E-commerce is everywhere. With every year that goes by, the world conducts more and more of its business online. In the last quarter of 2018, e-commerce sales accounted for between 10 and 15 percent of all retail sales and are growing at about four times the rate of offline sales. Brick and mortar stores will never go away, but buying things online is mainstream now. Ticket sales – whether for plane tickets or concert and sporting events – are no exception to this trend. The secondary ticket market is huge and growing all the time.
The main ticket outlets, however, have aggravated customers with limited slots and inflated prices and a few entrepreneurs have seized the opportunity to build alternatives. Two of the main contenders in this secondary market are Vivid Seats and StubHub. Both services allow you to buy hard-to-find tickets or to sell yours if you no longer need them. Both sites also offer tickets for a huge variety of events, from sports to concerts, theaters to festivals, and pretty much everything in-between. They have been around for many years, are considered reliable vendors, and they also offer seats in places that many primary ticket websites do not.
How can you choose between the two sites? In this article, I’ll lay out the similarities and differences between the services and give you the information you need in order to make an informed decision. I’ll also do a price analysis of several different events to see which service has the best deals.
Vivid Seats was launched in 2001 and has a very mature website. It’s easy to use and has a powerful search function. You can sort search results by ticket, region, date, or artist. Availability is excellent, as they sell a huge range of tickets across all areas of a given venue this is one place Vivid Seats stands out from the competition. You will have access to prime seats and cheaper ones, with some variability based on factors like availability, the venue, and, of course, who is selling what. In 2017, Vivid Seats was reported to have more than $1 billion in turnover.
Of course, price is a primary concern with any ticket vendor, and this is where Vivid Seats stands out. Compared to its rivals, Vivid Seats usually undercuts by a decent amount. There are fees–the price you see at first isn’t actually the price you pay–but costs are still below StubHub in many instances. The exact fees ticket resellers charge can be hard to pin down, and unfortunately you won’t see the total amount until you’re at the site’s checkout page. Vivid Seats’ service fees are reported to run from 20% to 40% of the original ticket price. (This is where the site makes its money, after all.) Additional fees, like shipping, can be as much as $25 or as little as $7.
There are many comments on Vivid Seats and on independent feedback sites citing their great service. They take care of customers with services such as making a courtesy call informing ticket holders of venue or time changes, and they provide guarantees in case of fake tickets. These can both be invaluable.
StubHub is owned by eBay and was launched in 2000. It has a nice website with all the bells and whistles you would expect from one of the big players in the business. Like eBay, StubHub ignores design in favor of data, so while the website doesn’t look as appealing as Vivid Seats, it is easier to find what you’re looking for. Sorting by date helps you find events and StubHub also has an app, which means you can use it in more places and on more devices.
For a few years, StubHub experimented with “All In Pricing,” where they showed their fees up-front instead of tacking them at the end of the transaction. While this sounds good in theory, the higher initial prices scared consumers away, so now StubHub doesn’t show you its fees until you’re ready to finish buying the ticket. StubHub’s fees are reportedly a little higher than Vivid Seats’ on average. Total fees can range from 20% to 50% of the original price.
StubHub does have decent customer service but it is nowhere near as highly recommended as Vivid Seats. You do still get a guarantee against fake tickets, so it someone sells you a fake StubHub will help you get the genuine article for your show of choice if at all possible in order to make sure you don’t miss your show.
At the end of the day, the real choice between both platforms comes down to what service has cheaper tickets. Since both platforms are legit and don’t require you to jump through too many hoops to get the tickets you’re after, it’s safe to say that the real differentiator is price. Let’s look at a few past concerts and events from this year to see what service was offering better pricing for both budget options and front-row areas.
Ariana Grande – June 7, 2019 – Nashville, TN
Seating Area: Upper 330
- Vivid: $129
- StubHub: $133 – $143
Seating Area: Floor 1
- Vivid: $470 – $490
- StubHub: $496.37
NHL Islanders vs. Hurricanes – May 1, 2019 – Raleigh, NC
Seating Area: Upper 312
- Vivid: $108 – $171
- StubHub: $104
Seating Area: Center Ice 119
- Vivid: $296 – $321
- StubHub: $275 – $400
Jerry Seinfeld – November 16, 2019 – Las Vegas, NV
Seating Area: 307
- Vivid: $123 – $128
- StubHub: $128 – $155
Seating Area: 104
- Vivid: $271 – $515
- StubHub: $245 – $542
As this price comparison shows, both services have a wide variety of seats available and usually are competitive with one another on price. In cases where one service has a larger range of ticket prices than the other, it is usually due to the number of tickets available in that zone. You also have to consider that there are better and worse seats within the zones.
The Bottom Line
Both Vivid Seats and StubHub get many important things right. They offer a huge range of genuine tickets at decent prices. They both have good and user friendly websites where you can find what you’re looking for quite quickly. They both have an app for finding tickets on the move.
Both vendors offer good customer service and both will guarantee you against fake tickets. Both will also try to find you genuine tickets for your show so you don’t miss it because of a scam. Their prices are close enough that it can be worth your time to check out both and compare the final amounts. In this head-to-head, there can be only one winner: you, the consumer.
Want more help with buying tickets online?
If you’re concerned about StubHub, see our article on whether StubHub is legitimate and safe.
Did you know that you can buy tickets on Emirates Airlines using ApplePay?
No money for sports tickets? That’s OK – you can check our tutorial on watching live sports on your Amazon Fire TV Stick.