NY Yankees Do Fans A 'Favor' By Preventing Them From Printing Their Tickets At Home

from the evil-empire dept

As an avid sports fan, and more specifically an avid baseball fan, I can still remember the advent of home-printed tickets. My reaction was perhaps more elation than what was warranted, but having spent years going up to the Wrigley Field box office with my father and later my friends, the idea of being able to purchase tickets online and then print them at home in order to bypass the lines and go directly to the gate was exactly the kind of technological progress that, albeit small, meant something to me.

And now I’m apparently the right age to be witness to this very practice being rolled back in favor of mobile device tickets. Except, as we review exactly what the New York Yankees are doing in no longer allowing the use of print-at-home tickets, it seems clear that the team is doing this as a hamfisted attempt at controlling the secondary ticket market.

The team’s pitch to its fans via its updated ticket policy tries to position this move as one to combat fraud, of course.

As the Yankees are continuously striving to implement technological advances to provide our fans with a ticketing experience that is unparalleled, convenient, safe and secure, the Yankees are excited to announce, as a complement to traditional hard stock paper tickets, the availability of mobile ticketing for the 2016 baseball season. Print-at-home paper tickets (PDFs) are being discontinued so as to further combat fraud and counterfeiting of tickets associated with print-at-home paper tickets (PDFs). In addition to traditional hard stock paper tickets, the Yankees will be offering the opportunity for fans to receive mobile tickets on a fan’s Smartphone.

This certainly sounds good as a pitch, and there is little doubt that huxters selling fake printed tickets outside of the ballpark is indeed a pain in the ass. But just how big of a problem is it? The Yankees certainly aren’t saying, likely because that pitch isn’t really what this is all about. Via the analysis at Deadspin:

The Yankees would have you believe that eliminating print-at-home tickets is entirely motivated by a desire to prevent fraud, but the reality is that it has everything to do with the team’s partnership with Ticketmaster and ongoing war against StubHub. When ticket resellers use StubHub, they can sell the ticket for as little as they’d like, but Ticketmaster sets artificial price floors that prevent sellers from listing tickets below face value. This practice has recently been called out by the New York Attorney General, as it deprives fans the opportunity to buy tickets on a fair market.

The Yankees’ wish to avoid the realities of supply and demand is the reason the team touts Ticketmaster as its official resale partner, and this new anti-PDF policy is a blatant attempt at further undercutting StubHub. The Yankees can’t force anyone to use Ticketmaster instead of StubHub, but it can make using the latter a much bigger pain in the ass by eliminating printable tickets.

And so what was a pitch to combat fraud to benefit the customer devolves instead into the strong-arming of the customer to eliminate secondary market pricing. This sort of anti-competitive practice is an interesting move for an organization in a marketplace that relies heavily on having butts-in-seats in order to sell all kinds of other merchandise: team apparel, food, drink, mementos, etc. What the secondary market does for teams is, when the team is performing poorly or when ticket prices are out of line with demand, still allow those seats to be filled by fans buying at a lower price. Fans who still spend more money at the games than an empty seat would. The risk for the Yankees in this move isn’t only alienating and pissing off its fans, there is a true monetary risk as well if games end up with empty seats that would otherwise have been filled.

How much risk is this for a team like the Yankees that is so bursting with popularity? Probably not high, but it isn’t nil either. Meanwhile, the only benefit in the move for the team is building on the relationship with Ticketmaster by making the partner happy. I’m struggling to understand the calculus the team did, though, in concluding that the benefit in this instance was worth the risk.

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Companies: yankees

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Comments on “NY Yankees Do Fans A 'Favor' By Preventing Them From Printing Their Tickets At Home”

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24 Comments
Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Ohh for the decline and fall of Pro Sports

As an amateur sports fan (any sport without the influence of money or media) I accept the favor and wish a speedy decline to the Pro Sports phenomena.

I will be especially interested in the economists who follow the money that is no longer squandered on such trivialities. Where will it go?

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Ohh for the decline and fall of Pro Sports

Oh, oh, I just imagined economics as an amateur sport. I don’t imagine it would be very active (not too much running), but it would certainly offer significant competition.

The big question is how to keep score. In economics, even after the fact deciding the why of the how is not conclusive.

Maybe Mike would field a team.

OK, I will check my prescriptions and doses.

Anonymous Coward says:

I just heard on the radio last week that the MN Timberwolves (Basketball, I know, but who cares) are pulling the same stunt.

I still don’t understand why they would care since the original ticket holder purchased it at full price and the team wouldn’t recoup any more or less money from the secondary market as far as I know.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Because if there are a ton of tickets on the secondary market below face value, the team can’t sell tickets AT face value. By artificially limiting the secondary market, and not allowing sales below face value, those unsold tickets are once again a commodity, rather than a stack of unsold tickets. Purely garbage, and hopefully the NY attorney general will do something about it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Has anyone asked them, point blank, how big a problem printed-at-home ticket fraud is? As in, backed-by-figures, seats sold vs tickets redeemed?

And for that matter… I’ve not attended a professional sports game in my life. I understand that “ticket scalping” can be an issue at concerts. Can it be (is it) an issue at sports games?

Whatever (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The problem of print at home tickets is that it’s very easy to set your printer to make more than 1 copy at a time. You could give those copies to friends (or sell them) and each of the tickets would appear valid on it’s face. Home printing quality can vary as well, so it’s not easy to judge the validity of the ticket by it’s printing, paper, or other special marks (such as say a hologram on an official ticket). I could easily see where less scrupulous people in the market place would buy great seats, print extra copies of the seats, and try to scalp them on game day. Unless the park’s access system is totally real time and checks each printed ticket for single use, you could end up with a lot of extra people getting in.

So yes, it’s an issue of control – but one mostly related to the technology not being able to properly generate unique tickets that cannot easily be duplicated or faked.

Anonymous Coward says:

Easy way to make money

I follow a sports team that gives you a season pass.

Online, it gives you an option to reprint a ticket in case you’ve misplaced your (credit card sized with lanyard hole) pass, invalidating the pass for the match in question, replacing it with a fresh printed ticket and barcode that works at the turnstiles.

Each time you request to reprint, it invalidates all previous barcodes for your seat at that match. It’s saved me three times so far.

So, what’s to stop someone from printing a heap of different tickets with new barcodes, each invalidating the last?

The fact that each and every one of them is for that seat. Yes, you can pay in cash, but the team still has your address on file (where it sent the ticket). They asked for ID when you bought the ticket, and any complaints would lead in only one direction.

Back to you. Jail time for fraud for anyone who tries this shit. Stopping reprinting is a joke.

Anonymous Coward says:

Im pretty willing to believe the conspiracy-theory-esq claims here for this one, not the least reason being that gaming conventions such as PAX have had this reseller issue relatively solved for years. They have a number of electronic checking means to make sure an entrant is who they say they are – among which is attatching the purchasers names’ to the tickets and requiring ID and running a check when you get to the door
Its not 100% foolproof but it works for a hige percent of the time. Doesnt stop people from TRYING to resell, but sucks to be you when you buy one and get turned away at the door (as PAX go-ers can attest to seeing every so often). And god help you if you left your ticket at home- super hard to fix the issue cause of all the prevention measures

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