In a move that has surprised many, Ticketmaster (TM) is to shut down its secondary ticketing sites Seatwave and GetMeIn across the continent, in what it says is an effort to prevent touts reselling for vast profits.
However, the company says there are no plans to close their equivalents in other markets.
UK observers believe that losses at Seatwave, coupled with enveloping pressure from many quarters, including recent legislation, Government bodies investigating, artiste-backed initiatives, unfavourable media and pending court cases against leading ticket touts, may have influenced the move by TM, which is owned by Live Nation Entertainment (LNE).
Seatwave and GetMeIn in the UK will be the first to go, closing in October, followed by similar moves across Europe, including in France, the Netherlands and Spain early next year.
The sites lost a combined £1.667,749 ($2.14655) in the last accounts published (2016), with Seatwave recording a loss of £6.012m ($7.706m) across 2015 and 2016.
Accounts for 2017 have yet to be published.
The UK sites are already no longer listing new events and will be replaced with a system allowing customers to sell unwanted tickets at face-value or less, with TM charging 15 per cent commission to buyers.
“We know that fans are tired of seeing others snap-up tickets just to resell for a profit on secondary websites, so we have taken action,” says TM UK MD Andrew Parsons.
“Closing down our secondary sites and creating a ticket exchange on Ticketmaster has always been our long-term plan.”
The decision comes in the midst of a concerted campaign against industrial-scale and insider touting, led in the UK by artiste manager-funded FanFair Alliance.
Also adding pressure may have been arch rival AEG – owner of The O2 (cap. 21,000) and operator of The SSE Arena, Wembley (12,750, both in London – ending its partnership with StubHub to launch its own price-capped resale service AXS Marketplace.
Other leading UK ticket agencies have also established their own face-value capped resale facilities in recent months.
FanFair Alliance head Adam Webb welcomed the move, adding, “While it’s true that large-scale touts will continue to use StubHub and Viagogo, those two sites are also under significant pressures.”
In Germany, Prof Jens Michow, president of agents and promoters association BDV, which works with members to fight touting, tells Audience, “This is our money that is being lost [to touts] and Ticketmaster’s decision benefits audiences and artistes, and is one that will increase quality and sustainability in the events industry.”
Some remain sceptical, with German promoter MCT Agentur’s Scumeck Sabottka, a virulent opponent of touting, telling Audience, “As good as it looks for Ticketmaster to shut down their reselling sites, they will not stop re-selling their tickets, one way or the other.”
StubHub’s EMEA regional manager Northern Wayne Grierson says, “This move by Ticketmaster is secondary ticketing in all but name. It is simply a step to consolidate the ticketing market and will ultimately mean that consumers have less choice.”
TM’s new face-value resale facility will run alongside its Platinum service which uses dynamic pricing, adjusting prices according to demand, and sees customers pay more for selected seats.
The company says Platinum seats are generally priced lower than touts would do, although a recent example saw tickets for Paul McCartney at Glasgow’s SSE Hydro (cap. 13,000) listed for £500. Face-value tickets were £65. Platinum tickets can only be offered at higher prices with the artiste’s agreement.
The last published accounts (2016) show Get Me In made a profit after tax of £1,417,623 ($1,817,562) on turnover of £14.135m ($18.122m), while Seatwave made a loss in the same period after tax of £3,085,372 ($3,955,765) on turnover of just £4.979m ($6.383m).
Founded in the UK in 2006 by Joe Cohen, Seatwave’s operating assets were acquired by LNE in 2014 (see Audience issue 178).
A TM spokesperson confirms to Audience that international websites including TicketsNow and TM+ in the US, Ticketmaster Resale in New Zealand and Australia and TicketExchange in Canada, would remain in operation.