Ticketmaster Swallows Tick Tack

Ticketing giant Ticketmaster has grown its European business by swallowing Spain’s Tick Tack Ticket, one of the country’s main distributors for contemporary music shows.

Although it’s the first time the fight for domination of the mainland market has moved south, Ticketmaster European business development director Paul Lafontaine said he doesn’t look at the battleground in terms of “flanks or fronts.”

“We look for good markets. Spain is a great market with a growing amount of content and a large population. And Tick Tack is a great entry point for Ticketmaster to start working in a great market,” he explained.

The company is giving no details of what it paid for Tick Tack, which vies with the Caixa Bank-owned Servi Ticket for domination of the Spanish market.

Of the major promoters there, Neo Sala’s Doctor Music uses Tick Tack and Gay Mercader’s Gamerco uses Servi Ticket.

Lafontaine didn’t say whether he’s also negotiating with Servi, but did say the company is “interested in other deals in Spain if they make sense for both parties.”

So far, Ticketmaster and the two European companies competing for slices of the market, Germany’s CTS Eventim and Holland’s TopTicketLine, have concentrated on northern and western European acquisitions.

CTS Eventim dominates the German market, although Ticketmaster started fighting that eight months ago by teaming with DEAG and purchasing the Hamburg-based Kartenhaus to set up a ticketing operation to challenge that dominance. DEAG is Eventim’s main promoting rival.

CTS also has ticketing operations in Switzerland, Austria and several southern European countries down to the Balkans, many of which have Vienna-based promoter Wolfgang Klinger as a partner.

With Serge Grimaux’s Prague-based Ticketpro another major player in the central and eastern European regions, the area looked likely to be the site for the next round of acquisitions.

TopTicketLine’s business turns over more than euro 300 million (US$378 million) on annual sales of about euro 25 million.

In 2005, it bought Austria Ticket, which sells at least 2 million tickets a year, from the Vienna-based MC Marketing.

Parent company Stage Entertainment International, which is owned by theatre and musical entrepreneur Joop van den Ende, has no shortage of content as it has the European productions for musicals and theatre shows including “Cats,” “Mamma Mia,” “Phantom of The Opera,” “Les Misérables,” “Barnum” and “Holiday On Ice.”

Apart from its German operation and its U.K. dominance, Ticketmaster also has Holland’s Ticket Service Nederland, which is now shifting more than 3 million tickets a year.

It also has a very high percentage of the Scandinavian market, having purchased major companies in Denmark, Norway and Sweden and completed its market dominance with the purchase of Finland’s Lippupalvelu in 2004.

– John Gammon