For many years, Ticketmaster was the be all and end all for ticket sales. I remember my family being on the phone, on hold, with Ticketmaster for hours in order to get New York Rangers playoffs tickets. My friends would line up outside of Ticketmaster outlets on Route 17 in New Jersey on Saturday mornings to try and get wrestling tickets. When teams put tickets on sale, they went to Ticketmaster, and then they went to the public. Simple as that. But in recent years, that’s all changed. As Stubhub gained popularity a few years after its creation in 2000, the secondary ticket market went from being a few scuzzy looking guys standing outside an arena saying “need tickets?” under their breath into a viable, completely legitimate way of getting to events. Stubhub was able to let sellers set their price and let buyers pick exactly where they wanted to sit and at what price. Plus, they could buy the tickets whenever they pleased, so they didn’t have to wait in line for some arbitrary designated sale time. Ticketmaster’s heavy fees didn’t have to be tolerated any more, since Stubub become a great option for all buyers. Eventually, different teams formed partnerships with Stubhub, and gave Stubhub various amounts of tickets to sell on its own site instead of giving them all to Ticketmaster.
Now that Stubhub has been established for a while, other ticket services like SeatGeek are throwing their hat into the ring to offer the best ticket vending service possible. By aggregating every ticket offer from multiple websites and compiling the best deals, SeatGeek is going even further away from what Ticketmaster was originally offering. As different sites like these have added more and more features to help consumers make the right choice for their tickets, Ticketmaster has been left in the dust.
This week, Ticketmaster announced a partnership with Facebook that will allow people to see where their friends are sitting at an event before they purchase tickets. For example, if my buddies bought tickets for a game a month before I did, I’ll be able to see that when I’m buying my own tickets through Ticketmaster, and I’ll be able to sit as close to them as I can. This could mark an end to the time-honored tradition of calling a friend who’s at the game, standing up and awkwardly waving from your section in an attempt to get them to see you from across the arena.
(Side note for hockey fans only: On a scale of 1 to 10, how funny is it that the Calgary Herald chose Olli Jokinen, one of the biggest contract busts in recent memory, for the picture in the article I just linked to? I’m gonna go with a solid 7 or 8.)
Ticketmaster is usually the only place to offer seats for popular events at face value, unlike Stubhub, where prices for in-demand events are raised drastically by sellers. For less high profile events, there hasn’t been a reason to use Ticketmaster in years. But this social integration may be the first step to bring Ticketmaster back to the head of the ticket sales class. There’s still more work to be done, but this is a nice start.