Stanford in town for the big game? You may pay more for those tickets

A packed house for a Husky basketball game. Photo via the UW.

Organizations love the idea of variable or dynamic pricing, in part because they can make more money when demand is high for tickets.  Now, the University of Washington athletics department is going to give the concept a shot.

Beginning during the 2012-2013 UW men’s basketball season, the school plans to implement what’s known as the Sports & Entertainment Analytical Ticketing System (SEATS). Developed by Digonex, the offering will allow the UW to analyze ticket sales and buying patterns to set single game ticket prices.

That means you could pay more for games against Stanford and Oregon than you would for matchups against Jackson State and Cal Poly. If successful, the offering could be rolled out for UW football games next year.

In addition to demand for tickets, the SEATS offering analyzes things such as team performance, league position, opponent and scheduling. For example, a Wednesday night game against a non-league opponent who is in last place in their conference might draw a lower price.

The UW is the first Pac-12 school to implement the SEATS technology, and the second in the country in NCAA Division 1. The University of South Florida also uses the Digonex system.

“Digonex was the first company to do dynamic pricing for collegiate athletics and their ability to tailor to the different sports we offer and to adapt to our unique fan base made them the clear choice for us to start this program,” said David Gravenkemper, Assistant Athletic Director for Ticket Sales & Service at the UW.

Variable pricing is something we’ve seen in action before, most notably on airline tickets. But it also takes shape in other ways, including the tolls for crossing the SR-520 floating bridge at rush hour and Uber cab rides. (Remember the story of those folks who paid out the nose for a ride on New Year’s Eve).