Cable television giant Comcast is reportedly in discussions with Live Nation and Ticketmaster Entertainment in a bid to help push through the planned merger of the concert and ticketing companies.
According to Bloomberg, Comcast is throwing its weight behind the merger because it could benefit by possibly cutting deals for any ticketing assets Ticketmaster and Live Nation might be forced to spin off to gain the favor of federal regulators. Through its Comcast-Spectacor division, Comcast owns the Philadelphia Flyers and 76ers, the Wachovia Center where the two teams play, and New Era Tickets.
Concerns over antitrust issues and the potential monopolistic power of a merged Ticketmaster and Live Nation have given U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) officials pause, and the agency is reportedly considering concessions that the two companies would have to give up in order to gain DOJ approval. If allowed to move forward, the combined Ticketmaster/Live Nation would be called Live Nation Entertainment.
Several scenarios are being considered, including the possible sale of all or parts of Live Nation’s nearly year-old ticketing operation, which the company launched as a defensive measure against Ticketmaster before the two companies decided to merge.
Comcast could make a play for that asset, though the operation was launched with the help of Germany based CTS Eventim, so there may be contractual issues to deal with before any such sale or transfer could be finalized. Comcast executives have reportedly already met with DOJ officials to discuss various scenarios.
Though most of its holdings are in Philadelphia, through its New Era Tickets subsidiary, Comcast-Spectacor has business relationships with the Portland Trail Blazers and World Wrestling Entertainment, according to Bloomberg. Those relationships could prove crucial because Ticketmaster and Live Nation could argue that it means that Comcast-Spectacor could become a viable competitive entity in ticketing to the new Live Nation Entertainment.
Last month, news broke that Comcast-Spectacor was considering its own paperless ticketing system to rival Ticketmaster’s.
Separately, Comcast is dealing with DOJ as part of the review of its proposed purchase of the television network NBC Universal from General Electric.