French Open Goes Secondary Ticketing Route


The secondary ticketing market is robust in just about every sport. But it has been quite slow to come around in the tennis world despite the fact that scalpers and brokers have long made a business out of the Grand Slams.

Things moved in right direction this morning as Viagogo, Europe’s leading secondary ticketing company, announced a deal with the French Tennis Federation that will make Viagogo the official ticket exchange of the French Open.

Before we break this down, I have to show you this great news release quote from Gilbert Ysern, managing director of the French Tennis Association:

“We are more determined than ever before to exterminate the plague of this black market.”

Love the choice of words. Obviously the deal will cut out the middleman and also allow the French Tennis Association to profit from the resale of their tickets.

Now, let’s interview Viagogo CEO Eric Baker about the deal.

Darren: How hard has it been to crack into the top tennis events and get official deals?

Baker:Very hard. This deal was tough, but in the end I think the French Tennis Association was pleased with the idea that we would help them democratize access to get the average fan off the Champs Elysees and into the venue. Wimbledon still hasn’t done a secondary ticketing deal and that means that in order to get a ticket to the men’s final you have to be a member of the royal family, the All England Club or be an employee of Nike. In fact, the folks at Wimbledon recently wanted to make it illegal to resell tickets. The deal happened with the FTT and the French Open because they realized that rather than try to legislate, litigate and threaten, the solution was to be a part of what is happening. I think Wimbledon will eventually follow.

Darren: How does this deal work?

Baker:I can’t give specifics, but most of our deals involve a flat sponsorship fee as well as a cut of transaction fees.

Darren: What does deal allow you to do in the future?

Baker:Well, it’s the biggest deal in France, which means a lot to us. When we started in 2006, the goal was to gain credibility by doing the deals with the biggest properties. We’ve done that. We came into England and got Manchester United. We came into Germany and did the deal with Bayern Munich. And now we’re in France with the folks at Roland Garros. We’ve signed the big brands we had to sign.

Darren: How is the secondary ticketing business doing in this tough economy?

Baker:Well, for fans it’s great. We’ve seen average prices coming down because people are willing to pay less and more and more people are trying to sell. It has been great for our business as well. We have more than one million tickets currently listed on the site, we do tens of millions of dollars in sales on a monthly basis and in our second full year of existence we did more than what StubHub did in its first three years combined.

Questions? Comments?