National Championship Game 1st to Require Mobile Entry

College Football Playoff

Nearly all fans attending tonight’s national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will use an Apple iOS (AAPL) or Android device to enter the stadium; as Ticketmaster, the official partner of College Football Playoff, will only be issuing paper tickets to a small number of VIPs. The all SEC contest is the first significant U.S. sporting event to require mobile entry; fans will not have the option to print their own tickets. Ticketmaster (LYV) said it’s using mobile ticketing to “increase the safety (i.e. counterfeiting) and convenience of the ticketing process” and to expedite “mobile entry for fans.” Fans without mobile devices will have the option of visiting the box office and having their ticket printed for them.

Howie Long-Short: Stubhub said that Ticketmaster mandating mobile ticketing for the game, has resulted in less inventory; but, TicketIQ is reporting that they’ve seen 2x the amount of inventory (from last year) in the 3 days leading up to the game. In 2017, Stubhub increased its fees 1.5% to 21.8% per transaction; nearly 3x (7.7%) more than parent company eBay (EBAY) charged its sellers. Perhaps that has something to do with why inventory is down.

Fan Marino: Georgia HC Kirby Smart was a long-time assistant under Nick Saban (Alabama, LSU, Dolphins), but guys on Saban’s coaching tree haven’t fared well against their former boss; Saban has won the last 11 meetings over former assistants (Fisher, Dantonio, Muschamp, McElwain, Dooley).

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MLB Sets Record for Sponsorship Revenue Generated in a Season

MLB has set a league record for sponsorship revenue generated in a season, taking in $892 million in 2017; a 7.9% increase YOY and up 26% from just 5 years ago ($663 million). Newly signed deals with Coke (KO), Nathan’s Famous (NATH), Old Dominion Freight Line (ODFL) and 5-Hour Energy along with the addition of presenting sponsorships for the playoffs and World Series, are credited driving the growth. New Era, StubHub (EBAY), Budweiser (BUD), Majestic Athletic and State Farm were the league’s 5 most active sponsors. The data was compiled by ESP Properties, a sports & entertainment research and consulting firm owned by WPP (WPPGY).

Howie Long-Short: MLB finished a distant 2nd among the 4 major U.S. professional sports leagues in sponsorship revenues generated. The NFL brought in $1.2 billion during the ’16 season, the NBA did $880 million and the NHL generated a league record $505 million in ’16-’17 (5.9% increase YOY). With the addition of the Adidas (ADDYY) contract, the NHL is expected to set another record this season.

Fan Marino: While on the topic of baseball, Astros OF George Springer hit a HR in the 7th inning of Game 5 of the World Series, that appeared to explode upon landing. You can check out the video here. While logic points to perfect placement and immaculate timing by the Astros pyrotechnic staff, conspiracy theorists will claim the balls are juiced…with TNT. I suppose it’s possible. The teams have combined for a World Series record 22 home runs through 5 games.

Behind Coke, YouTube, Camping World, MLB Sponsor Spend Hits $892M In 2017

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StubHub (eBay) and the NFL have announced a multi-year partnership that will make the world’s largest ticketing marketplace, the NFL’s “authorized ticket resale marketplace”, beginning in 2018. As part of a new 5-year deal with Ticketmaster (LYV), the NFL will be introducing the first open architecture, fully digital ticketing system in sports; meaning StubHub will be able to directly integrate with the league’s primary ticketing system for the first time. The NFL will allow competing marketplaces to integrate with the platform as well, but StubHub will retain exclusive marketing rights and other benefits.

Howie Long-Short: eBay Inc. (EBAY) reported earnings of $514 million ($.48/share) for the quarter ending September 30th. EBAY did $2.4 billion in revenue, up 9% YOY; with $1.9 billion (up 8% YOY) coming from their marketplace platforms. StubHub contributed $275 million in revenue (up 5% YOY), with the growth driven by international sales. The company is currently investing heavily in the redevelopment of their platforms amid stiff competition from AMZN.

Fan Marino: The Province of Ontario is working on consumer protection legislation that would ban ticket scalping “bots” and cap the markup on resold tickets to $.50, on resale sites like StubHub. Banning bots makes sense because it creates an even playing field. Capping resale prices does not. Why would a fan buy a season ticket if they could always get a seat for no more than $.50 above the face value of the ticket? The Raptors & Blue Jays should be lobbying against this bill.

StubHub Becomes Designated NFL Ticket Resale Marketplace

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The cost of attending an NFL game can range significantly from city to city, with resale market prices largely dependent on the quality of the teams playing. According to StubHub (EBAY), no team is more expensive to see live this season than the Cowboys. 5 of the 10 most coveted (i.e. expensive) games on the site include the Dallas football franchise, with Sunday Night’s game against the New York Giants listed as the single most expensive ticket of the season. The defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers, with a national following, come in second and third on the list.

Howie Long-Short: The NFL’s exclusive ticketing partnership with Ticketmaster (LYV) expires in 2018. The league is convinced it can make more by retaining a cut of the sales profits than by selling partnership rights. One option moving forward, would be for the league to use an “open platform” that makes seats available through a variety of outside ticketing, e-commerce and social media platforms. SeatGeek has an “open platform” that several MLS teams have successfully used.

Fan Marino: You can find a ticket to every NY Jets home game for $37 or less, except for the N.E. ($100) and Miami ($47) games. For 5 out of 8 home games, you’ll pay more to park your car ($35) than to attend the actual game. Then again, the tailgate is certain to be more exciting than the action on the field.

Americas Team Cowboys tickets most in demand


Ticketmaster (LYV) has partnered with Cincinnati based start-up Lisnr, as it plans to use ultrasonic sound technology, known as smart tones, to power attendee verification. The signals, inaudible to 90% of humans, are sent from your cell phone as you approach the venue and are verified by scanner at the point of entry, expediting the entry process. Cost, efficiency, the need for fraud protection and the ability to gather data related to attendee habits/preferences, are driving the move to digital ticketing.


Ticketmaster will soon admit you to events using audio data transmitted from your phone

Howie Long-Short opines: I had to scan 13 tickets Saturday. This would have been useful, but I don’t see it having a big impact on the stock price.

Fan Marino says: Technology has caused a loss of jobs, privacy and interpersonal connection, but it is those ticket stubs, mementos of a bygone era, I miss most. Collecting StubHub (EBAY) printouts isn’t exactly the same.