Today, MLB Advanced Media and StubHub announced that they’ve renewed their agreement for StubHub to be MLB’s official re-selling marketplace for game tickets. The agreement began in 2007, and under it, MLB received a chunk of cash from StubHub, and folks looking to sell their tickets could use StubHub under the imprimatur of MLB – there was actual coordination between the entities. It was easy, convenient, and allowed folks to get tickets to sold out games … as well as dirt cheap tickets to not-so-sold-out games.
And that last part has been a problem for some teams, including three that decided to opt-out of the StubHub deal, according to a StubHub spokesperson. The Angels, the Yankees, and …
Yes, the Cubs will not be an official partner with StubHub going forward, but the implications of that decision are somewhat unclear. I’ve done a little digging, and it appears that the biggest beef teams like the Angels, Yankees and Cubs have with the StubHub agreement is the fact that it allowed their tickets to unattractive games to be available for mere dollars, which (1) harms the brand, and (2) makes folks less likely to buy tickets in the primary market (i.e., from the team). Why pay $80 in January for a June game when you can wait until June, and possibly end up paying just $15 on StubHub?
We’ll see how this actually plays out, and I expect quite a few articles on this over the coming days. Will the Cubs align with another reseller like Ticketmaster, and impose artificial ticket price floors? Will the Cubs instead try to become their own secondary ticket market seller (in which they would obviously impose floors, which could theoretically be set at face value)? Will the Cubs simply try to negotiate a floor pricing scheme or better rates with StubHub?
The upshot here is that the Cubs must believe the StubHub deal, as it was constructed, was having a negative impact on the market for their tickets (that is to say, their ability to keep prices at the level they would like), and will now seek out a way to better maximize (or simply protect) the revenues associated with ticket sales.
Can’t really blame the Cubs for taking this route, if they believe they can make more money going at it without StubHub. At the same time, folks who’ve become accustomed to picking up late-season tickets on the cheap are probably going to be unhappy with how this shakes out.
We’ll just have to see what happens.