Despite widespread opposition to the deal from brokers, Ticketmaster today announced it had completed its purchase of the nation’s number-two ranked secondary ticket reseller...

Despite widespread opposition to the deal from brokers, Ticketmaster today announced it had completed its purchase of the nation’s number-two ranked secondary ticket reseller TicketsNow. Ticketmaster never officially disclosed the financial terms of the deal, which was scrutinized and approved by the federal government for possible anti-trust violations, but published reports placed the purchase price at $265 million.

The acquisition changes the ticket-selling landscape as Ticketmaster, already the largest primary ticket seller, according to TicketNews’ exclusive market rankings, is now poised to become the second-largest secondary ticket reseller with its sights set squarely on its rival StubHub for the top slot.

But, questions remain about how the relationship between Ticketmaster and TicketsNow will play out, especially as it relates to information about brokers and their sales, and how much of an advantage Ticketmaster may gain by having access to that data.

“As long as they [Ticketmaster] totally go free market, then it’s OK with me,” said Arizona State University Economics Professor Stephen Happel, one of the nation’s leading authorities on the ticketing industry. “But, the question is will Ticketmaster use the inherent advantages it has in the primary market to then channel tickets quietly through TicketsNow? They say they’re for transparency, but this is the same group that not that long ago was fighting vehemently against the secondary market before they found religion.”

Ticketmaster, which watched for years as StubHub and others grew and dominated the secondary market at the expense of its own TicketExchange model, knew it needed to make a big splash in the secondary market soon or risk being irreparably damaged, especially as it prepares for life without its largest customer, Live Nation, which is launching its own primary ticketing operation in 2009.

Industry heavyweight Harris Rosner, owner of VIPTickets.com, believes the deal will be a boon to ticket brokers because it further mainstreams what was once a stealth or clandestine market. “This raises the bar and further legitimizes the whole industry,” Rosner said. “I can’t say that I know all the answers as to how this will all shake out, but evolution was inevitable. Besides, I don’t think it’s in Ticketmaster’s best interest to pay $265 million for a company that they’ll implode.”

Sean Moriarty, president and CEO of Ticketmaster, said in a statement that the acquisition will redefine the ticket market. “We are going to provide fans more options and the most secure, reliable and convenient way to buy tickets to the events they want to attend at a price they are willing to pay.”

Cheryl Rosner, CEO of TicketsNow, who will remain in charge of the company, added, “TicketsNow revolutionized the event ticket industry by providing great service and technology to the broker community and by ensuring the quality of resellers in our marketplace. By combining with Ticketmaster, TicketsNow is able to offer our partners a greatly expanded market opportunity and provide fans even higher levels of service and security.”

-Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner also contributed to this story.

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