Women's sports, NFL's Swift bump and Messi helped define a big year in ticket sales, StubHub says

Addison O’Grady #44 of the Iowa Hawkeyes rebounds against LaDazhia Williams #0 of the LSU Lady Tigers during the 2023 NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament National Championship at American Airlines Center on April 2, 2023 in Dallas, Texas.

C. Morgan Engel | Ncaa Photos | Getty Images

Women’s sports had a banner year in 2023, according to a new report released by StubHub on Wednesday.

Ticket sales for women’s sports on the platform boomed to record growth, according to the resale site’s Year in Live Experiences report.

Nowhere was that more true than in college sports. Demand for women’s basketball Final Four tickets on StubHub was higher than it was for men’s basketball Final Four seats for the first time, as the LSU Lady Tigers went on to win their first NCAA championship. Total sales were six times higher than in last year’s women’s tournament, and ticket prices were 15% higher than in the 2023 men’s Final Four.

Football often dominates the U.S. sports landscape, but don’t tell that to Nebraska. The Nebraska Cornhuskers women’s volleyball team fetched a 60% higher average ticket price on StubHub than Cornhuskers football did this year.

Nebraska’s matchup against the University of Nebraska Omaha Mavericks on Aug. 30 set the world record for women’s sports attendance with 92,003 fans. Stubhub said it was the site’s bestselling volleyball game ever.

“It doesn’t matter what sport, college sports have seen a massive uptick in demand across all live events, and certainly on the women’s side,” said Adam Budelli, a StubHub spokesperson.

The WNBA also scored big in 2023, as attendance rose 16% and viewership jumped 21% year over year, the league’s most-watched season in 21 years. Trends on StubHub mirrored the league’s broader success.

StubHub said overall ticket sales for the 2023 WNBA season more than doubled from the prior year. Sales for the Las Vegas Aces’ WNBA Finals victory over the New York Liberty were StubHub’s highest ever for the league’s championship series, tripling from the previous season.

Women’s soccer was also on a roll. As the National Women’s Soccer League breaks new milestones in areas from attendance to viewership and team valuations, Stubhub said ticket sales for the season doubled those from 2022. Angel City FC, the team owned by celebrities such as Natalie Portman and Serena Williams, was the highest-selling club on the platform, as sales spiked 62% compared with 2022.

Finally, sales for women’s tennis jumped 30% versus 2022, as the number of tickets sold climbed 42%. Once Coco Gauff secured her spot in the U.S. Open finals, total sales increased 20% overnight, StubHub said.

StubHub saw several other key trends emerge in what it called a strong year for sports ticket sales.

The Messi effect is real

Inter Miami forward Lionel Messi (10) celebrates after scoring a goal against Orlando City in the first half of a Leagues Cup Round of 32 match at DRV PNK Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2023, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Matias J. Ocner | Miami Herald | Getty Images

Lionel Messi’s U.S. debut captured the world’s attention — and ticket buyers’ wallets. Stubhub saw average ticket prices for Inter Miami games nearly triple after the superstar signed with the team in June.

Not surprisingly, Inter Miami rose to become the bestselling club, outselling the No. 2 team, LAFC, by 85%.

Messi wasn’t just good for Miami. He also helped drive ticket sales on the road. For example, LAFC averaged about $145 per ticket on StubHub for the season — when the team hosted Inter Miami, the average price rose to more than $800.

Budelli said StubHub expects MLS sales will increase again next year, particularly among international fans.

The NFL (Taylor’s Version)

Taylor Swift and Brittany Mahomes react during a game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium on October 22, 2023 in Kansas City, Missouri.

David Eulitt | Getty Images

Taylor Swift’s influence on the NFL season — not to mention her dominance of the music world — showed in StubHub’s data.

“Taylor Swift is certainly the story of 2023 whether it’s her own tour or the excitement she brought the NFL,” Budelli said.

The pop singer’s relationship with tight end Travis Kelce meant America’s sweetheart was a frequent guest at Kansas City Chiefs games. The “Blank Space” singer not only helped TV ratings, but also ticket sales.

After Swift’s first appearance at the Sept. 24 Chiefs game, StubHub saw sales for Chiefs home games more than triple.

Off the football field, Swift’s Eras Tour was the biggest in StubHub’s history. She was also the most searched act in 2023.

Looking ahead to 2024, StubHub is banking on another strong year of Swift sales, as U.S. buyers account for over half of tickets purchased for Swift’s international shows in 2024 on StubHub and viagogo, another platform StubHub owns.

Vegas in the spotlight

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz of Spain drives past the Sphere during the F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix on Saturday, November 18, 2023 on the Las Vegas Street Circuit in Las Vegas, NV.

Icon Sportswire | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images

The ticketing company said it is paying close attention in 2024 to Las Vegas, which will hold its first Super Bowl next year.

Sin City vaulted into the sports scene in recent years, and ticket demand is closely following suit. The Stanley Cup-winning Vegas Golden Knights are the bestselling NHL team in 2023 on StubHub, with tickets sales nearly triple those of last year. The NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders are the third-highest selling team in that league.

StubHub is also watching Formula 1 closely, as the races made up nearly 40% of its top events in 2023.

In November, the Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix brought in fans from all over the world, making it the third most popular U.S. event for international buyers on StubHub.

Budelli also said the Vegas Sphere, the immersive concert and event venue that opened in September, has quickly become a big international draw. StubHub expects it will continue to boost ticket sales.

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