Cheaper By the Groupon

If you’ve seen Groupon, you’ve noticed that their online offers, usually for restaurants and businesses, are generally given at a discount of between 50 and 90 percent. It’s those kinds of offers that have made Groupon one of the Internet’s newest and hottest things going, as well as has inspired competitors ranging from LivingSocial and Bloomspot to even discount offer ventures from Legacy Media, such as the Tampa Tribune’s “TribRewards.”

So what’s Groupon got up their sleeves next? How about offering discounts for concert tickets? Live Nation, by far the leading promoter of major rock concerts and other events, as well as owner of 117 venues worldwide, including the House of Blues chain; plus a fledgling record label; the artist-management firm Front Line Management; and the ticket-selling enterprise Ticketmaster, has been in a slump lately, with seats to many of their concerts left unsold due to high prices. Those unsold seats have been a big factor in Live Nation continuing to lose money.

With the usually-big summer concert season approaching, Live Nation has joined forces with Groupon to offer concert tickets at half off face value, on a limited-time-only basis.  The venture, called Groupon Live, is expected to launch just in time for that summer season, and will, according to Live Nation executive Michael Rapino, “help artists and others to reach ever larger audiences” while “driv[ing] value for fans” and provide venues “with another option for driving ticket sales across a wide range of events.”

So that $50 concert ticket could end up being worth a decent $25, maybe less. But I’m not sure I would expect those discounts to be available for every ticket or every event. Nor would I expect every act whose tour is promoted through Live Nation to agree to such discounts. But even so, it’s what many, myself included, think is a step in the right direction as far as concert ticket prices go.

And if there’s any chance that Groupon or some other similar company will go after major professional and collegiate sporting events, I wouldn’t be surprised. There are many who think tickets to such events are also overpriced, but know that to be a symptom of overpaid participants.

Let’s say you’re the Tampa Bay Rays, who, despite their success on the field, rank at or near the bottom for average attendance per home game in Major League Baseball. Your stadium, Tropicana Field, is the last domed stadium in the majors, and is in a not-too-reliable location west of downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. You want to fill the house up, at least for home games in which the Rays are hosting a team other than the Yankees or Red Sox, both of whom constantly sell out at the Rays’ home field.

True, you stage free rock concerts with well-known acts after some Saturday night home games, which help the attendance figures somewhat, and you also give away free goodies to people who show up, but what if you really want every last seat occupied? Using this example, a $50 lower-deck box seat to a Rays home game can be sold for $25 on Groupon. Likewise, a $12 “cheap seat” can go for $6.

Not every professional sports team will want to use Groupon Live, but it might be a good solution for those teams that are struggling to fill their stadiums and arenas. Do you think the time will come when tickets to every concert or sporting event will be cheaper by the Groupon?