Warriors Sued By StubHub: Should You Care?

KCBS News Anchor Stan Bunger (who along with KCBS Sports Anchor Steve Bitker are the on-air duo known as KCBS Sports Fans) offers his unique sports analysis.

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Please forgive me if my Outrage-O-Meter needle stays stuck on zero after reading about StubHub’s lawsuit against Ticketmaster and the Warriors.

StubHub says the Warriors’ insistence that its ticketholders use Ticketmaster’s “Secondary Ticket Exchange” when reselling tickets is “anticompetitive.”

Smells like sour grapes to me. Let’s not forget that StubHub’s business is to collect nice, juicy commissions from both buyers and sellers of tickets (10% from the buyers and 15% from the seller) and that it has pretty well locked up the resale market for Major League Baseball tickets (and many others).

It’s part of the new economic reality of sports. A “ticket” is really just a digital blip to be bought and sold, perhaps multiple times. Oh sure, in the olden days, a guy with a spare pair of ducats for a big game might realize a profit selling them on the side. The profit? All his.

Now, the teams themselves adjust prices based on projected demand (yes, a Friday night Dodgers at Giants ticket will cost more than that Tuesday night visit by the Brewers).  And the MLB-StubHub agreement is so seamless that it all but guarantees any ticket owner who wants to move a few spares will wind up paying that 15% commission (no cap, by the way) to StubHub.

To be fair, StubHub does provide a valuable service. The alternative is highly limited: selling the actual hard-copy tickets person-to-person. With all due respect, you’d have to be a complete idiot to buy tickets that way because you have no way of knowing if that paper ticket is still valid (it’s the barcode that matters).

But the company’s complaint about the Warriors-Ticketmaster arrangement seems pretty whiny. If StubHub really wants that deal, I have to think a reduced commission structure might be a good place to start.

 

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