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Raising the Average Revenue per NBA Game Without Raising Prices

There’s no greater thrill in entertainment than the electricity of going to a live game, and NBA fans are flocking to the gate faster than ever before. 2022/23 broke every attendance record the league had ever set, and across the league—from first to last place—the average arena was sold to 97% capacity. 

It takes a monumental investment in the product to drive those kinds of numbers, and it doesn’t happen just because NBA leadership loves the game. Professional basketball is competing with the NFL, MLB, MLS, and NHL for attention, and each league is in a battle to deliver a more immersive, exciting, and engaging live experience. What fans want—and what they choose to do with their wallets—is at the center of every business decision the NBA makes, and it’s a constant struggle to balance investments to grow the game with the price people are willing to pay for a ticket.  

The top solutions need to keep ticket prices down while increasing the average revenue per NBA game, and that means delivering a serious return on the investment. Here are the top areas NBA teams across the league are looking at to give fans the most in the arena while charging them the least to get in the door. 

What Drives NBA Ticket Prices Up?

There are a lot of reasons the cost of going to an NBA game keeps rising, and not all of them are controllable. Inflation, for instance, has been high in recent years, so it’s understandable that ticket prices will drift up to keep pace. Issues in supply chains and various other costs have also impacted a number of sectors, and these increases are naturally passed along to consumers to some degree. 

However, investments in technologies that enhance every aspect of the fan experience from the parking lot to the final buzzer all have to be recouped through various revenue streams. This can include things as simple as adding reserved parking for NBA garages all the way up to augmenting the entire audio/visual system to make big players even larger than life.

Investments of all kinds have contributed to NBA ticket prices going up nearly 6% in 2024, but that’s still a competitive rate compared to 17% at the NFL. Regardless, with a family of four expecting to spend about $300 to go to a game, that doesn’t mean there’s a ton of headroom in the equation. 

Making Smart Tech Choices

The best investments the league can make are typically in experiences that boost the average revenue per NBA game without contributing to ticket prices. These often aren’t the most glamorous aspects of the game (don’t expect to find the Sphere Las Vegas on this list) but they nonetheless are some of the most impactful when it comes to fans’ comfort and convenience. 

Solutions like facial authentication platforms are excellent examples of tech investments that more than pay for themselves without passing costs onto consumers. These systems can confirm ticketing, process payments at concession and merchandise kiosks, and handle internal access and credentialing far faster and more securely than traditional lanes. 

And because they use off-the-shelf consumer hardware, they are easy to implement—training staff is quick and they can be onboarded across venues in as little as 30 days. They cut operations costs, allow staff to be redeployed to more critical areas, and most importantly, deliver a great fan experience without adding to their ticket prices. 

Here are some of the top areas where technology can save NBA franchises money without relying on ticket holders to shoulder the cost.

Concessions and Merchandise

Reducing lines and speeding up payments are some of the top areas where facial authentication can significantly increase fan spending through speed and convenience. 59% of fans say they would visit food and beverage kiosks if the lines were shorter, which translates to a 42% increase in spending per family. With 94% of all attendees making at least one trip during an NBA game and record attendance numbers at the gate, investments that reduce lines and speed up transactions are no-brainers for franchises across the board. 

Ticketing

The same facial authentication technology that increases concession sales with Express Beer lanes is delivering at the arena entrance through Express Access. By creating a simple online profile that fans can opt in or out of any time they like, facial authentication firms and their ticketing partners can link a family’s tickets quickly and securely to their biometric data. 

The same tablets and software that speed up jersey sales can confirm an entire family’s tickets in 300 milliseconds with a single scan, and it’s one of the reasons why Express Access lanes move up to 4x faster than traditional methods. 

VIP Experiences and Access

Because all of a fan’s relevant information can be connected to their facial profile, these systems are exceptional opportunities to augment VIP experiences and manage access points for premium lounges at NBA games. Nobody ever forgets their face, so a lost badge or ID is never an obstacle for the fanatics who are craving immersive and elite opportunities. 

It doesn’t cost any more to implement facial authentication systems at these access points than any other application, but the value it adds to the luxury experience is part of why these superfans are willing to pay nearly any price for VIP treatment. 

Facial Authentication: The Most Valuable Proposition

The NBA will continue to grow its brand by delivering a stellar live-game experience for fans and families, and the league will undoubtedly keep breaking records at the gate. As average arena attendance continues to create longer lines at ticketing and concessions, the potential for maximizing the average revenue per NBA game will go hand-in-hand. Teams will need to take advantage of technologies like facial authentication to capitalize on every opportunity to entice fans to spend more and wait less.  

Learn more about how facial authentication platforms can elevate the live game experience for fans as well as boost profits for the league, and why these solutions are raising the bar—but not ticket prices—for competitive NBA franchises. 

About Wicket

Wicket Software is a privacy-first facial authentication platform provider with patented computer vision AI technology that enables sensational event experiences for fans, guests, and employees with frictionless touchpoints that delight users and strengthen security.

Wicket has been in use since 2020 and deployed for facial ticketing, credentialing, access control, and payments in numerous sports stadiums, at major conferences, and in corporate office environments.

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