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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Over the last decade, tickets have transitioned out of the physical realm and, like so many other aspects of our lives, gone digital. Most are now purchased on and delivered to a mobile device, then scanned at the stadium.

Why it matters: Tickets were once mementos, collected like photographs and saved in scrapbooks. They are now barcodes on our phones — convenient as heck and impossible to lose yet, sadly, often forgotten about the moment they're scanned.

By the numbers: The percentage of transactions on mobile vs. desktop on ticket marketplace SeatGeek since 2012, per the company:

  • 2012: 7% mobile, 93% desktop
  • 2013: 27% mobile, 73% desktop
  • 2014: 43% mobile, 57% desktop
  • 2015: 52% mobile, 42% desktop
  • 2016: 58% mobile, 42% desktop
  • 2017: 62% mobile, 38% desktop
  • 2018: 65% mobile, 35% desktop
  • 2019: 68% mobile, 32% desktop

The impact: Mobile tickets are far more secure than paper tickets, since fraudsters could easily make copies of the same paper tickets and sell them. They are also more convenient.

"There is no more Guy in Charge of the Tickets, stuffing envelopes in his dining room, because fans now share tickets with one another on their phones rather than rendezvous at the giant bat outside old Yankee Stadium."
Steve Rushin, Sports Illustrated

The players: Ticketmaster, which runs the NFL Ticket Exchange, has long been the market leader in the initial sale of tickets. Meanwhile, Stubhub, SeatGeek, Vivid Seats, Gametime, Tickpick and others operate in the secondary market, where they connect sellers and buyers (some offer primary tickets, too).

  • To gain customer loyalty, some of those companies have focused on having the most inventory, while others have prioritized things like customer service, pricing transparency, mobile app design and partnerships with teams to become exclusive distributors.

The big picture: Now that fans don't have to print their tickets or get them in the mail, buying behavior has changed, leading to more week-of or even day-of purchases. In fact, Gametime built its whole business around this "last-minute fan."

  • Meanwhile, subscription ticketing is on the rise, as teams try to appeal to younger fans who yearn for flexibility. This Netflix-like approach has proven most successful for baseball, with more than two-thirds of MLB's 30 teams offering it.

What's next: With so many professional and college sports teams going fully digital, the in-stadium experience could eventually revolve around the digital ticket.

  • Armed with seat numbers and real-time data like digital wallet transactions and geolocation, teams are already creating personalized experiences and promotions for individual fans.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Biden to stress U.S. does not seek new Cold War in UN speech

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

President Biden will use his first address before the UN General Assembly to lay out his vision for an era of "intensive diplomacy" with allies and "vigorous competition" with great powers — without a Cold War with China.

Why it matters: Biden will take the podium in New York on Tuesday with his own international credibility in question after the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan. His administration also is struggling to build international momentum to fight climate change, the pandemic and rising authoritarianism.

4 hours ago - Health

Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as President Biden seeks commitments from countries to donate vaccines to the global COVAX initiative. He is expected to host a COVID summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week, and many of the countries attending have expressed frustration with the travel ban.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
4 hours ago - Economy & Business

Gen Z breaks into VC

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When Meagan Loyst joined VC firm Lerer Hippeau, less than two years out of Boston College, she was still living with her parents. She had virtually no online brand presence, and the pandemic made it impossible to build a professional network via in-person meetings.

Why it matters: Loyst wasn't alone. Venture firms have accelerated hiring in line with record deal activity, often seeking younger investors who can spot trends that fly below the radar (or intrinsic understanding) of older partners.