one word “data”. There are companies in the US that focus on analysing the secondary market and social media, and that supply content owners with results.

 

Unlike a lot of countries in Europe the secondary market in the USA does not have a lot restrictions (except for bots, against which there are strict laws). I can buy a ticket for one price, and resell it for whatever price the market is prepared to pay. While ticket resale used to be a street corner activity, the Internet has made ticket resale very transparent. That means content owners are seeing what their products are truly valued at and are asking themselves “Why aren’t I participating in that revenue stream?”.

 

That transparency has educated consumers about the reality that high demand and high profile events have a value. For a long time orchestra seats for Hamilton were selling for a few hundred dollars, while in the secondary market they were selling for thousands. It didn’t take the show producers long to realise that they could be selling those hundred dollar tickets for the tenfold increase themselves. What has also been really interesting to watch, is how event organisers are now realising they don’t need an instant sell out. Organisers are taking a smarter approach, scaling some of their seats at a very high price, some at a low price, monitoring the sale and social media to determine demand, and gradually releasing the rest of the tour and inventory for sale. Look at the recently concluded Taylor Swift stadium tour in the US. In January 2018, when tickets for some of the dates went on sale, Forbes, along with many other industry publications, was reporting that the tour was a disaster. Fast forward to fall when the tour wrapped up and it turned out to be the highest grossing tour in US history, setting new attendance records in many cities where she played.

 

It’s not just theatre and music that is waking up to this new reality. We are seeing this thinking across sports, theme parks and attractions.

 

Q: This is indeed a very interesting industry development. What do you think, how will the pricing structures evolve in the US in the future?

 

A: I wish I had a crystal ball and could answer that question. For sure we are seeing some push back with the high cost of tickets for some events and attractions. Another trend is venues starting to restructure the physical property, actually taking out seats and creating more communal spaces and a different way for patrons to experience the event. Baseball stadiums now have picnic and pool areas, you buy a ticket for the right to enter the space but don’t have a seat per se.

 

We are also seeing innovative concepts that get you in the venue in untraditional ways. The most interesting example of this concept is the Golden State Warriors of the NBA, who are opening up a new arena and have an area that sells for US$100 but DOES NOT have a view of the basketball court. Yep you read that right, it’s called a Building Pass, you get in the arena into an area and watch the game on TV.

 

Q: Let’s look across the big pond from the US to the European market. Do you think these structures will also touch base in Europe?

 

A: For sure. In my opinion this is only a matter of time. While markets and cultures differ, if it works here, chances are it will work in other markets around the world.

 

Fred, thank you for deepening our knowledge about the pricing differences in the US and Europe and your predictions for the future developments that may come across the big pond. It sounds like an exciting future.

 

Hans, it was a real pleasure talking to you and I am looking forward to the European developments as well. I hope we will speak again soon and that we will have a chance to elaborate some more about the industry developments.

 

Oxynade's eTaaS solution has a wide range of features to serve the ticketing agencies with the most extensive enterprise SaaS solution. Amongst these features is an extensive pricing and fee rules engine which enables organisers and promoters to set up their proper pricing strategy. Find out more about all available features.

 

 

This interview was conducted by our CEO Hans Nissens and edited by our Marketing Manger Lea Vanessa Stiels

 

Photo: unsplash

 

 

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