The Groupon Revolution Hits College Football

Posted on Thursday, August 25 2011

With college football starting a week from today, fans are gearing up for an exciting season and deciding on how to watch their favorite teams. Even in the age of HDTV, some people insist on the “at game” experience. For those fans, a new option is popping up on campuses throughout the nation.

Groupon, the world’s largest daily discount site, has partnered with over 30 colleges and universities over the past year to help sell tickets to football and basketball games. Each day people receive daily offers sent via email. Just today, Boston College (BC) offered $35.00 tickets for $10.00 to their choice of two home games during the upcoming football season. It’s a strategy that is achieving moderate success.

Last season, BC ran a similar promotion and sold 2,762 tickets. At Colorado University, $65 tickets for last season’s match-up with Iowa State were sold for $15. They sold 1,177 tickets in less than 24 hours. Texas Christian University officials say that their use of Groupon was a part of achieving two sellouts last season.

It’s all about capturing the casual fan. These promotions have worked because of the draw of inexpensive sports tickets. In this economy, cost has been a major barrier for people wanting to attend sporting events. Groupon eliminates that barrier. It works for the schools because, in nearly all cases, they are offering tickets to events that would not normally be well attended.

The issue that ticket offices face with the Groupon strategy is protecting their most loyal fans. Season ticket holders pay a pretty price for tickets and some of the Groupon deals, while for lower rung games, offer above average seats. To combat that, Boston College offered season ticket holders two free end zone tickets for their Groupon games.

The lesson for sports marketers, deep discount programs like Groupon with their enormous list of email subscribers (70 million worldwide) works when selling less desirable products. The lesson for sports fans, keep your eyes open for great deals.

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