The NFL American football league is on track to becoming fully digital for the 2018-19 season, through its partnership with Ticketmaster.

In a deal that was announced last autumn, Ticketmaster expanded its relationship with the NFL in a move that would provide it with an open architecture, fully digital ticketing system.

Ticketmaster Presence, will be installed at every NFL venue for the upcoming season and will be used for both games and any shows or concerts that take place within those venues.

Presence operates on NFC or RFID technology,  though there will also be a “paper” option for users concerned they may run into those all-encompassing “phone issues.”

“We actually did build a paper instrument that we call a Ticketmaster ‘Smart Ticket,’” said Ticketmaster’s chief product officer for North America, Justin Burleigh, according to CBS Local. 

“It’s about the size of a business card but it doesn’t have a barcode on it. It has an RFID chip in it. You have the same kind of tap-and-go experience you would have with your phone, like Apple Pay, but with a piece of paper instead.”

Ticketmaster will continue to power the official NFL resale marketplace, the NFL Ticket Exchange, which will be migrated into the fully integrated primary and resale platform on Ticketmaster’s website.

Image: Ticketmaster 

According to CBS Local, Burleigh said the reason behind the move to digital tickets is twofold.

“Our industry has fundamentally always been plagued by issues that are at the core of ticketing, which are anonymity and fraud,” said Burleigh in a recent phone interview.

“We’ve talked for a while over the last year about a case study at Orlando City’s soccer stadium, where they just went completely digital. They went from about 120 cases of fraud per game to 0. They had no fraud for an entire season and for us, that’s one of the most important metrics of the shift.”

According to Ticketmaster, their Presence system was in use for about 75 per cent of tickets scanned at this year’s College Football Playoffs and 85 per cent of those scanned at this year’s NHL All-Star game in Tampa. In addition, eight NBA venues have gone fully digital.

“In the Presence platform, we don’t store any details about you. We store your section, your row, your seat, your token value, and then when a club wants to engage with you, they’ll go into their own customer database to engage with you,” said Burleigh.

“We’re pretty tight with how we control access to the data and how we let the data follow on in that lifecycle. Security is absolutely top of mind for us.”

Image: CarinaKrammer