DOJ Lawsuit Against Ticketmaster Sheds Light on Anticompetitive Conduct

Today the DOJ, joined by 30 state Attorneys General, announced the long anticipated lawsuit against Live Nation/Ticketmaster alleging that Live Nation has locked venues into exclusive contracts, pressured artists to use its services, and threatened rivals with financial retaliation. It also highlights the anticompetitive ticket sales tactics that Live Nation/Ticketmaster employs to restrict fans rights through tools like SafeTix. 

Sports Fans Coalition began calling for the break up of Ticketmaster many years ago, and in 2022 partnered with many other like minded organizations known as “The Break Up Ticketmaster Coalition.”  In November of that year, the Taylor Swift on sale debacle occurred and “The Great War” had begun. 

A year and a half after the Coalition came together, the DOJ answered our call by filing suit against Live Nation/Ticketmaster. The government’s complaint raises many of the concerns we previously identified and have tried to address through legislation at state and federal levels. These include exclusive contracts with venues and Ticketmaster’s control of customer data through its “SafeTix” product.

In the last several years, Sports Fans Coalition has urged lawmakers to pass laws that would prohibit the use of exclusive contracts to encourage competition and innovation in the primary ticketing market. These efforts were often opposed by Ticketmaster and the venues for which they ticket. Attorney General Garland specifically calls this out in his comments at this morning’s DOJ press conference. 

DOJ also alleges that Ticketmaster holds “data supremacy over rivals.” Data supremacy is the  ability to collect troves of data from users by preventing fans from transferring their tickets outside the Ticketmaster app. This means that Ticketmaster has all the personal data for the ticket purchaser, as well as every friend that fan wants to bring along. 

Ticketmaster’s data supremacy is also apparent in the requirement that ticket transfers occur in the app. This discourages fans from using alternative platforms, suppressing the secondary markets, and driving up prices for fans. It gives Ticketmaster valuable information which allows them to deny fans access to events at the gate. The DOJ’s complaint recognizes all of these concerns. 

The following can be attributed to Brian Hess, Executive Director of Sports Fans Coalition: 

“Sports Fans Coalition has called for the break up of Live Nation/Ticketmaster for many years. Today’s landmark lawsuit answers that call. The harms the DOJ has identified affect sports and concert fans alike, especially as a result of Ticketmaster’s ‘data supremacy’ scheme known as SafeTix, which makes it difficult for fans to freely transfer their tickets and puts these fans at risk for retaliation at the gate by denying them access. We applaud Assistant Attorney General Kanter and the 30 other state attorneys general for standing up for sports fans across the country and taking this important action.”

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  • Brian Hess
    published this page in Blog 2024-05-23 14:24:24 -0400