Live Nation Chairman Irving Azoff this week acknowledged the growing threat that the new ticketing venture by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) poses to its Ticketmaster division, but tried to ensure to investors that the company has advantages that will keep it dominant.
Azoff made the remarks Thursday, September 15, at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Media, Communications & Entertainment Conference where he stressed that he believes Ticketmaster has a superior ticketing platform, better marketing arm and strong call center operation compared to what AEG will offer.
AEG, which teamed with Outbox Technology to create its new ticketing solution, will pose a formidable challenge to Ticketmaster because AEG already owns or operates more than 100 major venues in North America and overseas, which will give the new venture a leg up over the growing list of competitors.
AEG’s ticketing effort with Outbox will differ from Ticketmaster in that it will take a “white label” approach where venues will have their own branded Web sites to sell tickets, instead of Ticketmaster’s consolidated approach through Ticketmaster.com. AEG recently launched its own axs.com site that will also aggregate ticket sales for its venues, but the main approach is for individual venues to own their own customer database and marketing.
“We’re thrilled that AEG chose Outbox,” Azoff said, appearing to scoff at the notion of the rivalry. By acknowledging AEG by name and addressing the competition, however, it would also appear that AEG is making Live Nation nervous. “Venues that choose AEG won’t have any marketing, and I don’t believe they’ll have as good a ticketing platform.”
Live Nation President and CEO Michael Rapino backed up Azoff’s sentiments by saying that for the brief time Live Nation was not using Ticketmaster before the two merged, ticket sales plummeted 20 percent.
“If you’re looking to sell the most tickets, we’re by far the greatest choice,” Rapino said.
Former Ticketmaster CEO Fred Rosen, who is heading up the AEG/Outbox effort, told TicketNews that Azoff’s remarks do not faze him, in part because he believes the paradigm is shifting in the ticketing business where venues want to keep their own customer data and marketing to them directly, which the AEG venture allows.
Ticketmaster launched its own data analytics division earlier this year, which Rapino said already has 20 clients. But, Ticketmaster has turned that into a $1.5 million revenue stream by selling the data to those clients, instead of making it available as part of the platform as AEG/Outbox will do.
“We’re thrilled that Irving’s thrilled,” Rosen said. “But, the last time I looked, the marketplace is going to make these decisions, not Irving.
“As for the marketing aspect that he talks about, if people can find tickets for club shows, they can certainly find tickets for arenas and theaters without going to Ticketmaster,” he added.