The primary market is the face-value, original ticket offer from the team or venue. Never buy any ticket without checking availability and pricing from the primary market. If the event is sold out, then the secondary market is your only option.
Most teams now offer an exchange (which is a secondary market the primary market controls) co-mingled with its own source offers. You will almost certainly find tickets to your event when teams offer this option, but it is in fact just one of many secondary market options.
If you notice that there are a large number of unsold seats available, then it is prudent to check if season ticket holders are trying to sell their tickets below face value on the secondary market. This happens routinely for preseason games or late season games where the team is not in contention.
I never buy a ticket without checking the team’s website first, even if I believe the event is sold out.
The secondary market is any seller that is not the original issuer. It can be thought of as a wild west gunfight between all the players for control and profit. The secondary ticket market is a ruthless, multi-billion dollar industry that, despite all efforts, has yet to be completely tamed. However, the “good old days” of finding scalpers or someone with extra tickets is now rarely the solution. This battle is waged on the internet, with SEO, marketing, and innovation. As a consumer, this battle for control very much works in your favor. As long as no one entity wins, you will win. For a more lengthy discussion of the topic, please visit our blog.
In the secondary market, tickets to a sold out event now approach a commodity and usually sell for market price. Tickets that are priced too high normally will not sell because the internet makes it too easy to find the best prices. There is a price that people are willing to pay and a price that holders are willing to sell for, and secondary market websites and apps allow them find each other with an ever expanding set of tools. That being said, it is not a cut and dried process, and finding the best deal has an element of art to its science. If the best deal is important to you, you will need a strategy.
Primary Market: The team’s website or box office.
- The Team’s ticket exchange (security benefit and convenience)
- Marketplaces (websites and mobile apps that connect buyers and sellers) (StubHub, eBay, Craigslist, etc.)
- Ticket Brokers (hundreds of private operators that have tickets in their possession)
- Aggregators (websites and mobile apps that combine as many sources as possible in one place but direct you elsewhere for purchase) (SeatGeek, TicketNetwork, Vivid Seats, etc.)
- Innovators (while most reputable websites and apps fall into this category, there are a few with unique approaches)
- Scalpers (the secondary market in its purest form, it seems this option will always exist for its simplicity)
Identify your constraints
- When is the event? If you are purchasing far in advance, you have the most options but also the harder decisions. If it is only two days in advance or actually game time, your options become much more limited.
- How popular is the event? Is the event already sold out, or do you expect it to become sold out? Or can you walk up to the box office on game day?
- How important is it where you sit? Do you have to be close to the action, in the club, or just want to get in?
- Will you be on the road? If you will not be at home in the days leading up to the event, the ticket delivery options become critical.
- How important is convenience? If you are willing to pay a little extra for convenience, this will simplify your effort.
- How much risk are you willing to take? Although it is much smaller than widely believed, there is an element of risk that you will get bogus tickets, the wrong tickets, never get the tickets, or the event can be cancelled. These perils vary widely among the secondary market options. While these risks are quite real, they are not commonplace with reputable sources which includes any listed by name on this website. For a more lengthy discussion of the topic, please visit our blog.
The search order – Purchases more than two days in advance
- Check the official team outlets. This is a must for all purchases. However, before you commit, check a ticket aggregator for below face value tickets. If the official team channels do not have what you are looking for, keep looking.
- Check an aggregator website. A reputable aggregator does the search work for you. In addition to this, they offer tools to help you make good decisions. Most aggregators make their money not from you but through commission deals with the listed providers, so you can trust that the price is the same as you would find directly.
- Check the marketplaces. Tickets on eBay or Craigslist may not be shown by the aggregators, so you can always search for a solution here. Deals can be had, but they are not listed first for reasons of risk and effort. A marketplace like StubHub should be part of the aggregator’s search for advanced purchases, so no need to check there twice.
- Check your local ticket broker. Although antiquated, there are a large number of tickets held by brokers, who then feed all of the other sources and give up a share of the profits to do so. You can always try cutting out the middle man.
The search order – Purchases less than two days in advance
- Check the official team outlets. The team will always have an option for you no mater where you are or when you are.
- Check the StubHub marketplace. Other marketplaces are useless for late purchases, but StubHub does have instant download e-ticket delivery you can trust.
- Check with the innovators. There are apps that specialize in upgrades from within the event (Pogoseat), or in last minute tickets that do not need to be printed (Gametime). There are probably many others with an angle that may be useful to you.
- Check an aggregator website. You must be careful to check the delivery method and time frame (must say instant download and e-ticket delivery). Last minute tickets is an area where these sites do not necessarily shine and the trust factor goes down significantly.
- Scalpers. This is not recommended for reasons that should seem obvious, but the fact remains that they solve a lot of people’s problems in a very convenient way.
For detailed information, check our blog. Happy hunting.
When - Your options change as it closes in on game time.
Where - Check for your preferred delivery method: e-Ticket, Printed Ticket, Mobile Phone, etc.
Value - Look in more than one place to gain confidence in the price / location
Is there a mobile app specialized for your needs?
Scalpers - Do you feel lucky?