Guest Post: Ticketmaster Closing Secondary Platforms Is Good News, But Is It Enough?

Alan Vey and Annika Monari
– Alan Vey and Annika Monari
Co-founders of the Aventus Protocol
Ticketmaster’s move to close secondary ticketing platforms GET ME IN! and Seatwave has been broadly hailed by the industry as a win for fans. Consumer protection campaigners such as STAR and The FanFair Alliance have welcomed the move, which aligns most UK primary ticketing around capped resale. Undoubtedly a great step forward towards increased standardisation, the concern remains that without stronger post-sale controls, high-margin resale will simply flourish elsewhere. 
From October, Ticketmaster customers wishing to resell Ticketmaster tickets will be able to do so through Ticketmaster’s own platform. Ticket resale will be permitted at face value, plus up to 15% to allow for recoupment of the initial booking fee. Elsewhere the primary vendors cap resale either at face value (See Tickets), or face value plus 10% (Eventim and AXS). Pure resale platform Twickets, one of the pioneers of capped resale, also allows for 10% above face value.   
The decision to retire the two resale brands follows a slew of negative publicity around secondary ticketing. Recent industry movements (including Ireland’s decision to legislate in favour of price-capped resale, the ban on ticket bots,  the referral of Viagogo to National Trading Standards, and the impact of sluggish growth at StubHub on the stock price of eBay) have felt like a tipping point in sentiment away from the ‘for-profit’ resale sector. Ticketing companies that sell primary tickets, and wish to support the resale of tickets, are looking to avoid the bad press associated with secondary markets, while making it easier to comply with increasingly tight regulations. 
At face value, the decision is beneficial for both Ticketmaster and their customers. Ticketmaster will surely benefit from the efficiencies of operating one integrated brand, and avoid the scrutiny of what many in the industry have long seen as a conflict. Ticketmaster customers will be able to purchase tickets made available for resale, while avoiding the sky-high costs often associated with secondary platforms. However, the move may exacerbate issues for consumers buying tickets from non-Ticketmaster sources. 
Some of the key benefits of GET ME IN! and Seatwave were that they offered a reasonably high degree of self-regulation, and were open to resale of tickets from any primary source. Their closure will decrease consumer choice around legitimate resale options, especially as consumers using resale platforms provided by primary vendors can currently only sell inventory that originated on the parent primary platform.
As Rob Davies remarked in The Guardian this week, “GetMeIn and Seatwave represent the more responsible end of the resale market…the industry’s bad boy, Viagogo, could now pick up business from touts with a shrinking range of options.” Essentially, ticket scalpers will still be able to choose to sell tickets at a profit through secondary channels which are already under investigation for flouting regulations. It’s likely that the “capped resale” channels will become attractive to the scalpers only when they seek to liquidate unsold inventory close to an event. It remains to be seen how these ‘capped resale’ channels will police listings, or indeed the rules they will seek to enforce.
Overall, this may well have the effect of driving fans to what have been labelled by many in the industry as rogue companies; including Viagogo, which remains a major player in the resale market in Europe and which lies outside UK regulations. Meanwhile, Ticketmaster and other primary operators are missing out on a potential market opportunity by not listing secondary inventory originating from other primary agents.
Alan Vey is co-founder of the U.K. blockchain ticketing protocol Aventus.

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