After working in ticketing and marketing for the National Basketball Association, Adam Kanner recognized that the league had a problem: too few butts. Butts in the seats, that is.
“The challenge of live entertainment industry is unsold ticket inventory,” Kanner explains. “That inventory is perishable, and filling those seats every night is challenging.”
Overall, live entertainment — concerts, sports events, theater — is an industry with $25 billion in profits, but around 40 percent of seats go empty.
The flipside to that problem: It has gotten tougher to obtain reasonably priced tickets to events. The casual fan was being priced out of events.
Kanner decided to solve these dual problems simultaneously. He co-created ScoreBig, an L.A.-based startup that liquidates undersold ticket inventory at big discounts. The site, which started up in a handful of cities in 2010, works like Priceline — users can bid on seats and expect to hear within 24 hours whether their bid has been accepted. Saving 10 percent to 70 percent off the normal ticket price, they can choose a certain area to sit, although not exact seats. Best of all, there are no service charges or “convenience” fees (convenient for whom, after all).
Kanner says the service has to walk the line between getting those all-important butts into seats and cannibalizing hard-core fans' ticket sales. “When you think of the ticket world, you have Ticketmaster — that's a full-price channel. When a ticket is sold out, you have places like StubHub, where you can pay more. But we're creating for the first time a place to go to save, so people can experience events they wouldn't normally attend.”
ScoreBig has scored $24 million in funding and employs 55 people at an upbeat office in Hollywood.
Although Kanner is new to Los Angeles, he's enjoying life here. “If you look at New York City or Los Angeles, L.A. is the mecca of entertainment,” he says. “There's music, comedy, theater, and it's a very underdeveloped market, so there's an opportunity to get more people without having to go outside the city.”
Business continues to grow 30 percent to 40 percent each month, Kanner says, with more events and more users being added. There's also an app for daily deals on tickets. “The biggest challenge we have is letting people know we exist, and letting them know how we are different. People are used to fees, to getting tickets being difficult — they think there's a catch.”