German Cartel Office Bans ‘Abusive Exclusivity Contracts’

CTS Eventim isn’t allowed to contract exclusive ticketing agreements with promoters and advance booking offices, Germany’s antitrust authority, the Bundeskartellamt, decided.  

The authorities chafed at Eventim’s contract clauses stipulating “that the contracting parties may only sell tickets exclusively or to a considerable extent via CTS’s ‘’ ticket sales system.”

“The Bundeskartellamt regards these contractual agreements as an abuse of market power under competition law and has now ordered CTS Eventim to amend its contracts within four months,” it stated in the official argumentation.

Going forward, CTS Eventim’s contract partners must have the possibility to sell at least 20 percent of their annual ticket volume at their own discretion via other ticketing systems, “provided that the contracts are for longer than two years or unlimited.”

Advance booking offices in Germany are also very much reliant on CTS Eventim, which controls around 60 to 70 percent of all tickets distributed via ticketing systems in Germany.

The cartel office concludes: “Due to the abusive exclusivity contracts with event organizers and advance booking offices, a significant part of the market is being foreclosed even further to competing ticketing systems. In addition, exclusivity clauses of dominant companies on platform markets are encouraging a general trend toward further monopolization.”

Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt, said: “As the operator of the largest ticketing system in Germany, CTS Eventim holds a dominant position in the market. Under competition law a company with such a market position has special obligations. Where CTS Eventim commits its contract partners to sell tickets exclusively via its own ticketing system, the company is abusing its market power to the detriment of competition. With our decision substantial ticket quotas will be freed up for sale via competing ticketing systems.”

CTS Eventim said “the decision of the Federal Cartel Office ignores the fierce competition in the market for ticket services, which is constantly increasing as a result of frequent market entries by digital providers from Germany and abroad. Against this background, we have to assume that the Cartel Office has gone into this procedure with a preconceived notion that does not adequately reflect this development. All the investigations in the three-year proceedings were apparently aimed at confirming this belief.”

The live entertainment giant added that the authorities did not adequately considered its “strong counter-arguments, especially as they are supported by current studies and economic expert reports.” CTS Eventim maintains that the investigation would have had a different outcome, had the Bundeskartellamt taken those arguments into account.

“For these reasons, we will not accept the decision of the Federal Cartel Office and engage the competent courts to correct it,” the company states.

Because of its market dominance, the German regulators are constantly eyeing CTS Eventim. Its recent acquisition of German promoter Four Artists was denied.

However, last year’s acquisition of a majority stake in FKP Scorpio was granted, as were the takeovers of Vertigo and Friends & Partners in Italy this year.