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Volume 21 No. 1
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Deal will create NBA portal on Ticketmaster

The NBA has signed a multiyear ticketing deal with Ticketmaster, which for the first time will consolidate the primary and secondary ticket-selling efforts for all 30 teams.

The deal, in development for several months, will create a centralized online portal for fans that is intended to serve as a one-stop shopping site for all NBA tickets. League and team officials said the new site will add branding power, ease of use, and security to attract more ticket buyers while also delivering additional consumer data collected that will be with the teams.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the pact calls for ticket buyers to be directed to a new leaguewide landing page featuring logos for all 30 teams. On that site, to be separately branded and co-marketed by both Ticketmaster and the NBA, users will be shown all available ticket options for each team, including secondary listings.

Chief Operating Officer Jared Smith says Ticketmaster has tailored a system to meet the needs of the NBA and its fans.
Ticketmaster’s new deal comes after its leaguewide secondary deal with the NBA expired in 2010.

“The core of it is that all teams will be pushing one site and one brand, which is not the case now,” said Chris Granger, executive vice president of the NBA’s team marketing and business operations department. “To have all the primary and secondary inventory on one site is unique.”

For Ticketmaster, the deal quickly follows the signing last spring of a multiyear contract extension with the NFL. Operationally, the NBA deal will share a fair degree of similarity to the football deal, but include a heightened focus on primary ticketing as NBA teams typically feature much more available primary market inventory than do NFL teams.

“There are subtle differences,” said Jared Smith, Ticketmaster chief operating officer. “But what we’ve done is taken our learnings from elsewhere and really tailored something that’s going to serve the league, the sport, and the basketball fan. In this case, there’s some evidence that the fan is being trained to immediately go to the secondary market. So our goal is to create something where the fan is presented with a complete, overall view of all safe, trusted ticket options.”

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The secondary market inventory will also derive from Ticketmaster-controlled outlets, such as TeamExchange and TicketsNow, meaning tickets sold on StubHub and other major venues will still exist outside the new structure.

The deal will allow the six NBA teams that do not have local Ticketmaster deals to also be part of the larger structure. Houston, Utah, Denver and Cleveland currently work with Veritix, owned by Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert. Philadelphia and Portland are aligned with Comcast-owned Paciolan. But the logos for those teams on the new ticketing landing page will direct purchasers to their respective online ticket-selling locations.

The new system will be partially implemented by the late October start of the upcoming NBA season, with full operational capability projected for the 2013-14 season. Yet to be established is any specific team marketing spend in promoting the site.

“The deal provides access to every team on both the primary and secondary market with the intent to get everyone on the site, even teams that are not using Ticketmaster,” said Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins. “It is an aggregator to utilize the total branding power of the league.”

An issue already of keen interest to the NBA and nearly every other sports property is the league and individual team access to ticketing data and analytics collected from the new site.

“It is more convenient and more secure,” said Steve Schanwald, executive vice president of business operations for the Chicago Bulls. “We will receive more marketing support from the league and Ticketmaster, which should help us sell more tickets in both the primary and secondary markets. This also will give us great data and analytic support, which should result in better real-time data to support pricing decisions.”

MLB offers a similar, logo-driven ticketing landing page for all 30 baseball clubs from And from that page, users can also link directly to StubHub, since 2007 the league’s official secondary ticketing partner. The NFL and NHL also offer centralized ticketing hubs from their official websites including primary links to every club and direct links to Ticketmaster TeamExchange, the resale hub operated by the ticketing giant.

“This is a very significant step forward for the NBA,” said Bernie Mullin, chief executive of industry consultancy The Aspire Group and a former NBA marketing executive. “It impacts the league on multiple levels. The growth of the secondary market has hurt some teams, and controlling both the primary and secondary market is essential. It also brings the ability to market and collect more data on ticket buyers.