Data Visualizations
from SeatSmart

The Super Bowl, The Secondary Ticket Market, and How to Win When Buying Event Tickets

So your team made it to the Super Bowl and you’ve got your heart set on being there no matter what. Even if you’re in the nosebleeds, you’re going to show up and support your team.

For most sports fans, unless you’re made of money, it just isn’t that simple.

Going to the Super Bowl is ridiculously expensive. There’s airfare, which will likely set you back a thousand bucks or more round trip. There’s the hotel, whose per-night prices will be through the roof that weekend. In most cases parking passes are at least $100 bucks, and you can bet Uber surge pricing will be in full effect on game day. And finally, there’s the cost we’ll be looking at today – tickets.

Buying Tickets? Here Are Your Options.
When you buy on the secondary market (you’ll probably have to do this to score Super Bowl tickets), there are quite a few options to choose from. Today we’ll take a look at some of the most popular sites. Our selection includes:

  • StubHub
  • RazorGator
  • Vivid Seats
  • TicketNetwork

Generally, these sites are selling the exact same tickets, just at different prices. To decide which site to buy from, you’d have to compare each specific set of tickets on each site. I did the research across our four popular sites, for a pair of Super Bowl tickets in Section 110, Row 12. I also threw in the price from a ticket brokerage by the name of Sherry’s Tickettown. Take a look. (Data for the following three charts was collected on January 23rd, 2015.)

Section 110 Row 12 with Sherry

That’s five different prices from five different sources. The difference between the highest and lowest prices – $3,590. That’s a 23% difference for the exact same tickets. Let’s take a look at another set of tickets. How about the five tickets in Section 106, Row 1?

Section 106 Row 1 with Any
This time, Vivid Seats has the highest price, at $46,230, while a different brokerage, Any Tickets, has the same set of seats for $40,000. That’s a $6,230 price difference between the highest and lowest prices. For good measure, let’s look at one last comparison. This time, it’s a set of 4 tickets in Section 107, Row 32.

Section 107 Row 32 with Best

Here we see that StubHub is back on top, with a price of $36,880, while Best Tickets, yet another ticket broker, is a ridiculous $9,080 cheaper – a 32% difference! Even when compared to the next cheapest option, Vivid Seats, Best Tickets is $4,809 cheaper.

How can this be? Why are these sites all selling the exact same tickets at such drastically different prices? Where do those tickets come from?

What The Hell Is Going On?
Obviously paying such a huge premium is not okay. Unfortunately for many shoppers, it is a nearly unavoidable reality. Here’s why:

1. There are thousands of brokers across the nation. Most of them don’t do very much marketing or advertising if any at all. Your chances of finding a broker are not particularly high. Even if you do find a broker, there’s no guarantee that they have the exact tickets you want to purchase.
2. Brokers know that you probably won’t find them. With that in mind, the best way for them to sell their tickets is to upload them to sites like StubHub. Here, a broker’s tickets have a much better chance of selling.
3. When a broker uploads their tickets to StubHub or a similar site, the site tacks on a markup. This is the reason why you have to pay a premium when shopping with these sites.
4. Most of the time, when you buy a broker’s tickets off StubHub or a similar site, you never find out who the broker is. The site you buy from keeps you to themselves, further distancing you from the broker whose tickets you purchased.

Basically, we can sum up those four points like this: In most cases, ticket brokers offer you the best deal on tickets. Sites like StubHub stand between you and the ticket brokers’ price. Therefore, sites like StubHub stand between you and the best deal.

What Can You Do About It?
Full transparency, I cheated when I made those price comparison charts. Here at SeatSmart, I have an advantage over the everyday shopper in that I can see which broker owns which tickets. That’s how I knew that Sherry’s Tickettown owns the Super Bowl tickets in Section 110, Row 12, Any Tickets owns the seats in Section 106, Row 1, and Best Tickets owns the seats in Section 107, Row 32. Since these brokers own those particular seats, I know that they are the cheapest source for those seats.

Before reading this article, you’d likely never heard of any of those brokers. Chances are you never would have known that shopping with them was even an option. For the tickets in our pricing chart above, that leaves you paying anywhere from $1,214 to $9,080 more than you need to.

There are sites out there that can help ease the pain, like SeatGeek, but even they don’t bring you the broker’s price. SeatGeek connects you to the marketplace that is applying the lowest markup. SeatGeek’s price for our example Section 110, Row 12 Super Bowl tickets is $16,034. That’s still $1,034 more expensive than Sherry’s price.

You, the shopper, are left with your hands tied at this point. You know that buying from the popular marketplaces means paying more than you need to, but you also realize that finding the cheapest source for the tickets you want is incredibly difficult, if not impossible. Short of discovering a direct broker-to-fan ticket marketplace, you’re forced to bite the bullet and pay a premium price.

The Only Direct Broker-To-Fan Ticket Marketplace
At this point, as you may have guessed, the article takes a turn into the realm of the unabashedly self-promotional. SeatSmart is that direct broker-to-fan ticket marketplace, and it brings you the broker’s price (the lowest price) on $100 million worth of Preferred Inventory tickets. In comparison to StubHub, SeatSmart saves you an average of about 19% on tickets to NBA, MLB and NHL games. Below, how the average savings look for each pro league. NBA first: (Data for the following charts was collected on January 25th, 2015)

On average, SeatSmart Preferred Inventory saves fans 18.89% on NBA tickets. For a ticket that’s listed at $350 on StubHub, that’s an instant savings of $65 just by shopping SeatSmart’s Preferred Inventory. New Orleans Pelicans fans stand to save 35% with SeatSmart compared to StubHub. For a $350 ticket, Pelicans fans can subtract $122.50.

The Memphis Grizzlies game on March 3rd has the very best deals on the remaining NBA schedule, with average savings of 69%. That means fans can take a massive $241 dollars off of our $350 StubHub ticket, ending at a final price of $109.

Now let’s look at Major League Baseball. Baseball is not in season at the moment, so not every ticket has been uploaded. For this reason, some teams are showing 0% savings. As MLB season draws closer, savings will become available for all teams.

MLB Prices Final

On average, MLB tickets are 22.41% cheaper on SeatSmart than on StubHub. That means that our $350 StubHub ticket would cost just over $270 dollars on SeatSmart. The Reds and Rockies share the top spot as far as savings. Both are 30.11% cheaper on SeatSmart. A $350 ticket on StubHub for these teams only costs $225 on SeatSmart.

The single game with the greatest savings is the Blue Jays game agains the Red Sox on May 9th at 61%. Fans would save $213 on a ticket priced at $350 on StubHub, leaving them to pay just $137.

On to the NHL.

NHL Prices Final


NHL tickets are 15.67% cheaper on SeatSmart than on StubHub. That’s $55 off of our $350 StubHub ticket. SeatSmart offers the greatest savings on Edmonton Oilers tickets. In comparison to StubHub, SeatSmart is 33.67% cheaper on average for the Oilers. There are two Oilers game with an average discount of 38%, first against the Sabres on January 20th, then against the Penguins on February 4th. 38% is good for $133 off of a $350 ticket.


SeatSmart offers savings not only for pro sporting events, but for major concerts and theater events as well. Visit to discover just how much you can save.

Comments (1)

  1. Janet Shoffner - Reply

    January 29, 2015 at 4:38 am

    very good comparisons and will for sure look at this website when I need tickets.

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