StubHub has announced big plans to infiltrate the primary ticketing market, as the eBay-owned company takes on the might of Ticketmaster in the lucrative live events realm.
StubHub revealed that it’s launching a new all-in-one ticketing platform, offering its partners a “reimagined rightsholder branded experience, full market visibility, data ownership and the listing of primary and secondary ticket inventory in a single marketplace,” according to a company press release. For the launch, StubHub has called on the Philadelphia 76ers to serve as its launch partner, meaning that StubHub is now the official ticketing partner of the basketball team ahead of the 2016-2017 NBA season.
Moving forward, StubHub will offer a single ticketing repository with a single seat map — tickets won’t be designated as ‘primary’ or ‘secondary’. StubHub will also offer a white-label service for primary sellers, meaning they can fully brand tickets with their own logos and so on.
Founded out of San Francisco in 2000, StubHub has become a major force in the online ticketing space, partly thanks to its $310 million acquisition by eBay in 2007. However, unlike Ticketmaster, StubHub’s core raison d’être has been the “secondary” market — where people resell tickets to live events.
While StubHub pitches itself as a legitimate platform for people looking to shift tickets for events they can no longer attend, it has also gained a reputation as a platform for scalpers. Indeed, ABC recently called StubHub the “ticket scalper of the digital age, the ultimate middleman to shake up the way people interact to buy and sell tickets to almost any concert, theater performance, or sporting event.”
In March last year, StubHub filed a lawsuit against both Ticketmaster and an NBA basketball team, the Golden State Warriors, in response to what StubHub called “unfair and illegal anti-competitive business practices that prevent fans from deciding how they want to resell their tickets and which artificially drive up ticket prices.”
The crux of StubHub’s issue was that Ticketmaster had been the official primary and secondary ticketing partner of the NBA since 2007. This meant that basketball fans who bought tickets on Ticketmaster, but who subsequently were unable to attend the games, could sell their tickets through the team’s website using Ticketmaster’s TicketExchange service. In effect, StubHub accused Ticketmaster of being monopolistic by forcing fans to use its own secondary ticketing service, rather than giving them the freedom to use third-party platforms — such as StubHub. Though a court ultimately ruled against StubHub, the case helps highlight the history between these two companies and how Ticketmaster — though largely a primary ticketing vendor — has also made inroads into servicing the secondary market.
Now, StubHub is looking to get a bigger share of the proverbial ticketing pie by targeting the rightsholders directly, be those venues or, as in this case, sports teams. Securing the Philadelphia 76ers as a launch partner may be a coincidence, but it’s certainly symbolic so soon after StubHub’s showdown with Ticketmaster and the Golden State Warriors.
It’s also interesting to see that while Ticketmaster and StubHub started from different positions, they ended up in the same place — both selling tickets on the primary and secondary markets. While my initial suspiction was that StubHub would require fans to resell tickets on its own site if they can no longer make an event, it transpires that this is not the case — fans will have the freedom to resell tickets on any third-party platform.
“For over 15 years, StubHub has been a marketplace that connected buyers and sellers of tickets to live events on the secondary market, but now we are in a position to provide the industry a true end-to-end ticketing solution that combines our experience in e-commerce and secondary ticketing with a set of features that will help our partners sell more tickets,” explained Scott Cutler, president of StubHub. “This new platform signifies the evolution of our company and a revolution in the industry.”