Yankees end relationship with StubHub

MLB officially re-upped their agreement with StubHub yesterday, and to exactly no one’s surprise the Yankees joined the Angels and the Cubs in opting out of the agreement. Instead, they’ll be using Ticketmaster as their official re-seller in a move that the team called “fan friendly,” which caused George Orwell to rise out of his grave in admiration.

Let’s be clear: there’s nothing fan friendly about this decision, and there’s not supposed to be. The Yankees have had StubHub in their sights for some time now, specifically because of the brand’s association with cheap tickets. The Yankees blamed this for their sparse and stoic crowds, but that’s ridiculous. As a basic matter of fact, lower ticket prices means higher demand for tickets, so if StubHub were really having that big of an impact it should be creating higher numbers at the turnstile, not lower. The “problem,” such as it were, is that the common fans awareness of StubHub as a destination for below face value tickets for non-premium games meant fewer people going to the Yankees and paying face value for those tickets, and apparently was leading some season ticket holders to wonder if they were being played for fools.

Making this decision even more appalling is the fact that StubHub made some major concessions to MLB in order to renew the deal, setting a minimum ticket price of $6 and increasing the blackout period to buying tickets to six hours before the start of a game.

So here’s the basics in terms of what this means: the upshot is that the Yankees will get a bigger cut of each ticket sold through Ticketmaster than they did through StubHub, and that fans looking for last minute tickets to a game will be forced to purchase them for face value from the team, instead of getting the actual market price through StubHub. The downside is that it’s going to get much more expensive, perhaps prohibitively so, for the prototypical average fan to get tickets to Yankee Stadium.

But at least all of that additional ticket revenue will get re-invested in the team.

About Brien Jackson

Born in Southwestern Ohio and currently residing on the Chesapeake Bay, Brien is a former editor-in-chief of IIATMS who now spends most of his time sitting on his deck watching his tomatoes ripen and consuming far more MLB Network programming than is safe for one's health or sanity.

34 thoughts on “Yankees end relationship with StubHub

  1. Ugh, stubhub sometimes had some decent seats for not a bad price in the few days before a game. I guess Craigslist it is, which usually has some nice deals esp the day before from season ticket holders looking to desperately unload.

  2. so you can't get a ticket from StubHub until 6 HOURS before the game? AND there's a minimum price of $6 now?

    And that wasn't good enough for the Yankees?

    It's a good thing I don't live in the NYC area – if I did, I'd be pizzed. As it is – this will just keep me from seeing them when they come to play the Twins. I really don't see me driving 4 hours to see them if I can't even be sure of a ticket until 6 hours before the game.

    Say hello to more empty seats, Hank and Hal.

  3. How do you know it's not a fan friendly agreement without the details?

    An important distinction needs to be made between season ticket holders and individual game sales. Both represent fans, but have very different interests. Because the Yankees make more money from the former, it's very reasonable for them to consider the concerns of those who are season ticket holders (for full disclosure, I have a partial plan).

    Even though fans buying individual games have benefited from the lower prices to certain games, the season ticket holder has been hammered by Stub Hub's algorithm, which gradually lowers prices until the sale deadline. This system greatly favors the buyer because the seller has an expiring asset. With tickets often still available at the box office, the buyer has no choice but to keep lowering the price or risk getting nothing. That might sound like fair market practice, but in most cases, sellers are not the sophisticated entities usually participating in supply and demand arrangements. In a real market, having so many small participants operating under an inefficient pricing model would lead to many going out of business. In the season ticket example, that means several licensees not renewing their subscription. That's why the Yankees had little choice but to address the StubHub issue by finding a secondary market that is more friendly to season ticket holders.

    Your assertion about StubHub's impact on ticket demand is also off base. StubHub is a secondary market. Lower prices on it increases demand for tickets already sold, which doesn’t add to attendance. In addition, lower resale prices detract from the season ticket license, potentially leading to cancellations. Finally, knowing that tickets can be purchased for cheaper leads to fewer individual primary sales. In other words, low prices on a secondary market cannibalize and even discourage primary sales.

    By no means is this an appalling decision, especially not until the terms of the TM platform unveiled. The Yankees have every right, in fact a responsibility, to protect the value of their season ticket licenses, and StubHub was causing erosion. According to my ticket rep, TM’s fees will be lower and the price protections will be stronger. That means season ticket holders won’t take a bath on re-sale. Will those looking to poach extremely tickets take a hit. Yes, but the system was heavily skewed in their favor anyway. What’s more, if TM does not live up to the fan friendly promise, tickets can still be listed on SH, just without barcode delivery.

    It’s easy to gripe about this deal, but if you really dig into the details (many of which will soon be revealed), I think it will be a solid compromise for the team’s different fan constituencies. At the very least, judgment should be reserved until all the facts are revealed.

  4. I don't see the big deal. The front office does something to calm the emotions of season ticket holders who they rely on for a majority of the higher end seats. For the fan who only goes to a few games a year, you can either pay face value or go the cheaper/riskier route of getting tickets off craigslist or scalp. The reactions on other boards makes it sound like "fans" are getting screwed over. Tickets are what they are. Pay or don't go. Some of the loudest complainers I have heard about ticket prices also admit to going to NFL games on a regular basis. Yeah, cuz the NFL is so cheap.

  5. Well hey guys, this should mean more revenue for the Yankees. I bet they'll increase payroll to improve the product on the field! Right???

  6. They've been so fan unfriendly that I've only been to 1 game at the new stadium and I have zero interest in returning. Not that it's anything new but I can literally buy a 12 pack of beer for the price of 1 at the stadium, add to that the cost of a ticket where I can admire the empty box seats below…. no thanks. TV is fine

  7. Reading between the lines, this does probably help season-ticket holders when off-loading tickets (and not taking as much of a loss on those tickets). Fans looking for individual game purchases might be decreased due to increases costs with getting tickets. (Ticketmaster is not usually associated with being buyer friendly since they add their own charges to the tickets.)

    Frankly, I've been amazed with how much the Yankees have been asking for tickets in the new stadium. If the supply continues to exceed the market's willingness to pay, then they will eventually lower the price if they don't want the stadium to be only partially filled.

    Here's hoping that happens sooner than later.

  8. TM or Stubhub? Who cares? Look, the Yankees are now run by the Business Admin 101 crowd. Why pay so much for a ticket to see a team not built to win it all. The 2013 Yankees will be lucky to win 90 games – perhaps their master marketing plan is promoting geritol and AARP?

  9. Is the Stubhub market for the 12.12.12 concert skewed to the buyers? I think not! The prices on Stubhub reflect the strong demand for the event. The Yankees have their own $5 ticket specials every season, they need to look in the mirror for who to blame for the race to the bottom. Have the Yankees agreed to stop selling $5 ticket specials. Why should they allowed to sell at $5 if no on else can.

  10. Why is it that New York teams hate it so much when their fans go to games? It's like their primary motivation is to repel as many fans as possible.

  11. First they built a "moat" around the deluxe seat just to remind me that I am not worthy of ever sitting close to the field. It is the one most deliberate "caste" system structure in our country. We must have a moat to keep the peasants away from the wealthy. Now they take away the only way I can afford to go to a game. Thie "new" Yankee fan in attendance is not the people who were in the old stadium. Another era of sports has gone by the boards.