The Giants are using Austin-based qcue LLC
to price 2,000 upper-deck seats dynamically
using 20 different variables during 2009.
If you have been following the ticket pricing trends for MLB this off-season (see The Biz of Baseball's "Ticket Watch" section), it’s obvious that the vast majority of clubs are freezing, or lowering prices, and the San Francisco Giants are no exception.
The Giants are lowering prices on 28 percent of their seats, and another 27 percent will remain flat for 2009. But, it is 2,000 seats in the upper deck that may redefine how to lure fans, and at the same time, garner the best revenues possible during the recession.
The Giants have hired Austin, TX.-based qcue LLC to test a automated variable pricing system that may redefine how other clubs approach pricing structures in the years to come. As reported by Christopher Calnan of the Austin Business Journal, the system by qcue adjusts the cost of single-game tickets based on 20 variables that affect demand, such as the weather and the opposing team’s record. As further reported:
The Giants play in AT&T Park, which lists a seating capacity of 41,500. Last season’s average attendance reached 35,356, according to Business of Sports Network, an Oregon-based research company.
The Giants’ average ticket price was $22, and qcue’s system enables ticket prices to rise 100 percent or decrease 50 percent from face values, [qcue CEO Barry] Kahn said. That means an average ticket price could range from $11 to $44.
The payoff for qcue could be substantial. The start-up has a total of 6 employees, and was funded with less than $1 million in seed money. The company operates at the Austin Technology Incubator, a nonprofit division of UT that was founded in 1989.
Questions surround whether the Giants will draw in the post-Barry Bonds era. With Tim Lincecum winning the NL Cy Young Award, and the NL West being a weak division over the last couple of seasons, the advent of the Giants approach to pricing may be just the ticket for fans looking for entertainment options this coming season in the Bay Area. If fan reaction to the dynamic variable pricing program is positive, the club may apply the system to 12,000 to 15,000 seats.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
Don't forget to register and log in on The Biz of Baseball site to get updates via your in-box, and see information only logged in members can see.
Subscribe to The Biz of Baseball