Adverserial business models: online ticket scalping


Back to blogging, picking up an older story from New York Times Sep 24.

After losing the to the Tigers in the AL Division Series on Saturday, the Yankees have extended their not-winning a World Series streak to 6 years. There may be no joy in the Bronx, but online sleuthing and going after season ticket holders remains a strength, according to an article by Richard Sandomir. Fans are on notice. A handful already lost season-tickets for attempting to sell individual game seats online. Quote:

“The Yankees troll the online resellers looking for tickets with seat numbers attached, but fans tend to avoid being so easily detected.”

The stalking does not stop online:

“Pate [spokesperson for online reseller StubHub] said guards have stopped fans who visibly carry StubHub envelopes and questioned them about where they got their tickets, which would help to pursue the season ticket holder.” 

Yankees’ COO confirmed this questionable tactic. Discouraging scalping is understandable and one could argue that fans looking to make a quick buck over scarce season tickets were not the fans a team wants to cultivate in any case.  But the club’s policy has no reference to charging over face value or the number of tickets available for sale. Fans unable to attend a game and trying to recover some value for their tickets are in the same boat. This leads to an interesting arms race: fans attempt to hide their identity when selling their tickets and the Yankees will attempt to unmask them. Not being able to put the exact seat number already creates an impediment as potential buyers have to bid on seats with at least some uncertainty. The more precise the seller can be– deck, infield/outfield, section, row– the smaller the number of suspects.

There is a more subtle conflict of interest: Yankees want to enter the online resale market with their own official website. The article points out that 2 other teams already hosting their exchange sites have learned to coexist with independent auction sites. One of those teams is the San Diego padres, the other one is the New York Mets– who will be contending for the National League pennant against the St Louis Cardinals next week. Amazing what clubs can accomplish when they prioritize baseball over monitoring online auction sites.

cemp

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