CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Under The Knife: Back ... (05/29)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article The Big Picture: More ... (05/23)
Next Column >>
Premium Article The Big Picture: Grayi... (06/06)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Player Profile: Carlos... (05/30)

May 30, 2007

The Big Picture

Dynamic Pricing

by David Pinto

the archives are now free.

All Baseball Prospectus Premium and Fantasy articles more than a year old are now free as a thank you to the entire Internet for making our work possible.

Not a subscriber? Get exclusive content like this delivered hot to your inbox every weekday. Click here for more information on Baseball Prospectus subscriptions or use the buttons to the right to subscribe and get instant access to the best baseball content on the web.

Subscribe for $4.95 per month
Recurring subscription - cancel anytime.


a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Purchase a $39.95 gift subscription
a 33% savings over the monthly price!

Already a subscriber? Click here and use the blue login bar to log in.

At first glance, baseball and retail energy markets appear to have nothing in common. Yes, baseball buys electricity to light the parks and run the stadium, but how does buying a ticket relate to buying a kilowatt hour?

There actually is a relationship. Digital technology lowers the barrier to knowledge, allowing us to answer questions better and faster. Twenty years ago, we might be able to find out a score on CompuServe that was an inning old. Today, we not only know the current count, we know what kind of pitch was thrown, the location, and the speed. A hitter finishes an at-bat, and we see his new averages. A pitcher completes an inning, and his ERA appears before us.

Lynne Kiesling and Michael Giberson write Knowledge Problem, an economics blog concerned with energy markets. Dr. Kiesling visits the idea of dynamic pricing of retail electricity quite often in her writings. Give customers up-to-the-minute pricing data on electric rates, and they use electricity more efficiently. Give them technology that controls appliances, and they do even better. For example, here she discusses the combination of technology, pricing, and entrepreneurship:

I would only add two points to [an] articulation of the benefits of dynamic pricing and digital metering. The technology can't create all of these benefits on its own: rate redesign to allow dynamic pricing is imperative. What good is having technology to enable responsive demand if the meter just gets the same old, same old averaged price signal? Not much. Digital technology and dynamic pricing are symbiotic. Furthermore, the most significant benefits of digital technology and dynamic pricing are largely unseen by us in advance, which is why it's so bloody hard to get them enacted in regulation!

The most substantial benefits of the retail competition that technology plus pricing enable come from product differentiation and innovation in the products and services available to customers. Think about telecom: we got some benefit from the reduction in prices for long-distance service, but the real value proposition has been in the proliferation of new products and services that have transformed our lives. There are entrepreneurs out there thinking about ways to do that in electric power retail service, and the potential exists, if we will but let it happen.

As I absorbed these concepts, I started to wonder if dynamic pricing could be applied to baseball. One use came to mind while standing in line for a hot dog at the ballpark a couple of years ago. For me, missing an inning to get food is a big deal. I'll find the shortest line just so I won't miss much of the game. It struck me that real-time pricing signals could help here.

I was overjoyed to see Lewis Wolff thinking along the same lines:

Oakland fans will be able to buy tickets with their cell phones, enter the park by swiping a bar code that will be sent electronically to the cell phone, and upgrade to better seats on game day if they wish through the cell phone. The A's say they will be able to monitor food quantities digitally and if, say, there's a surplus of hot dogs on a given night, they'll be able to react by instantly lowering the prices during the game, and informing the fans via digital signs that will be installed throughout the stadium.

Wolff recognizes the two areas where dynamic pricing can add revenue to the team's bottom line--tickets and concessions. Dynamically lowering food prices helps eliminate waste. The opposite works also--if a shortage of pizza occurs, a higher price keeps a stand from running out, so fans who absolutely positively must buy a slice or pepperoni can do so.

Along with the prices, why not supply real-time information on waiting time? If cell phones can receive ticket upgrade information, why not a map of the concession area showing line lengths? Fans could even order from their phones, with the food delivered for a premium, or picked up for cost. The technology plus entrepreneurship Kiesling describes might change our whole ballpark experience.

The dynamic ticket pricing example shows how teams can capture revenue with these systems. Fans are in the park, but there are expensive seats unsold. In the dynamic pricing scheme, clubs offer an upgrade for half the difference between the ticket the fan bought and the pricier seat. Loge moves to the boxes, grandstand moves to the loge, bleachers move to the grandstand, and standing room gets a seat. The fans get a better seat at a cheaper price, and the team earns more money than if fans just randomly move into vacant seats.

And there's even more money to be captured from popular games. Right now on Ebay, Red Sox/Yankees tickets for their early June matchup are selling for up to nine times face value. Even in a place with poor attendance like Kansas City, the St. Louis series generates premium prices on bidding sites. Teams could capture that premium revenue by creating a market for their seats. A ticket is analogous to a futures contract, after all; why not trade them instead of selling them? The teams could make their own markets, and even capture the transaction fees involved with each sale. Right now, ticket brokers and even individual fans benefit from these trades. Teams should find a way to tap into this revenue stream.

Even in years when a team is not popular, the lower price associated with that lack of popularity should bring more people to the park. Teams then capture the upgrade money and the concession money. Dynamic pricing gives teams the potential to bring in revenue where none existed before. (Note that dynamic ticket pricing requires the repeal of anti-scalping laws where they exist.)

In the digital age, knowledge not only becomes easier to obtain, but more speedily obtained as well. With data transfer infrastructure in place, new products can not only enhance the ballpark experience for fans, but allow teams to capture revenue streams that previously went to waste. Whether at the electric outlet or the concession stand, dynamic pricing holds the power to lower costs for customers (fans) and increase revenue for suppliers (teams), a winning strategy for all.

Related Content:  Fans,  Products

0 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Under The Knife: Back ... (05/29)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article The Big Picture: More ... (05/23)
Next Column >>
Premium Article The Big Picture: Grayi... (06/06)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Player Profile: Carlos... (05/30)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article The View from the Loge Level: The Alex Jacks...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Power Outage
Premium Article What You Need to Know: September 19, 2014
Premium Article Raising Aces: Carlos in Charge
Notes About Baseball: The Second-Hardest Par...
Premium Article Pebble Hunting: Cueto's Quirks
Premium Article Moonshot: Detecting the Best Medicine

MORE FROM MAY 30, 2007
Premium Article Something's Fishy in Florida
Premium Article Under The Knife: Fast and Furious
Prospectus Today: Silver Lining in a Blue Un...
Premium Article Player Profile: Carlos Pena

MORE BY DAVID PINTO
2007-06-20 - Premium Article The Big Picture: Forty and Fabulous
2007-06-13 - Premium Article The Big Picture: Getting to the Truth
2007-06-06 - Premium Article The Big Picture: Graying Offenses
2007-05-30 - Premium Article The Big Picture: Dynamic Pricing
2007-05-23 - Premium Article The Big Picture: More Alignments
2007-05-16 - The Big Picture: More Rescheduling
2007-05-09 - Premium Article The Big Picture: Rescheduling
More...

MORE THE BIG PICTURE
2007-06-20 - Premium Article The Big Picture: Forty and Fabulous
2007-06-13 - Premium Article The Big Picture: Getting to the Truth
2007-06-06 - Premium Article The Big Picture: Graying Offenses
2007-05-30 - Premium Article The Big Picture: Dynamic Pricing
2007-05-23 - Premium Article The Big Picture: More Alignments
2007-05-16 - The Big Picture: More Rescheduling
2007-05-09 - Premium Article The Big Picture: Rescheduling
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2007-09-26 - Premium Article The Big Picture: Farewell
2007-06-06 - Premium Article The Big Picture: Graying Offenses