NFL ticket prices and sales data throughout the secondary market are about what is normally expected and even slightly higher, both week-to-week and over this same period a year ago.
Despite various news items throughout the weekend claiming U.S. President Donald Trump’s attack on NFL players was impacting the league’s ticket sales, major online ticketing companies say that notion is not supported by the overall data.
They say NFL ticket prices and sales data throughout the secondary market are about what is normally expected and even slightly higher, both week-to-week and over this same period a year ago.
“In any given week, it can be up or it can be down,’’ said Jesse Lawrence, president of TicketIQ in New York, which tracks ticket pricing across 90 percent of the nationwide secondary market. “But the fact the prices are so close, or even up from where they were, says to me that we haven’t seen a decrease in demand.’’
As for sales, TicketIQ has not seen a decline in volume from previous years either. TicketIQ’s data tracking includes the NFL Ticket Exchange — the largest single secondary sales entity for NFL tickets. While Lawrence’s company only tracks pricing — not actual sales — he says the two usually mirror each other.
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“It would be virtually unheard of for the prices to be up, but sales down,’’ he said. “If sales were down, people would be lowering their asking prices in order to get their tickets sold. But they aren’t lowering their prices. The prices are higher.’’
Chris Leyden, a spokesman for online resale giant SeatGeek, agrees the idea sales and pricing are down is false. Leyden said his company’s proprietary sales data shows no significant decrease despite Trump’s call for fans to boycott NFL games until players all agree to stand while the national anthem is played.
An initial Washington Examiner story last Thursday claimed the NFL was “feeling the ‘Trump Effect’ ’’ and cited as proof a 17.9 percent decrease in sales on New York-based online reseller TickPick on the Monday and Tuesday of last week ahead of Week 4 of the season. The company said the drop was far more than the 10.8 percent decline it experienced during the same period ahead of Week 4 a year ago.
Trump initially criticized players on the Friday before the bulk of Sunday’s Week 3 schedule and then called for the boycott two days later.
But TickPick has only a small share of the total NFL secondary sales market and told the Examiner within the story that it couldn’t specify whether the decrease was related to Trump’s comments or other factors.
TickPick spokesman Jonathan Gluskin reiterated Monday that: “We were clear on our end not to specify a reason for the decline.’’
Nevertheless, Breitbart News picked up the story Friday, claiming it showed that “the NFL has learned in one week what it took Hillary Clinton almost two years to find out, and that is, more people agree with Donald Trump.’’
By the weekend, a host of other right-leaning sites — including Townhall and The Blaze — had also run with the story about a major drop in NFL ticket sales because of Trump.
TicketIQ president Lawrence said nationwide price tracking by his company did show the average price of an NFL ticket dropped from $281 in Week 2 to $203 in Week 3. But Lawrence said that’s just typical for this point in the NFL season and that a drop in average ticket prices from $232 to $166 occurred last year between those same weeks.
In the days following the Week 3 games — right after Trump’s boycott call — Lawrence said the average list price of NFL tickets for Week 4 actually rose from $203 to $216. In all, Week 3 prices were up 22.29 percent and Week 4 prices up 5.37 percent over the corresponding periods a year ago.
Overall, he added, the average NFL ticket listing price this season is $247 compared to $202 after four weeks of last season — a jump of 22 percent.
“We haven’t seen a decrease in price,’’ he said. “That’s the simple story in and of itself.’’
On actual sales data, Lawrence said that SeatGeek would be far more reflective of what’s going on with NFL tickets than what the Examiner story cited. Lawrence said SeatGeek controls such vast amounts of ticket inventory that he would consider it “a good proxy for the overall NFL market.’’
And SeatGeek spokesman Leyden said “we haven’t really seen any noticeable impact’’ from Trump’s calls for a boycott. “Sales are about what they were prior to any sort of calls for a boycott,’’ he said. “Listing prices never really took a huge plunge. I mean, we typically see NFL ticket prices drop leading up to a game and there hasn’t been any more significant of a drop than average.’’
Leyden said the secondary market is far more reliable than the primary market for gauging the impact of current events on ticket demand — largely because most NFL primary sales are made to season-ticket holders months before the games.
And even if there was a noticeable drop in secondary market sales and pricing, he added, it’s difficult to attribute it to any one thing because the NFL only plays weekly games.
“If it’s bad weather in three cities that had games Sunday, we’d see prices plunge,’’ he said. “If it’s beautiful weather, we’d see prices go up.’’
Leyden added: “It doesn’t mean that people aren’t boycotting. But if they are boycotting, they are being evened out by people that are now interested in going to a game for a different reason.’’