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Bundled Football Tickets, Video Game Systems, Music, and DVDs… Arrrg!

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Note To Businesses: Consumers Don't like Forced Bundling of Products

bundles.jpgWith football season coming up, my thoughts have started to slowly turn to blocking, blind-side blitzes, and blackouts. Recently tickets for next seasons AFC Championship rematch, New England Patriots vs. San Deigo Chargers went on sale. Though it's a mere 8-hour drive, I was prepared to call in and try my luck at getting tickets. Then a friend told me something that I couldn't believe. In order to purchase tickets for that game, you must buy tickets for two preseason games (see press release for details). If you are unfamiliar with preseason football games, the games are of little interest to fans. Typically the coach doesn't want to risk a big injury, so the players that will play 90% of the season only play 15% of the preseason game. Teams don't necessarily try to win as much as they try to evaluate the talent on their roster.

If I were to try to get the Patriots tickets, I'd surely have to try to sell them or not use them. Driving 8 hours one way for each of the games doesn't interest me - especially when one of them is the 4-12 Falcons from last year. I looked into the possibility of selling them, but a distant friend says that they generally only go for 25% of their face value. In the end, what the Chargers have done is carefully crafted a scheme to effectively raise ticket prices for the games in demand rather than lower the cost of the preseason tickets to a price that reflects the marketplace's demand. It doesn't sit well with me. I'd rather see them just charge different prices for the games. Maybe there are laws against variable ticket pricing or perhaps the NFL doesn't allow it. Either way, this is effectively the same thing.

It's not just football ticket bundling either. It's also:

  • Video Game System Bundling - Often video game systems will be released with a game bundle included. If you want the system, you better like the games that are bundled. If you don't, you might be waiting a long time to buy the system.
  • DVD Movie Bundling - One of my favorite shows is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. After releasing the seasons individually, they released Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Chosen Collection. This 40-disc collection has one DVD of "exclusive, never before seen extras." If you want the information on this DVD, you are going to have to pony up nearly $200. Sadly, I know a few people who will do just that.
  • Music - Greatest Hits Collections - I've fallen victim to this one myself. I used to love Aerosmith (still do, but not as fanatical as I once was). They have a couple of albums like Gems which is essentially a greatest hits collection. However, it adds the studio version of a song that was only previously released as a live version. They've repeated this formula a couple of times. It's pretty common, because studio executives know that fans of the band will by the album for that one song. Of course things are different now with everyone using iTunes.
  • Cable TV - In order to get FX and ESPN, one is often forced to buy a package of some 300 stations. You want high definition and a DVR? Well that requires another higher level of programming. Consumers say they want to pay only for the channels they watch. Cable execs say that it would be expensive as the popular channels subsidize the more niche channels. It's also good for them to say, "Your cable bill has only gone up 50% in the last 3 years and we've given you access to 300% more programming." It's just not programing that you care about.

It really comes down to money. Executives of companies have found some ways to get you and I to give them our money. They play with our emotions to make their sale. In some ways, I want to congratulate them on a well-devised plan. In the end, I have decided that such marketing has left a bad taste in my mouth. Perhaps that's why the iTunes store has been so successful - it's allowed people a way to escape the bundling of products.

Photo Credit: °Florian

Last updated on August 1, 2011.

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7 Responses to “Bundled Football Tickets, Video Game Systems, Music, and DVDs… Arrrg!”

  1. Seth says:

    Sometimes bundeling is good, sometimes it is bad for the customer. It can be good for some customers and bad for others. It depends. If only wanted the Greatest Hits (good for me), if you wanted a remix only of one of the songs bad for you.

    People seem to be really unhappy a plane ticket and checked baggage are no longer bundled

    I wrote about the economics of bundeling on my econ blog last week.
    http://sethgitter.blogspot.com/2008/07/perfect-storm-for-bbq-economics-of.html

  2. Ryan says:

    Fascinating insight into the success of iTunes. The idea of customizing a commodity (weather it be music, servers, autombiles) has huge market appeal. Our company, which builds implantable medical devices has spent alot of efforts to create devices that are more customizable to the individual patient needs with overwhenming response. About the game, walk your talk and find a good Pats bar in Frisco (I used meetup.com to find the best damn Sox fans west of the Mississippi to watch games with here in Minneapolis) enjoy the game with your own blood rather than being heckeled by the 18-1 chants at Qualcomm, save the $$$ you would waste on tickets, gas and $12 beers and go get yourself a Jerod Mayo jersey.

  3. Mrs. Micah says:

    Hmm, I’d probably ask those people who bought the DVD with extras if I could borrow it. I love Buffy extras, but I’d never pay that much for it.

    They should learn from iTunes. I’m sure plenty of Buffy fans would pony up the $20 or whatever.

  4. Jeff says:

    Variations of the Chargers ticket thing having been going on for years. The first I remember of it was years ago when the Vikings bundled preseason games or crappy home games (can’t remember which) with the Packers game. Since then, I’ve seen it done by a handful of other teams with the Packers game.

  5. hank says:

    Well absolutely – how else will the NFL pay ridiculous sums of money to people without charging JUST a little more – Take the latest Favre’s 20MIL offer the Pack is offering him to stay off the field?

    Pretty wild how it goes, eh? ;)

  6. Frog says:

    Fascinating insight into the success of iTunes. The idea of customizing a commodity (weather it be music, servers, autombiles) has huge market appeal. Our company, which builds implantable medical devices has spent alot of efforts to create devices that are more customizable to the individual patient needs with overwhenming response. About the game, walk your talk and find a good Pats bar in Frisco (I used meetup.com to find the best damn Sox fans west of the Mississippi to watch games with here in Minneapolis) enjoy the game with your own blood rather than being heckeled by the 18-1 chants at Qualcomm, save the $$$ you would waste on tickets, gas and $12 beers and go get yourself a Jerod Mayo jersey.

  7. Roy says:

    Good or not this bundeling depending on the needs and desires of each person. Also the price is also very decisive against a person’s interest. thanks for your sharing… :)

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