2019 In Review: The Year In Ticketing

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Pleased fans show off tickets for The Rolling Stones’ first U.S. show, June 21 in Chicago, after Mick Jagger’s heart surgery.
The year in ticketing proved to be one where the rubber met the road as aggressive pricing and restrictions on resale have left brokers feeling the secondary squeeze. 
Ticketmaster’s SafeTix barcode technology, which gives clients the option to turn off the transferability of their show’s tickets, was thrust into the spotlight after The Black Keys used it an underplay show at the Wiltern Theater in Los Angeles Sept. 19. 
The idea that fans would be guaranteed a ticket for $25 dollars was great, but scores of fans did not get the memo about the restriction of resale and showed up at the venue to find their tickets invalidated. Frustrated secondary ticketing marketplaces had to issue hundreds of refunds and, while Ticketmaster notes the show ended up being at 97 percent capacity, the company, however, took a public licking for the perceived slight of fans.
Time will tell if legislative protection or a particular breakaway in the primary-secondary’s eternal cat and mouse game will be enough to keep struggling brokers afloat, but as predicted at the FTC workshop in June, trends of “market-clearing” primary prices and restrictions on resale seem to be here to stay.
SafeTix, already used at football games in the U.S. and by artists like Kanye West, is set to be rolled out at a broad scale by 2021 and no doubt other major ticketing platforms will try to develop similar technology by that point if they haven’t already. 
Speaking of AXS, the company is poised to continue growing into 2020, as AEG announced in September AXS would be the official secondary ticketing partner for all its sports franchises and AEG-owned or operated venues, effectively ending existing partnerships between StubHub and AEG venues and franchises. AEG officially bought full ownership of AXS later that month. 
The long-rumored purchase of StubHub finally seems to be moving forward, though not with the buyer many anticipated. In the end, it seems viagogo, and not Vivid Seats, will acquire the secondary giant from eBay for a cool $4.05 billion in cash. 
Numerous acquisitions, technology developments, integrations, hirings and firings dotted the ticketing industry landscape in 2019. 
Andrew Dreskin made the decision to step down from Eventbrite’s board of directors, choosing to transition into a multi-year advisory role within the company and return to his entrepreneurial roots. The Ticketfly platform he launched in 2008 was sunset in 2019. 
To the surprise of absolutely no one, the behemoth that is Ticketmaster continued to grow in 2019, acquiring Moshtix in Australia and Ticketmaster Mexico in Live Nation’s purchase of Mexican promoting titan OCESA from CIE, along with a string of other developments. 
The company’s initial onsale for Billie Eilish’s massive “Where Do We Go? World Tour” reportedly sold 500,000 tickets in an hour
Being the biggest ticketing company has its own challenges, though, as Ticketmaster was also a clear target of public ire and political pressure in 2019. TM agreed to pay out $4.5 million in June to settle a case of “misleading pricing” brought by Canada’s Competition Bureau and was hit with a $6.6 million damages claim in the U.K. over a 2018 data breach.
U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-NJ) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) asked the DOJ to launch an antitrust investigation of competition in the ticketing industry, apparently targeting Live Nation and TM as the 10-year consent decree that allowed the companies to merger is set to expire in 2020.