Making good on its plan to offer fans access to primary and secondary tickets, Ticketmaster has begun rolling out its new ticket resale initiative with its TicketsNow subsidiary.

Under the program, Ticketmaster clients can decide whether they want sold out tickets to their events to also be available to fans through TicketsNow, a secondary ticket marketplace that is similar to StubHub, Razorgator or TicketNetwork. If a fan is on searching for tickets but none are available, they would see a link that would take them to the TicketsNow resale site, where a disclaimer would alert them that they were leaving the Ticketmaster site for and that tickets might cost more.

Ticketmaster tried something similar in 2009 with disastrous results, and the company was forced to settle complaints of unfair business practices from the Federal Trade Commission and the New Jersey attorney general’s office. In addition, the company was sued over the move in Canada and in the U.S. The controversy arose after Bruce Springsteen fans, who were looking for tickets to concerts at the old Meadowlands complex, were redirected from Ticketmaster to TicketsNow without realizing they were now on a ticket resale site where pricing is often higher.

“This will provide fans more ticket options and in the process clients will participate in the revenue generated from the resulting ticket resale transactions,” Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard wrote in a blog post on the company’s Web site. “The concept is pretty simple: when a fan searches on Ticketmaster for tickets but there aren’t tickets available under those parameters, he or she gets a ‘no tickets found’ page. Clients who choose to place our fan-friendly, fan-tested links to TicketsNow on these ‘no tickets found’ pages will share in the revenue from transactions generated by these links. We will digitally authenticate tickets that are bought this way via our TicketFast product, and allow fans to print them at home, knowing they are legitimate and safe, providing the best experience possible for the fan as well as the venue.”

Hubbard even took to his Twitter page last week to announce the new initiative, “We believe in resale done right for fans+clients. Action, not just words. (sic)”

Whether the new initiative potentially violates any terms of the New Jersey settlement is unknown, but it appears that Ticketmaster may have avoided further trouble. Under the agreement, Ticketmaster was banned for a year from linking between its site and TicketsNow, and also needed approval from the attorney general’s office before it could do any linking on “no tickets found” pages. That ban has since expired.

A spokesperson for the New Jersey attorney general told TicketNews that they would look into the matter, but had not commented by press time.

“The settlement, known formally as an Assurance of Voluntary Compliance, places a wall between Ticketmaster and its ticket re-selling subsidiary for at least a year for all shows and entertainment events Ticketmaster handles,” the New Jersey attorney general’s office wrote in a February 2009 statement. Ticketmaster did not admit to any wrongdoing in relation to the settlement. “After the conclusion of the year, Ticketmaster will need prior approval from the Attorney General for any links between its ‘No Tickets Found’ Internet page to its TicketsNow re-sale website.

“Ticketmaster agreed not to engage in paid Internet search advertising that would lead consumers searching for ‘Ticketmaster’ on Internet search engines to its TicketsNow re-sale site,” the statement continued. “In addition, Ticketmaster confirmed and agreed that all tickets it receives for sale to the general public will be sold on its primary market website. Ticketmaster also agreed not to allow the sale or offer of sale of any tickets on the re-selling website until the initial sale begins on its primary website.”

Ticketmaster claims it has successfully used the new linking initiative with the National Football League, United States Tennis Association and World Wrestling Entertainment.

“As a result, fans will now have a safe and convenient place to see the full range of options and buy the ticket that is right for them,” Hubbard added. “Brokers and fans, in turn, will have a safe and targeted place to resell tickets. And, our clients can, for the first time, participate in the revenue and the customer data from the resale marketplace so they can get to know everyone that is coming to the event.”

A spokesperson for Jon Landau, Springsteen’s manager, told TicketNews that Landau had no comment on the new initiative. In addition to settling with the New Jersey attorney general’s office, the past linking scandal prompted a rare apology from Ticketmaster to Springsteen and his fans.

A spokesperson for the New Jersey Sports & Exposition Authority, which oversees the Meadowlands complex, did not respond to a message seeking comment.

How the initiative will affect ticket brokers remains to be seen, but in the short term it could be beneficial, according to broker Steve Lichtman, owner of Prestige Entertainment.

“This could be very positive in the short term because it means more business from [TicketsNow],” Lichtman told TicketNews. Hundreds of brokers use TicketsNow and the other ticket exchanges to sell tickets. “But in the long term, it’s just one step closer to the artists, venues, promoters, etc. putting their inventory directly on the exchanges themselves to capture more revenue and cut out the brokers.”

TicketNetwork is the parent company of TicketNews.

Last Updated on August 22, 2011 by By Alfred Branch Jr.