TM Buys Into Secondary

Ticketmaster has announced it expects to buy secondary ticketing resale company TicketsNow – a purchase that would dramatically shift the relationship between the two ticketing worlds and one that raises many questions.

TM expects to buy TicketsNow for $265 million pending regulatory approval, according to a story that broke in the Wall Street Journal.

Ticketmaster already has its own secondary marketplace in TicketExchange, although it has yet to become a major player in the field. TicketsNow is an established brand and, according to a TM press release, "the leading independent Web-based marketplace for music, sports and other live entertainment event tickets."

The statement adds the purchase will make Ticketmaster a leading company in the resale category – a safe statement, yet a profound one. TM has been aggressively fighting the secondary market in the courts. By integrating TicketsNow, the world’s leading primary ticket seller will definitely change the landscape.

One of the biggest bugaboos the industry has with the secondary market isn’t that it is overcharging the fans – it’s that the money isn’t flowing back into the pockets of the artists, venues and promoters.

That appears to be the case with TicketExchange, according to sources close to the situation. Although a ticket reseller gets the profit on a ticket, the service fee – depending on how a contract is arranged – is many times shared among the industry players. That’s obviously not the case for other ticket resellers.

AEG President Tim Leiweke is happy with TM’s latest buy.

"We get to go back to the artist and say, ‘Now, we can capture that revenue for you, instead of StubHub," Leiweke told the WSJ.

Leiweke could not be reached for elaboration at press time but it should be noted that, with Live Nation divorcing itself from Ticketmaster in the next few years, AEG will become TM’s largest industry client. As a TM client, AEG could now offer an artist a deal that includes secondary sales as well as primary. The same will likely hold true for Live Nation as it integrates its in-house ticketing system.

It is not certain what TM will do with TicketsNow, although the latter’s management team remains in place. TicketsNow could keep its domain, get integrated with TicketExchange or both could disappear inside – but chances are the brain trust at TM and parent company IAC/InterActiveCorp are buying first and will work out the details later.

Meanwhile, TicketsNow has 800 "vetted" resellers, according to TM. TicketsNow CEO Cheryl Rosner told the WSJ her company doesn’t keep tabs on how the sellers get their tickets.