LN Not Thrilled With Eventim

The rumblings that Live Nation is far from happy with the CTS Eventim ticket system bubbled to the surface when Michael Rapino – the US company’s chief exec – made it clear he’s less than thrilled with the German company’s performance.

At the LN earnings call Feb. 25, he told investors that operational difficulties in the US have led to LN focusing on moving tickets from its CTS Eventim platform to Ticketmaster’s platform – even if it means continuing to pay annual fees to CTS, as per the contract the companies signed at the end of 2007.

“In the U.S. we can use any system we want. Ticketmaster is superior, so we will use that,” he explained.

Relationships between the two companies have been soured since the Bremen-based firm tried to derail the LN-TM merger in the UK because it felt it inhibited its entry into the British market.

The UK’s Competition Commission dithered before approving the deal, although Eventim launched a successful appeal and the CC is taking another look at it.

“You have to tell the truth in an earnings call,” Live Nation UK president Paul Latham told Pollstar, echoing Rapino’s view on Eventim’s performance.

In the UK, the problems include the Eventim platform’s algorithm, the logical system that sorts seats and sales, which seems to leave more single seats available than other systems.

“At one stage during the Jay-Z sale, 10 percent of the remaining available seats were single seats – and they’re the hardest ones to sell,” Latham explained. “We expected teething problems but now I need them to improve.”

“We have a 10-year deal and we’ll abide by it as long as Eventim abides by it. I’ve already told the Competition Commission that,” he added, although it’s unlikely LN will put up with unsatisfactory service in the longer term. Eventim was declining to comment at press time.

Another problem with the Eventim deal appears to be the result of the company not having a strong presence in the UK, causing some online buyers to look for more familiar sites to supply their tickets.

Latham is also concerned that if the Eventim platform, and therefore the Live Nation-run group of venues, doesn’t sell tickets as quickly as other the rooms on a tour, the promoters will want more of their tickets allocated to other ticket-sellers – or even decide to shy away from LN venues.

“If a venue isn’t selling your tickets, then you want your tickets out of there,” said Metropolis Music chief and V-Festival organiser Bob Angus. He says he hasn’t put a major tour on sale since Eventim belatedly began selling tickets for LN venues and therefore hasn’t had first-hand experience of the problem.

Latham says 80 percent of the content in LN venues is supplied by other promoters and he has to ensure that a high standard of service is maintained.

The UK Competition Commission is expected complete its review of the LN-TM merger in time to announce a verdict by May 11.