Ticket transferability is one of the most important consumer protections for fans of live events. It is one of the pillars of the Ticket Buyer Bill of Rights, for which Sports Fans Coalition advocates. Fans often have to buy a ticket to an event months in advance, and sometimes life has other plans. This is especially true of fans who invest in season tickets and are holding many tickets for a sports season. If a fan can’t attend the event, they should be able to resell their ticket to make up any losses they may face. However, there’s another important element to fan resale – consumer savings.
The ability of a ticket holder to freely transfer tickets they already purchased to another fan powers the secondary market for sports tickets. And because supply and demand generally dictates what a ticket buyer will pay on a ticket resale marketplace, many ticket holders are willing to resell their tickets at a price lower than they originally paid. For this reason, the Sports Fans Coalition always encourages fans to comparison shop for tickets.
Advocates for resale will say tickets are often priced lower on the secondary market compared to the box office, team, or the team’s contracted primary ticketing company (usually Ticketmaster). Sports Fans Coalition decided to look at the numbers and see what value there is to fans. Analyzing data from Automatiq, a leading data provider for ticketing companies, Sports Fans Coalition was able to see a significant snapshot of the industry with some very interesting data. The data includes 25,316,259 tickets sold over a five-year period (2017 through 2022) for Major League Baseball (MLB), National Basketball Association (NBA), National Football League (NFL), and the National Hockey League (NHL).
Across all MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL tickets, tickets on the secondary market were sold below face value more than a third of the time.
- NHL fans were the most likely to find tickets below face value.
- In total, since 2017, fans saved $259,498,022 million dollars on sports tickets by buying their tickets on the secondary ticket resale market.
On a per ticket basis, fans save about enough to buy a beer at an NFL game – on average $9.76.
Six states protect a fan’s right to transfer their tickets. Of those, only four have professional sports teams – Colorado, New York, Illinois, and Utah. Between 2017 and 2022, fans in these states saved $56,143,376.16, averaging a total of $14 million per state. In those 26 states (including Canada) which have professional sports teams and do not protect a fan’s right to transfer their tickets, fans saved $203,354,646.11 over that same time period, averaging only $7.8 million per state in total fan savings.
- Fans in states where their ability to transfer their purchased tickets is protected by law saved almost twice as much as those in states that do not protect ticket transferability or where teams, venues or others in the industry can restrict transfer.
- Savings have grown nearly every year since 2017. 2022 had the most consumer savings at $87.3M across all sports. This is equivalent to 1,590% growth in consumer savings since 2017.
The expansive data set of over 25 million ticket sales that was analyzed by Sports Fans Coalition confirms that fans are well served by having the ability to offer their tickets for resale, or to purchase tickets from the secondary resale market. While high demand events where available ticket inventory is scarce tends to drive headlines focused on high ticket prices in the secondary market, clearly the secondary market for tickets also offers fans lower priced tickets, too. Sports fans should always comparison shop for tickets, so that they can potentially save.