Following the landscape-altering announcement last week that venue operator SMG was jumping to Live Nation for ticketing next year, now comes word that the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden (MSG) in New York, might also leave longtime ticket partner Ticketmaster for Live Nation’s new ticketing operation.
Such a move if it happened, and it is premature to do more than speculate, could mark the beginning of a small domino effect where other venues start moving away from Ticketmaster. Since the SMG announcement, Ticketmaster’s stock, which trades under the symbol TKTM, has dropped by almost 20 percent, and has fallen nearly 50 percent since being spun off from IAC/InterActiveCorp as its own publicly traded entity. Ticketmaster has aggressively tried to reverse the perception that its market dominance is eroding.
The Wall Street Journal today reported the potential MSG shift, based on statements made by Cablevision CEO James Dolan during a Goldman Sachs investment conference. Cablevision owns MSG; Radio City Music Hall; one of the nation’s leading cable television companies; and the New York Knicks and New York Rangers, among other holdings.
Dolan reportedly said that while Cablevision does not have any problems with Ticketmaster, Live Nation’s emergence as a potential ticketing power has caused the company to consider it as an option. Live Nation’s stock, which trades under the symbol LYV, saw a bump after the announcement, but shares have been back down for most of the week during the current turmoil on Wall Street.
But Dolan, who famously kept the New York Yankees off of Cablevision for a year to strong-arm the team and its YES television network into a more favorable fee structure, has a slightly rocky recent history with Ticketmaster, since the two unsuccessfully discussed teaming up to buy a major stake in AEG Live.
Dolan has long been considered a shrewd negotiator, so he could have been making the statements as leverage to scare Ticketmaster into offering Cablevision better terms.