Anyone who’s been to a live sporting event knows the pain of watching from the nosebleed seats, staring at empty chairs rows and rows ahead. You have two choices in this case: Jump on down and risk getting caught in the act, or paying the difference for a seat that’s closer to the action – which isn’t exactly possible in most cases. But Pogoseat, a startup based in California, wants to help fans to upgrade seats in an instant with its mobile app for both Android and iOS devices.
Buying an upgrade is as straight forward as it sounds. For now Pogoseat is partnered with NBA team, the Golden State Warriors, and Stanford Men’s Basketball so should you want to buy ticket upgrades at any one of these team’s games, you just open up the app, find an empty seat, and buy the ticket within the app. The ticket gets delivered straight to your phone so all you have to do to claim your seat is to show your digital ticket to the usher for that section.
“Our goal is to make sure that my grandma can use it. If she can use it easily, then we’ve solved the problem,” Pogoseat co-founder, Evan Owens, tells me.
Pogoseat benefits both the fans and the teams by opening up the doors for teams to sell otherwise unsold seats. “It’s a great way for teams to monetize on unused inventory,” says Owens. “It’s a great way to engage their fan base.” By engagement he means that users can get closer to the courtside seats, but that statement will soon hold more weight once Pogoseat implements new social media features. Owen says the app will soon allow you to see if your friends are at the game, and the ability to upgrade to seats next to your friends (if those seats are open) will also be added.
So far, the app has been used during six Warrior home games, and a total of 1,572 fans have used the app. Among these users, 26 upgraded their seats with Pogoseat. During preliminary testing throughout those six games, users on average have spent about $24 dollars for an upgrade. But this varies widely, as Owens tells me that fans have spent up to $150 on an upgrade.
Brandon Schneider, Vice President, Ticket Sales & Services for the Golden State Warriors says so far the team has been satisfied by the results and is on the brink of a massive marketing push to Warriors fans. “It has definitely been successful. We just launched on opening night. We started really slowly because we wanted to make sure it worked with our ushers, our arena staff. [We wanted to make sure] the technology itself was really smooth before we really started pushing it out there.” Schneider adds that for now, Pogoseat has been used among fans that “happened on” the app. “So we’re just now in the process of going more widespread, pumping advertising in our arena, in our tipoff publication, emailing it to ticket buyers so they know it’s there.”
The ticket prices fluctuate based on the number of seats available, the location of the seat, what teams are playing each other, and 37 other data points for calculating seat pricing, which is all done by the Pogoseat algorithm. But the Warriors get the final say on ticket prices. “Pogoseat has given us the flexibility to set pricing. Some teams may do it differently. The big thing for us is to maintain the integrity for the brand,” says Schneider. Schneider says that the Warriors are currently working with Pogoseat on a feature that will allow users to purchase vacated seats. So if a fan has purchased another seat at a different part of the stadium, someone else can upgrade to that vacated seat. Another feature that the Warriors are looking at is a secondary market for ticket holders that for one reason or another aren’t able to make it to the game. These ticket holders would ideally sell their seats on Pogoseat and get a share of the revenue earned from the sale.
You might recognize that there’s an opportunity for Pogoseat to sell tickets directly, but Owens emphasizes on multiple occasions that he has no interest in offering such a service. It’s understandably a competitive space dominated by Ticketmaster and Stubhub, as well as a handful of smaller distributors.
While the app is currently limited to the Warriors’ and Stanford Tree basketball games, Owens tells me that the app will be deployed by additional NBA teams, although he declined to name the latest crop of partners as the contracts were in the finalizing stages.