The Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt) in Germany issued a ban on exclusive contracts with box offices and promoters by CTS Eventim, which dominates the ticketing market in the country, holding a 50-70% market share. The agency cited the company’s dominant market position in its belief that such exclusive contracts were an abuse of the company’s reach, according to reporting by IQ-mag.net.
According to the Bundeskartellamt, these “abusive exclusivity contracts with event organisers and advance booking offices” are shutting out competing ticketers and “encouraging a general trends towards further monopolisation” in Germany. Under today’s judgment, Eventim partners must have the option of selling at least 20% of their inventory annually via other ticket agencies, if their deal with the company is longer than two years. CTS has been given four months to comply with the ruling.
Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt, says: “As the operator of the largest ticketing system in Germany, CTS Eventim holds a dominant position in the market. Under competition law, a company with such a market position has special obligations.
“Where CTS Eventim commits its contract partners to sell tickets exclusively via its own ticketing system, the company is abusing its market power to the detriment of competition. With our decision, substantial ticket quotas will be freed up for sale via competing ticketing systems.”
The company has announced it has no plans to accept the decision and will fight it in court.
“The decision of the Federal Cartel Office ignores the fierce competition in the market for ticket services, which is constantly increasing as a result of frequent market entries by digital providers from Germany and abroad,” it reads.
“Against this background, we have to assume that the Cartel Office has gone into this procedure with a preconceived notion that does not adequately reflect this development. All the investigations in the three-year proceedings were apparently aimed at confirming this belief.
“We regret that the agency has not adequately considered our strong counter-arguments, especially as they are supported by current studies and economic expert reports. [If] they had, the investigation would have led to a different outcome.”
“For these reasons,” the statement concludes, “we will not accept the decision of the Federal Cartel Office and [will] engage the courts to correct it.”
For those familiar with the United States ticketing world vs. Europe, it’s a bit of a shock to see a governmental agency take such a stance. The current dominant ticketing agent in the U.S. – Ticketmaster – thrives in large part because of venue exclusivity concerts and its ties with parent company Live Nation. The company’s defense of such exclusivity is the core of the ongoing lawsuit brought by Songkick/Crowdsurge that alleges anti-competitive practices which drove the smaller fan club ticketing operator out of business. Obviously different markets have different rules – but it is obviously eyebrow-raising to see such action taking specifically because of one ticketing company being so dominant in its market.
We’ll update this ongoing story as more details become available.