By John Breyault, Vice President, Public Policy, Telecommunications, and Fraud
The ticketing industry is the gatekeeper to much of our nation’s arts, sports and culture. What should be an exciting moment—securing a seat for your favorite event —has become exceedingly frustrating for many consumers as they navigate a confusing ticket-buying process laden with hidden fees.
NCL works on behalf of fans for all live events to ensure that consumers get the best possible experience, the best bargain for their hard earned dollars and don’t feel they’ve been ripped off with gotcha added costs, like mandatory “convenience fees” “processing fees” “venue fees” or the like when purchasing live event tickets.
Consumers are at the mercy of a rigged ticket marketplace. One company – Live Nation Entertainment (LNE) — dominates the marketplace. The company was created after Ticketmaster and Live Nation were given the green light to merge by the Department of Justice in 2009, despite strong consumer and business opposition. LNE today controls around 80% of primary ticketing services, owns or has exclusive rights to operate many venues, and has major positions in artist management and event promotion. In 2022, LNE reported $4.5 billion in revenue from ticket resale, more than double what it earned in 2019, making it one of the largest players in the secondary ticket market.
Not surprisingly, LNE engages in practices typical of monopolies, working to drive out competitors. NCL and other consumer groups are leading the charge to unwind the ill-advised 2009 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster and restore healthy competition to the marketplace.
NCL believes that ticket resale has a legitimate place in the live event marketplace. The availability of ticket resale services provides a hedge for consumers who buy season tickets or non-refundable tickets, and is also a source for ticket buyers to get bargains when supply outpaces demand, allowing them to save money on below-face value tickets.
Below are some general principles on ticketing that NCL supports.
- We want the DOJ and Congress to unwind the Ticketmaster-Live Nation merger.
- Hidden ticket fees, deceptive dark patterns, and other anticompetitive ticketing practices should be prohibited. “All in” ticket pricing should be required so that consumers can compare prices from one site to another.
- Ticket holdbacks (also known as allocations) should be disclosed to ticket buyers prior to purchase.
- Secondary ticket exchanges should be required to disclose the face value of tickets offered for sale on their platforms.
- Ticket resellers should be prohibited from engaging in deceptive practices that are deliberately intended to confuse consumers into believing they are buying tickets from the primary seller. Deceptive design practices such as using URLs or other indicia of affiliation with a venue, team, or artist and by paying for search engine optimization that results in resale websites appearing higher in search results than the official box offices should be prohibited.
- Secondary ticket exchanges should be required to closely monitor their ticket inventory to ensure that they are not listing tickets obtained in violation of federal or state laws.
- All stakeholders in the live event industry should be required to assist enforcement agency’s efforts to stop illegal automated ticket buying and resale.
- Federal or state law enforcement agencies should investigate how tickets appear on the secondary ticket market at prices far above face value before offered for sale by primary ticket sellers and whether such sales violate applicable laws.
To these ends, NCL has endorsed legislative reforms to protect ticket buyers and promote competition in the live event industry, such as the BOSS and SWIFT Act and the TICKET Act.