Ron Bension, a former CEO of Tickets.com, has been tapped as the new CEO of TicketsNow, Ticketmaster Entertainment’s beleaguered secondary ticket company which could be on the block for sale.
Ticketmaster and TicketsNow spent much of 2009 defending their business practices following a rash of consumer complaints and lawsuits in Canada and the U.S. over the way fans allegedly were redirected from Ticketmaster’s Web site to TicketsNow when primary tickets were sold out.
Artists as diverse as Bruce Springsteen and Trent Reznor criticized the companies over the way it was handling ticket sales and resales, shedding a negative light on TicketsNow that it has had difficulty casting off.
The Springsteen ticketing debacle was allegedly so bad that Ticketmaster and TicketsNow were forced to apologize to The Boss and to settle a complaint lodged by New Jersey Attorney General Anne Milgram over the way the two handled ticket sales for his 2009 tour.
Ticketmaster Entertainment CEO Irving Azoff publicly criticized the $265 million purchase of TicketsNow, which was made during the tenure of former Ticketmaster President and CEO Sean Moriarty, and said he would sell it if he could. Whether Azoff can sell it remains to be seen after the way he and Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino have disparaged the secondary ticket market, even if he’s forced to sell it as a concession to gain Department of Justice approval of the proposed merger of Ticketmaster and Live Nation.
Ticketmaster spokesperson Hannah Kampf did not return a message seeking comment, but in a press release announcing the appointment, Azoff praised Bension.
“We are very fortunate to have Ron leading TicketsNow. His wide breadth of operating successes and strong industry relationships will play an instrumental role in driving key growth opportunities and partnerships for TicketsNow, and we’re thrilled to have him on the team,” Azoff said.
Bension said in the statement that he was excited to join the company during what is a “pivotal time” in its history. “TicketsNow provides me with a great opportunity to work with a talented group of people and leverage my experience to lead in new product innovation and further evolve the TicketsNow brand and competitive position.”
Last fall, Shawn Freeman stepped down as president of TicketsNow and was replaced on a temporary basis by Eric Korman who oversaw the division’s operations.
Bension was first introduced to the company’s broker clients in an email today from John Ketchum, senior vice president of Corporate Programs:
Please join me in welcoming Ron Bension as Chief Executive Officer of TicketsNow. In this newly created position, Ron will work closely with Ticketmaster and our executive team here to develop and produce new offerings for consumers and foster strategic business growth.
Ron’s breadth and depth of experience in the leading several major e-commerce, recreation, and entertainment companies to financial and strategic success well prepares him for his role at TicketsNow. Most recently, Ron held the CEO post for ProLink Solutions in Phoenix. He previously served as CEO of Tickets.com, where he restructured the fledgling online ticketing technology and service, including shepherding the company’s relationships with Major League Baseball and the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and sale to MLB in 2005.
I look forward to working with Ron and hope to have an opportunity to personally introduce him to our many valued partners.