Antitrust lawyers working for the Department of Justice have been in contact with at least two companies in competition with Ticketmaster as part of the investigation into allegations of monopolistic behavior by that company and parent Live Nation Entertainment, according to reporting by Bloomberg. SeatGeek and Paciolan have both received requests for information as part of the probe, which became public during the fallout from the Taylor Swift Eras Tour ticket sales mess in the fall of 2022.
The civil investigative demands, sent last month, seek details on the primary ticketing market — where companies sell tickets on behalf of an event provider — as well as the resale market, said the people who asked to remain anonymous to discuss a confidential probe. Closely held SeatGeek Inc. and Paciolan LLC both received the document requests, they said.
Neither company provided comment to Bloomberg regarding the requests for information regarding the probe. SeatGeek CEO Jack Groetzinger testified publicly before the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of a January hearing regarding competition concerns and allegations of anticompetitive behavior by Live Nation Entertainment and its ticketing subsidiary. “The only way to restore competition in this industry is to break up Ticketmaster and Live Nation,” he told the committee at that time.
SeatGeek has grown from its beginnings as a ticket resale search engine into a primary market ticketing competitor to Ticketmaster in recent years, though it is still miniscule by comparison. The company is the primary ticketing partner of a small but growing number of NBA, NFL, and NHL franchises, and has further deals on both the primary and secondary ticketing markets for Broadway shows, Major League Baseball, and college sports, including a recently inked partnership with Paciolan.
Paciolan is one of the major ticketing providers for NCAA sports, and was once owned by Ticketmaster, though it was spun off as part of the 2010 merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster. It is now owned by Learfield.
The current DOJ investigation is far from the first time the company has been examined for allegations of anticompetitive behavior. Live Nation and Ticketmaster agreed to competition conditions as a part of the approval of their 2010 merger, and saw those conditions modified and extended after a settlement with the DOJ in 2019. This current investigation comes amid a renewed push by some lawmakers to better regulate the ticketing and entertainment industry, many of whom say the size and scope of the company leaves no room for meaningful competition, and stifles innovation, leading to poor consumer outcomes and higher prices.
As Bloomberg points out, many industry estimates put Ticketmaster as having around 80% of the primary ticketing market business in North America, with between 20-30% of the secondary market. Ticketmaster says the figure is much lower (50-60%) and is attempting to answer criticism by blaming ticket resale for all of the consumer issues in ticketing and asking lawmakers to regulate that side of the business rather than take action against its operations.
Last Updated on March 10, 2023 by Dave Clark