Bengals should monitor the Lions variable ticket pricing

The Detroit Lions are implementing variable ticket pricing that will adjust cost based on demand for specific games. The Bengals should pay attention.

The Detroit Lions announced on Monday variable ticket pricing at home games in 2014, assigning each game to one of three pricing categories based on the demand for those games. For example, tickets for preseason games could see as much as a 70 percent decrease, however "both the top and mid-level pricing categories will increase modestly over 2013."

"Data from the secondary market has equipped us to make more educated and fair pricing decisions based on anticipated demand," said Vice President of Ticketing and Suite Sales Todd Lambert. "We’re now using that information to offer a better ticket experience for season ticket members who previously paid the same price regardless of the matchup or viability as a regular or preseason game."

The Lions point out that on average, season ticket members "will see an overall increase of 8.2-percent to their season ticket package price," but will save "an average of 20-percent (depending on seat location) off 2014 single-game prices."

This, of course, is their pitch to rebuild their season ticket base.

The NFL went into panic mode over a year ago when reports surfaced that attendance at NFL games was steadily declining. They've tried implementing a better experience with better replays, WiFi for mobile devices and other measures.

However, the issue has always been about cost. Why should a preseason game cost as much as a regular season game? And why should a Monday Night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers cost the same as a home game against the Minnesota Vikings?

It'll be interesting to see how many teams will follow the Detroit Lions and what the Bengals decide to do in 2015 -- they've already announced their ticket plans for 2014 and they're not necessarily the setter of trends. Cincinnati quickly sold out high-profile games last year against the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers but struggled against lower-tiered games, such as the Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets.

Theoretically, those games against the Steelers, Patriots and Packers would have cost most than the Vikings, Jets, and maybe even the Browns (traditionally that's a good draw but has declined significantly lately). In a way for the Bengals, who have a small season ticket base, for which NFL teams depend on, it would have helped.

The Bengals also struggled to sell out their home playoff game against the San Diego Chargers, but that's an entirely different animal. Regular season games are scheduled with dates, times and opponents months in advance while most cities have less than a week to push home tickets for Wild Card games.

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