The Big ScoreBig Experiment: Are ticket prices competitive?

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ScoreBig Extreme StackingUPDATE 10/14/16: Use Extreme Caution purchasing from ScoreBig!  In October 2016, ScoreBig encountered “an unexpected liquidity crisis” which lead to them ceasing operations temporarily.  Their communication to buyers at that time indicated that “there may be an issue regarding the continued validity of the tickets you purchased”.

Editor’s Note: Regular readers may remember that I introduced Anita, our Lab Manager, in the same post in which I introduced Extreme Stacking: Introducing Extreme Stacking (and our new Lab Manager). Since then, Anita has conducted experiments, kept the Lab table up to date, and contributed to our Extreme Stacking Page. Now, new experiments have come together to result in a potentially spectacular extreme stacking quadruple dip with ScoreBig. What follows is part 1 of a series researched and written by Anita…
-Frequent Miler (AKA Greg).

The Big ScoreBig Experiment, Part 1

By Anita, FM Lab Manager…

Event ticket seller ScoreBig offers rewards and bonuses through a variety of portals and partners, offering the tantalizing possibility of double, triple or even quadruple stacking of rewards.

Before we get into stacking opportunities, let’s take a look at the various ways you can shop at ScoreBig and how their pricing compares to other options.

How can ScoreBig beat box office prices?

ScoreBig isn’t like the other large online resellers such as StubHub and Seat Geek whose inventory primarily comes from individuals selling their own unused tickets. ScoreBig claims they sell excess inventory from the event provider, even for events that you think are sold out.

I’ve bought and sold tickets on StubHub and Seat Geek, so I tried to see if I could list some on ScoreBig. There isn’t a way to do it, so we definitely aren’t shopping from the typical season ticket holder overage or scalper population.

Venues and teams typically can’t offer excess inventory below face value without angering and alienating season ticket holders (and possibly violating guarantees made to those buyers) so if they expect less than a sell-out for an event, it would make sense to turn to a reseller such as ScoreBig to move the extra tickets.

Name A Ticket Price Option

ScoreBig has gotten lots of press for its Priceline-esque “Name A Ticket Price” bidding option. ScoreBig guarantees that you’ll pay less than box office prices when you purchase Name A Ticket Price tickets, and they say you can save up to 60% compared to box office prices.

For each event I checked, the price listed in red was indeed within a dollar or two of box office prices before fees.

Published Price Option

In addition to Name A Ticket Price options, ScoreBig offers published price tickets. These prices range from right at box office prices to significantly above box office price. The ones priced above box office are, as you might guess, high demand tickets that you can’t find at box office prices, so even though they are above face value you might find a decent deal.

Until a few months ago, ScoreBig had a price guarantee for published price tickets also. The guarantee was that you’d pay less than other online ticket resellers, excluding Seat Geek. (This guarantee has since been discontinued but you may still find archived references to it online. Although after agreeing to honor it for me based on my screen shot of the guarantee in their FAQ, I expect they’re scrubbing all references to it that they can find.) Because they excluded Seat Geek from that old guarantee, Seat Geek might offer the best place to check prices for your event.

The Curious Case of the Missing Name A Ticket Price Option

Every article and blog post I’d read about ScoreBig emphasized their Name A Ticket Price option, so I found it puzzling when none of the events I checked had any tickets available for bidding. None.

Through a good deal of trial and error, I eventually found that there are (at least) three different versions of the ScoreBig interface:

  1. “Unbranded” ScoreBig: Published prices only. A graph shows your chance of success when bidding even though no tickets are ever available to bid on.
  2. “Partner” ScoreBig: Published prices only. Airline or hotel logo in top right corner.
  3. “Name A Ticket Price”-enabled ScoreBig. Published prices plus bidding option. Ticketmaster logo in top right corner (unless in incognito mode).

The interfaces look fairly different. Below is the Southwest-linked version of ScoreBig. You’ll see a list of tickets available in specific sections and rows for purchase at a published price, and the number of partner miles you’ll earn on the purchase:

ScoreBig, 4:20, SW Partner Link

And here is the “Name A Ticket Price”-enabled version. The blue flags on the stadium map show the locations of published price tickets (prices on left in black), and the green sections indicate that you can bid on a ticket (maximum price in red, crossed out).

Score Big, TM interface showing NYOP 4:20

Can you really Score Big with ScoreBig?

It is beyond the scope of this post to recommend the best place overall to shop for event tickets, but I did try to determine if ScoreBig offered even remotely competitive prices compared to box office prices and other resellers.

The short answer is yes.

Sometimes resoundingly yes. For example, if you have some money to burn and you’re a Yankees fan, or a Royals fan in New York, or just a baseball fan, you can get a seat in the Delta Sky 360 Suite for almost half off box office prices:

Score Big Yankee Delta Sky Suite

The longer answer is that every set of tickets is different, but the prices on normal tickets were compellingly competitive enough to plunge deeper. The examples below show how ticket prices for three different events across the various ScoreBig interfaces compare to box office and StubHub. Prices are per ticket and include all fees. For each event, I compared prices in the same section (or range of sections in the case of Name A Ticket Price.)

Event 1 Event 2 Event 3 Event 4
Box Office $50 $52 $44 $42
Published Price
(NATP-Enabled ScoreBig)
$46 NA NA $39
Name A Ticket Price
(NATP-Enabled ScoreBig)
$39-$41 $36 $29 $28-29
Published Price
(Partner ScoreBig via Southwest)
$44 $36 NA $35-$41
Stubhub NA $43 $20 $32-$45

Note that in every case except for Event 3, the Name A Ticket Price option is the cheapest option.

Should you shop for Published Price or Name A Ticket Price?

Sometimes published price tickets will be your only option. You won’t find Name A Ticket Price seats available for Hamilton, or for most other sell-out events. Even for moderate demand events, the seat options are limited.

But if acceptable Name A Ticket Price seats are available for your event, I would definitely recommend bidding. In the experiments for this post using Name A Ticket Price, I got great deals.

However, there is a trade-off. When you use Name A Ticket Price, you won’t know which row you’re bidding on, or even which section. You bid on tickets in a designated group of 3 or 4 sections. When you purchase published price tickets, you’ll know the specific section and row.

Stay tuned for the next post for details about a possible hack to the Name A Ticket Price bidding process and how to save even more through Extreme Stacking!

This post was written by Anita, FM Lab Manger.  Anita actively researches new Extreme Stacking possibilities and maintains the Frequent Miler Laboratory page.
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