S2E4: Ovunc Yilmaz - Data-Driven Ticket Pricing Strategies

Season 2 | Episode 4
15m | Oct 19, 2022

If you’ve ever bought tickets to a concert or sporting event, you know what it’s like to watch prices rise and fall – and to sweat over finding the perfect seats for your budget and enjoyment. Ovunc Yilmaz is an expert in the dynamic market of live events ticketing, and joins us to offer his insights into a $20 billion industry. 

Today on the podcast, he talks about the factors that influence ticket prices – from weather to proximity to a video screen – and the complicated ripple effects of secondary ticket markets. Ovunc also shares his research into innovative pricing strategies, and real-world advice for businesses in the live event industry.

Ovunc Yilmaz is an Assistant Professor of Operations at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado Boulder. He specializes in revenue management and pricing – particularly in the airline, hotel and event industries.


On the business of sports ticket sales…

[00:00:33] “In 2019, the North American professional sports market passed $70 billion in annual revenues and the ticket revenues… were almost $20 billion. They're one of the major revenue sources of this industry. Others being media rights, sponsorship and merchandising.”

On the unique challenge of matching supply to demand…

[00:01:11] “The pricing problem is a very complex one, because teams are selling tickets for highly differentiated seats. For football, you can think of a 50-yard line seat versus an End Zone seat. For basketball, you can think of right behind a team bench or those nosebleed seats that you can barely follow the game. Teams are also selling tickets for different types of games based on different opponents’ strengths, maybe some rivalries, pre-season, regular season, post season. And teams are also selling tickets to fans with different tastes. You can think of a die hard fan who has gone to every game… since they were five years old or someone who is in town for just a day… 

[00:02:28] And of course, with the digitization of ticketing, sports organizations, leagues, teams – they try to use this data to make more informed, better, pricing decisions and improve their gate revenue.”

On secondary markets in ticket sales…

[00:07:33] “Since the ticket resale is allowed, there exist the secondary markets of these tickets after they've been purchased from the primary market. These transactions in this market, the secondary market, may take place between just two friends like me and you, or in person near the venue, those kind old school scalpers, or through online secondary markets… 

[00:07:56] And although an average sports fan may think that most of these transactions in this market are just between two fans who happen to own tickets, the secondary market itself is actually now a $15 billion industry dominated by brokers.”


Guest’s Profile:

Ovunc Yilmaz Profile at Leeds School of Business 

More About the Guest:

Ovunc Yilmaz’s published research (personal website)

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Leeds Business Insights