Variable Pricing Is a No-Brainer

With the Super Bowl yesterday, we’re reminded of how the NFL is a juggernaut, culturally and commercially. Half the country watched the game, including tens of millions of people who don’t even like football!

This kind of power has a few funny effects, of course, and I think one of them has been a certain amount of arrogance about ticket sales. The NFL has, for a number of years, been such a ticket sales sure thing that even slight weaknesses draws out detractors with sharp knives.

But they’ve got a good point. In the last two or three years, the NFL has gone from a no-brainer sellout league to a league with excellent overall sales results but still quite a bit of variability. Prices have gone up and up and up, but the quality of the in-stadium experience has, let’s just say, not gotten better. Unless you’re visiting from a dystopian future resembling the world of Mad Max, in which case the experience is perfect for you.

So I’m not surprised to see variable pricing arrive in the NFL. It’s years overdue. The Lions, according to this Sports Business Journal article, are the first to implement them, but I saw just a day or two later that the Patriots (on the other end of the team performance spectrum traditionally from the lowly Lions) are doing some variable pricing, too.

Here’s the thing about variable pricing: It’s brilliant! A good variable pricing program on top of just intuition-based single pricing across all games/shows should get you a pretty automatic 10% to 20% increase in revenue. Why? Because obviously if you’re playing a good team at an attractive time you should sell that ticket for more than a weak team at a time when people aren’t as interested in going.

Translate this as you want to for whatever genre you’re in.

Baseball, basketball and hockey are already onto this, as are theater and performing arts to some degree.

Football, on the other hand, has let its success delay it from taking advantage of a very good idea. Don’t make your season ticket holders pay big bucks for some really bad preseason games they don’t want, but rather charge more for the big rival or the Monday night game. It just makes sense.

Revenue per seat, people. It’s all the rage, and variable pricing helps you get it higher!


Homepage Photo Credit: Detroit Lions Quarterback Matthew Stafford/Gavin Smith

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