Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Pet peeve

Ok, this is not actually topical at the moment, but I heard it mentioned on the radio this morning, and it irritated me (as it always does). So let me just address it (again? have I written about this before?) today.

NFL football teams sell season-ticket packages. In those packages, they sell tickets to eight home regular season games and two home preseason games. That's the package - if you want to buy it, that's what you buy. Obviously, the tickets to preseason games are not as valuable a commodity as the tickets to the regular season games, but they're all in the package, and the teams tend to charge a "per-game" price that's the same for all ten of the games. Which leads to fan complaints and media pontification (this is a big Peter King hobby-horse every August) about how the NFL is ripping off its fans. (The comment that spurred this this morning was Gerry Callahan's comment that "the NFL is fleecing its most loyal fans.")

Here's the thing - the teams put a package together and offer it for sale. No one has to buy the package. No one who doesn't feel that the value in the package is worth the price of the package has to pay it. If someone buys the package, it's foolish and pointless to complain that "the Patriots made me buy tickets to the preseason games." No one made him buy anything. The preseason games were part of the package.

Consider the following three ticket packages.

Package 1: Tickets to eight regular season games, $125 each, and tickets to two preseason game at no charge. Total cost: $1000

Package 2: Tickets to eight regular season games and two preseason games, ten games total, $100 each. Total cost: $1000

Package 3: Tickets to four regular season games, $250 each, and tickets to four regular season games and two preseason games as a "bonus" at no charge. Total cost: $1000
Under the Gerry Callahan/Peter King logic, a team offering package 2 ($1000 for the ten games) is ripping off its fans by forcing them to buy preseason tickets that they don't want, but a team offering package 1 ($1000 for the ten games) would be doing the right thing by its customers, since they aren't making anyone buy those preseason tickets, but are giving them away instead. A team offering package 3 ($1000 for the ten games) would presumably be praiseworthy.

Obviously, that's idiocy. People buy season ticket packages because the total utility to them of the package is worth the total cost of the package. It doesn't matter what the individual game pricing is for any of the games - what matters is the cost of the package and the value of the package to them. If the perceived value exceeds the cost they buy, if the cost exceeds the perceived value they don't. Period.

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