Talking Tickets 14 February 2020

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Hey There! 

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I will be in Philadelphia and New York City this week!

Have you had a chance to download the new ebook, What Matters In Ticketing Now?, created in partnership with Booking Protect we gathered 40+ thought leaders from around the world to give their opinions and ideas on what matters in tickets now! Join us for a free webinar on February 26th at 10 AM Eastern where we cover trends, takeaways, and actions that will help you get the most from the ebook.

FYI, I’m not including the story on Google’s ticket plans this week because I don’t really know enough yet to have formed a realistic opinion on the topic yet.

To the tickets!

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1. The Premier League is floating the idea of starting a Netflix-style subscription service: 

Everyone is trying to get into the OTT game, especially after the successful launch of Disney+.

At a certain point, saturation has to become a serious consideration. And, we also have to think about what does this mean for folks selling tickets and trying to get folks to come to their venues.

Seven League put together a good list of trends that they think will impact sports in 2020. Some of them seem like obvious things, especially the fact that “customers don’t want to be owned.” And, as we keep trying to think digital-first, we have to ask ourselves what does that mean for the customers we are trying to guide?

First, we have to consider if this is even the right strategy. ESPN is losing subscribers at a faster clip than ever before and the revenue from their OTT platform won’t be able to fill the gap in revenue in the near-term.

Second, how will this continued quest for folks’ entertainment spend impact the live event experience? I’d be a prime target for this Premier League OTT product if Tottenham Hotspur wasn’t already on most weekends, to begin with.

But if you start asking whether or not I’m going to pick the MLB OTT over going to a game, that’s where the challenge becomes a lot more interesting. Or, NBA TV or NFL’s offerings…on and on.

How do we keep the value proposition high? Especially when it is already a challenge.

2. Touts found guilty of fraud in the UK:

This is breaking news as I type of this week’s newsletter. So I’m sure there will be new details emerging over the next day or so.

This is the first case of its kind to be tried in the UK and it illustrates some of the differences between the US and the rest of the world in the way that the secondary market is thought about.

Where this story gets really interesting is that it comes on the heels of the Competition and Markets Authority sent out an Initial Enforcement Order against the Viagogo and StubHub merger this week.

Considering the state of the rule of law and enforcement in the States right now, I’m not 100% sure if this will have any impact on the merger going through in the States or not.

For me, keep an eye on this story. Will there be more lawsuits? What will the secondary market associations have to say about this?

After I finished writing this section, another article popped out showing how much money was being made on reselling football tickets in England…which is illegal.

3. The Australian Football League are crushing it right now: 

The first story is about how David Stern contributed to the growth of the AFL into a national sport in Australia. Which, obviously, coincides with remembrances of his life since he just passed.

It is an interesting story because it shows how sports business ideas travel the world so fluidly.

The second story that caught my eye this week isn’t a story but a piece of content.

My friends in Melbourne, Oli and Tom both sent me this video “To Hell and Back” from the pre-season of Melbourne FC. (The team that heavily recruited me to be a fan when I was speaking at the AFL in November.)

If this isn’t the best piece of team created content I’ve ever seen, I can’t quite remember what beats it.

I’ve watched it twice.

It is raw, compelling, and gives you access to the team in a way that you may only see on Hard Knocks.

And, if I’m being honest, it is much more authentic than other behind the scenes productions I’ve seen.

Finally, the AFL announced that they were freezing prices and eliminating ticket fees at Marvel Stadium in the Docklands. 

This is a really strong move by the AFL to ensure that their fans feel like they are being listened to and cared about. The AFL Fans Association has been concerned that the game was losing appeal to its core fans for the past few seasons in the rush to maximize revenue.

While this is only 1 stadium, I think having it be such a high profile example may start a reaction of changes around the league.

There are  lessons here for all of us from the AFL:

1. You have to tell stories. Melbourne FC’s story is powerful and I can’t imagine that it won’t have an impact on every aspect of their business, especially coming off a season where they didn’t perform up to expectations.

2. Your job as a business is to create and keep customers. With so much TV money flowing into sports, it becomes easy to lose connection to your customers. The reality is that all of this TV money and all of these other monetization opportunities flow out of the fact that you have fans and customers that care. You have to always put them first or you are going to lose them, once they are gone…there is no guarantee that you can get them back. 

4. The XFL kicked off to a solid start: 

The opening weekend saw decent attendance and ratings that were pretty close to the launch of the AAF last year.

The promotion around the kickoff was pretty strong, as you might expect from something led by Vince McMahon.

While tickets on the secondary market spiked to around $130+ in DC for the opening game, it seems that a lot of the games were loaded up with a lot of comps as well…which will be interesting to watch heading into week 2. (FYI, I’ll likely take the boy on Saturday to see the DC v. NY game at Audi Field, if anyone is around.)

Where do y’all think the ticket sales and ratings will go this week?

For me, 2 things to think about:

1. Is pricing going to be an issue for fans?

Get-in face value is $24 in DC, but I saw parking was $40 and I can only imagine that beers are $12+ and who knows about merch and other things.

Again, when people are making these decisions on going to a game, we have to ask the question: “Is this a good value compared to X?”

2. Will people continue to tune in?

The rationale has always been people can’t get enough football. Is that true?

If it is, what does that mean to other sports?

Or, will the NBA All-Star weekend drown out week 2’s games?

I think the advantage that the XFL has going for it is that Vince McMahon is a better marketer than most folks and he understands the need and power of storytelling, which is a powerful tool in building an audience. 

5. Be More Chill and Dear Evan Hansen can teach us a lesson about reaching younger audiences:

Everywhere I’ve gone in the world the last year or two I’ve had people talk with me about reaching new audiences.

In Australia, the concern that despite the population being incredibly diverse that audiences were getting “older and whiter”.

This week, I saw an article about how the Flyers audience is getting olderand they are working to bring in a younger audience.

And, I built a workshop called “Fans For Life” around the idea of managing the lifecycle of a fan in a way that enables you to do a better job of bringing fans to your venue.

The example of these two productions and the continued success of Hamilton in markets around the world shows that people still love theatre and are willing to check out new shows, we just have to be willing to allow the art form to reflect how people view art today and recognize that the internet and mobile devices have changed the ways that folks are going to engage with our content.

The lesson here is that we have to have a strong POV about what we are creating and why, but trust that our audiences are going to engage with our shows and productions in the way that they want to, not necessarily the way we want.

So to continue to sell tickets, we are going to have to continue to think through the ways that we deliver our content to our audiences. Be that online through chats, groups, and forums. Or, video, movies, and soundtracks. Everything is fair game today! 

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I posted my 100th podcast episode last week. New episodes will start rolling out in the next day or two. Do you have a suggestion for a future guest?

I’m hosting a workshop in NYC on April 1st. I’m bringing “Fans For Life: Creating and Keeping the Modern Fan” to NYC. 

I’m doing a FREE webinar on February 27th at 1 PM Eastern called “The Language of the Sale “. This webinar is built off of lessons learned during my sales trainings with sales teams around the world over the last 6 months and my own experiences creating new business opportunities. 

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