The NFL has agreed not to require its teams to set minimum prices in ticket resale marketplaces as part of a settlement with several state attorneys general. The settlement caps an investigation that was initially launched by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman into possible antitrust violations involving the NFL’s implementation of resale price floors, the practice of putting a lower limit on ticket prices to ensure they are not sold for less than a set value.
The NFL encouraged individuals interested in selling tickets to do so on the NFL Ticket Exchange, a marketplace operated by Ticketmaster. The NFL Ticket Exchange thereby could prevent sales below the face value of the ticket, as a means of generating additional revenue. Because some teams require ticket holders to use the league-promoted platform, even sellers who would be willing to sell for less could not do so. Instead, fans were forced to pay a minimum price for all NFL games.
The resolution with Florida, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia is designed to make it easier for fans to find tickets at lower costs on the re-sale market. It also includes an agreement that the NFL will pay approximately $100,000 to cover the cost of the multistate investigation. The NFL admitted to no wrongdoing and paid no other financial penalties. But whether that means cheaper seats for NFL fans is uncertain, since teams will still be allowed to individually set minimum re-sale prices if they desire (although they must inform ticket sellers when a price floor is set).
It remains to be seen whether state attorneys generals take issue with other existing price floors. Just this past summer, the New York Yankees settled a longstanding disagreement with StubHub over the use of price floors. StubHub, who initially was adverse to any price floor, has agreed to set floors at 50% of a ticket’s price at the season ticket rate. StubHub will reportedly now be the primary fan-to-fan ticket resale site for the Yankees.