Ticketmaster Branches Out, Claims Huge Stake of Secondary-Ticket Market by Buying TicketsNow

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Perhaps concerned about Live Nation's plan to begin their own independent ticketing system beginning in January 2009, Ticketmaster announced yesterday that it has agreed to buy TicketsNow (the second-largest site in the secondary-ticket market behind eBay-owned StubHub). The Wall Street Journal places the value of the sale at $265 million. It's a move that firmly entrenches Ticketmaster in a secondary-ticket market in which tickets to concerts and sporting events are often sold for double and triple their face value.

After years of not getting a slice of resale profits — and issuing strongly worded warnings that ticket buyers should not resell their tickets — Ticketmaster now will take the fifteen percent commission that TicketsNow charges its sellers and split it between themselves and clients who "own venues or promote events." By entering this market, Ticketmaster will still be able to make some money off of Live Nation tickets that are resold on TicketsNow.

But will Ticketmaster now be consorting with scalpers? TicketsNow has been accused of being something of a safe harbor for ticket buyers who use "bots" to purchase tickets en masse before the general public can even click a mouse (the sort of bulk buying that caused a stir among parents in the great Hannah Montana Debacle of 2007). Ticketmaster President and Chief Executive Sean Moriarty promises that his company will attempt to "root out" those buyers who use technology unfairly. Consumers will likely be skeptical, however, as Ticketmaster has long been condemned as a fan-unfriendly service.

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