SBD/September 7, 2012/Leagues and Governing Bodies

StubHub Execs Remain Optimistic Of Renewing Ticketing Deal With MLBAM

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StubHub execs Thursday said they are "cautiously optimistic" of extending the company's landmark secondary ticketing deal with MLBAM. The existing five-year deal, worth an estimated $60M in annual fees and revenue guarantees, expires after this season and has been a key factor in helping accelerate the growth and acceptance of secondary ticketing in sports. But the deal has not been universally embraced within baseball, due in large part to listings on StubHub often undercutting primary market ticket prices. Execs from StubHub and MLB, including members of MLB's Ticketing Review Committee, have spent months working on a potential new deal that would seek to take the overall ticketing landscape into account. StubHub Dir of Business Development & Partnerships Danielle Maged said, "We are very committed to a renewal and are cautiously optimistic. We would love to have a renewal. We think the MLB partnership has been really successful, helping grow the fan base even in a recession, and it's something that has provided a lot of efficiency to the fan." Some type of final decision is expected within the next several weeks, as MLB teams will soon commence ticket sales efforts for the '13 season. Maged said that there has been a "back-and-forth" dialogue with the Yankees, who have been among the most vocal detractors of the StubHub alignment. Maged: "We're committed to make it work with them, and we would hope they would continue to be a partner." Specific terms within the ongoing StubHub-MLBAM talks are not known, but the ticketing marketplace remains firmly against implementing price floors or other artificial controls, a stance it has held generally throughout its decade-plus existence. MLBAM declined to comment.

CREATING NEW PLATFORM: Meanwhile, StubHub Thursday outlined plans to create a new platform for outside developers to access its application program interface (API). The open API program would work bi-directionally, in which StubHub links and data would appear on third-party sites, and third-party digital products would also be infused within StubHub's online and mobile experiences. Initial efforts have begun with existing StubHub business partners, notably ESPN, where over the past two weeks a wide variety of StubHub ticket listing and venue data has been infused within ESPN.com pages. But StubHub intends to broaden the platform by the end of the year. Financial terms were not disclosed, and may not be based on a universal, preset revenue-sharing formula, such as what exists in other third-party development venues such as iTunes. The StubHub effort also extends recent efforts by the company to include more social and event discovery tools within the site.
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