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Ticketmaster continues college push with Penn State deal

Ticketmaster is continuing its push into US college sports with a newly expanded and extended partnership with Penn State University.

Closely following its recently announced deal with fellow Big 10 Conference school Ohio State, the new agreement with Penn State will see the Live Nation-owned company will deploy its Presence digital ticketing system at five major athletics facilities there, including Beaver Stadium and the Bryce Jordan Center.

The installation schedule of the Ticketmaster access control technology will also make Penn State the first collegiate client to also have SafeTix, the company’s identity-based product that issues ticket buyers a unique bar code that automatically refreshes every few seconds.

Beaver Stadium, sporting a seating capacity of 106,572, ranks as the second-largest college football stadium in the US, representing a key litmus test for the emerging ticketing technology.

The deal also furthers Ticketmaster’s quickly growing interest in the college market. There are several distinct elements of this part of the market compared to the professional ranks, including the sizable presence of student tickets that are often distributed for free or at reduced costs. The college ticket market at most schools is also closely tied to a donor-based model in which the largest benefactors to an athletic program typically gain access to the best tickets.

But Ticketmaster executives said the Presence and SafeTix platforms are sufficiently flexible to incorporate those factors. The new technology is also being eyed a potential aid in reversing a multiyear attendance decline across all of college football that saw the sport sink in 2018 to a 22-year low.

“We believe we have some unique tools to help with the attendance decline,” said Tim Martin, Ticketmaster senior vice president of college athletics. “The transition away from student ID card-based ticketing, for instance, and more toward mobile ticketing we think does a lot to help make it easier to attend events. There is a big opportunity in this part of the industry to bring in a lot more of a next-generation infrastructure.”

In the case of Penn State, the deal expands upon prior trials of Presence at Pegula Ice Arena and at Panzer Stadium, home of the university’s lacrosse teams.