Back in 2000, when I co-founded StubHub!, secondary ticketing was a foreign concept. Consumers were skeptical that it was just scalping by another name, most states had strict laws preventing the resale of tickets, and the sports and music industries denied its existence. At the start of 2008, the world is a different place; the idea of secondary ticketing is well-established in the U.S. and has greatly benefited fans. Fans are more comfortable buying tickets from other consumers online, and they have the ability to see almost any show or sporting event that they want. Until very recently however, fans on the other side of the Atlantic didn’t have the same options and were stuck with the old problem of having to take their chances with a shady scalper on the street corner.
Since founding viagogo.com, now Europe’s leading secondary ticketing company, I have watched history repeat itself. Secondary ticketing is taking flight across Europe – viagogo now provides a trusted way to get tickets in London, Berlin or Amsterdam, and Europeans are beginning to enjoy the benefits that secondary ticketing has offered Americans for years.
Two weeks ago, a committee of politicians from the British Parliament rejected calls from the concert promoter and sports industry lobbies for legislation to prevent the resale of live event tickets and instead recommended industry self-regulation. This is another landmark event in the rapid growth of an increasingly global industry. The trend that we have witnessed in the U.S. of state after state repealing its anti-scalping laws – most recently New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Missouri – is now being seen across the globe. Outdated laws and opinions are being brushed aside to make way for market forces that create security and price transparency for fans. The invisible hand of Adam Smith, (a Brit no less), is guiding the ticketing industry towards a fairer, more open and fan-friendly future.
The market potential for a global secondary ticketing exchange is huge. By our calculations, the European market opportunity alone is worth at least $9 billion and globally it could exceed $25 billion by 2010. At the same time, the live entertainment industry is increasingly global – British bands continue to sell out concerts in the U.S., and the NFL is playing regular season games in London. Indeed, it is not surprising that none other than Ticketmaster owner Barry Diller was recently quoted at a Citigroup media conference as saying that “the secondary ticketing market is arguably larger, in terms of dollar value, than the primary market.”
When I started viagogo, no one had created a global ticketing marketplace where an artist could partner with a single ticketing company to support their entire world tour. No one had created a marketplace where a consumer in Cleveland wanting to see a Manchester United game while on vacation in the UK could use the same site where he bought and sold his Cleveland Browns tickets. As markets open up across the globe – this is the real future of secondary ticketing.
Over the next few years, we will see more countries modernize their laws and more sports franchises, recording artists and promoters demanding secondary ticket partners that can operate on a global scale. And secondary ticketing companies will be playing catch up to kickoff worldwide operations – being local is no longer an option.