January 23, 2008 Alfred Branch Jr.
A week after the announcement, the pending acquisition of TicketsNow by primary ticketing giant Ticketmaster continues to spark an avalanche of opinions concerning the merits of the deal.
A group of anonymous brokers has threatened to remove its ticket inventory listing from TicketsNow, based on comments recently posted on TicketNews, and Steven Pearlstein, the business columnist for the Washington Post, is calling on the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal regulators to consider turning down the proposed deal on antitrust grounds.
“And you can be sure it won’t be long before the venues give the newly combined firm the ‘exclusive’ rights to offer a secondary market for their tickets and threaten legal action against competing resellers that deal in their wares,” Pearlstein wrote in the Post. “Call me cynical, but this doesn’t exactly sound like a deal that’s likely to increase competition, lower prices or expand consumer choice. The antitrust police ought to take a careful look at this one.”
Brokers who are against the proposed purchase are being urged to write in to the U.S. Department of Justice with their opposition to the $265 million deal. StubHub!, in an angry email to brokers, condemned the proposed deal, and TicketNetwork, owner of TicketNews, also wrote to brokers that the company was planning to oppose the deal.
At the same time, there are brokers and fans who believe the deal will be a positive for the market by forcing brokers to be more transparent in their pricing. “I just see this as making our lives that much easier,” wrote one broker to TicketNews. “Most of my tickets are sold through TicketsNow, so the more people who buy through that site, means more of my tickets selling. Before I started using them, there was no way I could have sold tickets effectively [with] my own web site, or sell tickets to events not in my area very [easily], for example, because I didn’t have a lot of exposure. TicketsNow takes care of all of that, and I can move a lot more inventory. I don’t see what the problem is here?”
The National Association of Ticket Brokers, which has invited Ticketmaster CEO Sean Moriarty to keynote its upcoming broker conference, does not have an official opinion about the proposed merger, but NATB President Tom Patania, owner of the ticket brokerage Select-A-Ticket, told TicketNews that he sees it as an “obvious endorsement” of the viability of the secondary market.