Sunday marks the start of the first annual NFL meetings in March since 2019. I will be arriving in Palm Beach on Sunday mid-afternoon. Tell me if you have any time to catch up.
NFL owners are expected to approve a contract extension with Ticketmaster next week that will allow the company to operate the league’s NFL Ticket Exchange through the 2026 season, four years past its current expiration date. after this season, sources tell me and my colleague Bret McCormick. The agreement maintains the “open architecture” approach launched in 2017, in which Ticketmaster’s Exchange acts as the hub of a primary commerce and resale network, including marketplaces operated by other Ticketing.
The rapid adoption of mobile tickets – from 10% in 2017 to almost 100% in 2021 – has sent the economics of the deal skyrocketing, sources said. Terms of the deal are not known, but the teams’ reduction of Ticketmaster’s new fee will more than double, sources said.
Value comes primarily from data. All of this mobile ticketing produces valuable customer insights, generating new leads, better trend analysis and insights to help club marketing and sponsorship sales. Additionally, mobile tickets are more resistant to fraud, and the abandonment of Ticketmaster’s previous exclusive relationship with the NFL has fostered competition, according to league executives. In a statement, Ticketmaster co-athlete director Clay Luter said they were “hopeful” to continue the relationship.
Customer adoption hasn’t been without its challenges, but most believe this rapid evolution has happened with only minimal disruption to fans.
SeatGeek and StubHub were known to have wanted the deal, sources said. In order to preserve the flexibility of future offers, the measure will prohibit teams from signing primary ticketing partnerships that last beyond March 2027 for the duration of this Ticketmaster extension. Currently, 29 of the 32 clubs use Ticketmaster as their primary ticketing partner (Cardinals, Cowboys and Saints use SeatGeek.)
Caesars’ promotion to subsidize purchases of Colts season tickets for fans who set up a new betting account was a tremendous success, Colts marketing manager Roger VanDerSnick told me. Over 2,500 season subscribers purchased over 7,000 tickets with a $500 credit from Caesars. This represents approximately 20% of the full list of subscription accounts.
“By far, this has been one of the most successful promotions we’ve ever done, both on the renewals side and on the new business side,” VanDerSnick said. “And frankly, it was a significant and solid promotion. We didn’t have to spin 10 different tactical things together.”
The $500 credit, promoted from November through late December, was available to anyone who purchased or renewed 2022 tickets, downloaded the Caesars app, created a new account and placed a $50 bet. Of course, ticket prices vary widely, but the $500 is 25% off a pair of $1,000 seats at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Wall Street has been alarmed by sports betting’s outrageous spending on customer acquisition. But it cost Caesars $1.25 million and spawned 2,000 new Caesars accounts – created by people already known to be avid sports fans. For context, the bookmaker gave away over $12 million in promotional bets in Arizona during the same period. “We know they’re most likely avid or very interested sports bettors,” VanDerSnick said. “So we have opportunities to do something more interesting with them during the season.”
The average buyer’s age was 42, about a decade younger than the building-wide average for Colts season ticket holders. This seems to coincide with a lower buy-per-account (less than 3 tickets per person), but the Colts are happy to find a connection with younger fans. About 2,000 were renewals and 500 were first-time buyers.
The NFL and NFLPA announce the pace of progress on better helmets. In the 2022 annual lab test results released today, five of the six newly created models were all ranked in the “best performing” group. This authorizes them to be used by NFL players.
Conversely, higher standards meant that six models that were approved in 2021 are now on a “not recommended” list. This is a blow to these manufacturers (Schutt, Xenith and Riddell, all of which also have models on the approved lists). These models are prohibited, except for the 76 players who already wore one, who can benefit from acquired rights this year.
The five new helmets that all made it into the “highest performing groups” include two from Vicis, two from Riddell and one from Schutt.
Incidentally, Vicis – which makes the top four models – continues to be a notable business turnaround story. I wrote about the company around this time last year. After a meteoric rise over the past decade, Vicis went into receivership and was acquired by Innovatus Capital for $2.85 million at the start of the pandemic. But the financiers wanted to see what the engineers could do without the rest of their business coming to mind.
What they did was make the four safest helmets in the NFL.
- Good luck to Ravens president Dick Cass, who will retire on April 1 and hand over the reins to Sashi Brown. “I’m really proud of how we’ve truly become an organization that people look up to with great pride,” Cass said at a joint press conference today. “It’s important in Baltimore. That’s important in any NFL city.”
- A fire at Empower Field in Mile High broke out today in a construction area near the East Club Lounge this afternoon, with smoke visible from much of the Denver metro area. There were no injuries, but the extent of the damage is still being assessed, team spokesman Patrick Smyth said.
- SBJ revealed the Champions 2022 class this week, and Joe Gibbs and Leigh Steinberg are among the winners. Gibbs led Washington to three Super Bowl titles in 12 seasons in his first stint with the team, while Steinberg was the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft eight times. The class also includes Fox Sports’ Larry Jones, who played a major role in Fox acquiring the broadcast rights for the NFC in the early 1990s.
- MKTG will continue to manage and activate the NFL credit card program when the program transitions from Barclays to Alliance Data’s Comenity Bank on March 31, reports my colleague Terry Lefton.
- The NFL has partnered with StatusPro to create a league-licensed VR simulation game, the first such VR title to be released by a major sports league. SportTechie’s Joe Lemire has the story.
- In this week’s “Sports Media Podcast,” Andrew Marchand and John Ourand discuss Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit agreeing to big deals to call “Thursday Night Football” with Amazon. Listen to the full episode here.
- Shadow Lion has been “the low-key, low-key creative agency behind every piece of content ‘Buccaneers QB Tom Brady’ has ever posted online,” according to Fox Sports’ Charlotte Wilder, who went into depth about how the relatively petite outfit created the Brady’s popular social presence.
- In 2021, Levi’s Stadium concession sales increased 23% over 2019 and fan satisfaction scores increased 13% during the season, in which the 49ers launched their closely watched plan to to include many concessions in the price of subscriptions. I spoke with 49ers chief strategy officer Moon Javaid for this week’s magazine about the success of the first year.