Entertainment guide publisher Time Out — producers of popular weekly magazines that serve several cities around the world — is looking to jump into the ticketing industry by taking on GrouponLive, the new discount ticketing site created by Groupon and Live Nation.
GrouponLive primarily moves hard-to-sell tickets at a discount, utilizing an all-in pricing scheme to avoid confusing fans with added fees.
The eventual offering from Time Out, details for which have not been fully disclosed, hopes to capitalize on the reviews the publications run about events to entice readers to then buy tickets or other goods and services. The publications’ Web sites will not only sell event tickets but also allow users to book hotel or restaurant reservations and other travel-related services.
Peter Dubens, founder of Bermuda-based Oakley Capital Investments Ltd., recently told Bloomberg that the Time Out brand carries a lot of weight in London and New York, the two largest cities it serves. Oakley owns a majority stake in the company and is helping it expand its online presence.
Time Out publishes entertainment guides in 35 cities around the world, with plans to reach 50 cities in the near future. The exact time table for the ticketing rollout has not been disclosed.
“It’s a very special brand that’s inbred in our psyche here in London, and it’s been in New York since 1996. Unlike a Groupon or a deal business, which is basically just shifting out deals to millions of people, Time Out is writing about what’s relevant and cultural in London,” he said. “Oakley is helping give them the ability to offer those people reading the reviews the ability to stay on the site and book the ticket.”
Currently, some events on the Time Out Web sites contain links to buy tickets from Ticketmaster.com while others do not. For example, on the Time Out New York site, “Billy Elliot” has a link to Ticketmaster.com, but the popular “Book of Mormon” and other shows do not contain such a link.
Having a popular brand and driving fans to buy tickets are two different things, particularly when discounting is involved because not all content providers want to be associated with less-expensive inventory.
Fred Rosen, the former CEO of Ticketmaster who is now co-CEO of the new ticketing partnership created by Anschutz Entertainment Group and Outbox Technology, told TicketNews that while the barrier to entry for discount ticket sales is virtually nonexistent, he believes Time Out could be headed for choppy waters.
“Discounting tickets is a really bad idea and significantly dilutes the product,” Rosen said. “It may be good for the discounter but it’s bad for the producer because it undoubtedly destroys the integrity of the marketplace. Why would you want your tickets next to half-priced pizza or spinning classes?”