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Twitter Begins Selling Sports Tickets, Starting With the NBA Playoffs

With Atlanta Hawks ticket sales, Twitter could become a go-to distribution channel for last-minute ticket offers.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

When Twitter first announced plans to sell stuff in tweets, sports tickets seemed like a logical fit because of the large followings professional teams have on the social network.

Now, the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks are tapping into the potential demand, announcing today that they’re selling a limited number of tickets to Wednesday’s playoff game against the Brooklyn Nets directly from a tweet. Fans can select ticket quantity and pay with a credit card without leaving Twitter.

Hawks Twitter tickets

Putting aside how ridiculous it is that the best team in the Eastern Conference hasn’t sold out its playoff games, the move points toward one area of e-commerce where Twitter could break through. Loyal sports fans use Twitter regularly to get news about their favorite teams and read live commentary during big games. Those characteristics could make Twitter a go-to distribution channel for last-minute ticket offers just like the Hawks promotion, as well as giving teams an alternative to working with ticketing middlemen. I’ve asked Twitter if it takes a cut of each sale and will update when I receive a response. (Update: Twitter declined to comment, but a person familiar with the initiative said Twitter currently doesn’t take a cut of ticket sales, thought it seems plausible it could in the future.) The Hawks appear to be working with Twitter marketing platform partner Flightly on this promotion.

The ticket sale comes seven months after Twitter first announced its long-awaited e-commerce initiative and a few days after Slayer became one of the first bands to sell concert tickets directly in a tweet.

While shopping-enabled tweets have popped up on the platform since the launch, they haven’t appeared on the platform in a big way. Ticket sales could change that, especially considering that former Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard is the head of Twitter’s commerce division.

Twitter believes the shopping-enabled tweets could eventually boost its ad business, as brands and teams pay to place “Buy” buttons in front of users who don’t follow their accounts. Some brands already advertise products within these promoted tweets, and letting people buy directly within the Twitter posts could help increase purchases. Still, Twitter has a long way to go before it can prove that a large chunk of its users want to make purchases on the network, instead of just reading and tweeting.

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