The National Football League has proudly issued press releases annoucing the number of weeks where each team has sold out its home game, including some organizations that have been habitually non-sellout examples, like the Oakland Raiders.
In the case of the Raiders, this is the second year since their return that they've had more sellout games than non-sellout games, and they've had the worst record in the NFL until last Sunday. Why so many sellouts? It's not because people want to see the NFL's supposedly worst team, it's the secondary ticket market.
The rise of online ticket sales has changed the landscape of sellouts in the NFL. When this season started, RazorGator, an online ticket brokerage, came through and purchased the majority of Eagles seats, leaving none for public sale. Well, that's not quite fair, they were available publically, just through RazorGator. Some of the best seats went for over a grand. And the Eagles weren't the only NFL team bitten by the secondary ticket market.
While RazorGator's a brokerage, with StubHub.com, an online ticket market, everyone can be a ticket broker, charging whatever price, high or low. For example, one can get tickets to Sunday's Raiders / Steelers game for just $28. Yes, it's a nose-bleed seat, but it's below face value. But the simple fact that I can get such a ticket for cheap is a new development. It means that ticket prices are actually coming down.
Well, my theory on this is two fold-- at least for StubHub users -- that sellers are not all professional scalpers and really want to get rid of tickets, but for those who are pros, they may have an inventory they just want to dump. The result in either case is cheap tickets.
In fact, the tickets on Stubhub.com are generally lower than those sold on Craiglist, and safer, too. People using Craiglist have to meet the seller in person -- unless your lucky enough to find a post that links to a Stubhub-related website -- and risk being robbed by the seller or buyer. A problem that has worsened this year.
Still, one can get tickets to any NFL game. But when you go to a sold out game, and see sets of seats empty, you can both thank and blame the ticket broker who could not sell out his or her inventory. But their purchase of the tickets guarantees the rest of us will see NFL games on TV.