In what appears to be a large-scale action against dozens of ticket brokers all at once, Ticketmaster has begun to systematically block access to its Web site for hours or days at a time.
The blockages appear to be generally geared toward brokers who heavily access the site looking for tickets, which on the surface might indicate that Ticketmaster believes that these brokers may be using automated software to do so, software that in some cases is called “bot software,” which has been outlawed in several states.
There are no firm estimates on how many brokers may use, or have used, such software, but because of the attention it received following the Hannah Montana ticketing debacle in 2007 and 2008, most brokers simply don’t want to endure the hassles associated with using such applications. Many others don’t use it because they want to continue to elevate the industry by playing fairly.
But, what TicketNews has learned is that dozens of brokers who claim they are not using such software have also been blocked, which has taken place periodically over the last couple of weeks.
What makes this alleged situation different than in the past is that Ticketmaster’s current measures are supposedly more sophisticated now than simply blocking computer IP addresses, something the company has done for years. The company has temporarily blocked IP addresses of brokers it believed were over accessing its Web site, but the sheer number of blocked brokers, and the perceived or apparent ability to block specific computers within a particular IP address appears to be an aggressive new development.
The issue raises potential business profitability questions for Ticketmaster, which owns its own secondary ticket Web site, TicketsNow, which some of the brokers that were blocked also use to resell tickets.
In addition, the situation also raises the specter of how much control Ticketmaster has over the industry if it can, seemingly at will, systematically shut off access to tickets for certain brokers. Ticketmaster’s market dominance has been criticized for years, especially now considering its proposed merger with Live Nation.
Ticketmaster spokesperson Hannah Kampf did not respond to questions about the company’s alleged blocking of brokers. For the most part, the blocking would last for several hours, but in some cases would last for a couple of days.