Last Thursday, thousands of Ed Sheeran fans were furious after they were left outside of his concert at the Melbourne Cricket ground in Australia, due to mobile ticket issues with the Ticketek system. The crowd, which reportedly set an Australian record with well over 108,000 fans in attendance, saw huge issues as they attempted to enter the grounds, and prompting an official apology from the ticketing provider, which is owned by TEG, the nation’s largest concert promoter.

“Ticketek apologizes to those fans who experienced a delay in entering the MCG for Ed Sheeran’s concert last night,” a Ticketek spokesperson told media following the mess. “We thank fans for their patience whilst Ticketek enabled a solution, which saw all fans admitted prior to the start of the concert.”

While event operators continue to try to force consumers into the use of mobile-only ticketing systems, there is a long precedent for issues that consumers experience if those systems fail. Last Thursday was a prime example. According to coverage of the concert, only one of the seven stadium gates was open, and the lack of access to the mobile ticketing system forced fans to queue for paper tickets in order to gain access to the event.

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Fans took to twitter to vent their frustrations:

“Hey @Ticketek_AU your system has crashed AGAIN! Thousands outside the @MCG Not able to access their tickets. You have failed again at a major event,” one Twitter user said.

Sheeran’s show is just the latest in a long line of examples of moble-only ticketing systems failing to meet the demand and causing problems. Traditionally, they have been due to system issues as the event time drew closer, such as the College Football Playoff in 2018, as and a multi-event outage in 2017. Even the Super Bowl was impacted this year, with a Ticketmaster outage shutting down the pregame ticket market in Los Angeles. The Ticketmaster “safetix” system has also been employed to lock people out of events deliberately, in the interest of locking out potential competition from resale marketplaces.

Back to Sheeran. Once fans were able to get in to the stadium, the night reportedly turned around. He performed on a 360-degree platform that had special effects blasting into the sky throughout his performance. He wowed the crowd with his classics, and paid tribute to his late friend, Shane Warne who has a stand in the Melbourne Cricket Ground. He also made sure to play, ‘Visiting Hours,’ for his late mentor and friend, Michael Gudinski.

But successful show aside, the consumer issues for mobile-only ticketing remain, and are an extra headache for fans, even before they make their way to a venue.

“@Ticketek_AU ummm this is for Ed Sheeran tomorrow night.. anyone else having the same issue,” one fan tweeted.

Sheeran’s tour continues throughout 2023, with eventual plans to head to North America for a slot at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival as well as tour dates at stadiums throughout the summer. Prior to that, the singer has one remaining show in Australia, and then several shows in Europe and the UK before heading to this side of the Atlantic.

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Ed Sheeran 2023 Tour Dates

March 12 – Perth, AUS | Optus Stadium
March 23 –  Manchester, UK | AO Arena
March 24 – London, UK | The O2
March 25 – London, UK | The O2
March 28 – Glasgow, UK | OVO Hydro
March 30 – Dublin, Ire | 3Arena
April 2 – Paris, FR | Accor Arena
May 6 – Arlington, TX | AT&T Stadium
May 13 – Houston, TX | NRG Stadium
May 20 – Tampa, FL | Raymond James Stadium
May 27 – Atlanta, GA | Mercedes-Benz Stadium
June 3 – Philadelphia, PA | Lincoln Financial Field
June 17 – Toronto, ON | Rogers Centre
June 24 – Landover, MD | FedEx Field
July 1 – Foxborough, MA | Gillette Stadium
July 8 – Pittsburgh, PA | Acrisure Stadium
July 15 – Detroit, MI | Ford Field
July 22 – Nashville, TN | Nissan Stadium
July 29 – Chicago, IL | Soldier Field
August 5 – Kansas City, MO | GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium
August 12 – Minneapolis, MN | U.S. Bank Stadium
August 19 – Denver, CO | Empower Field at Mile High
August 26 – Seattle, WA | Lumen Field
September 2 – Vancouver, BC | BC Place
September 9 – Las Vegas, NV | Allegiant Stadium
September 16 – Santa Clara, CA | Levi’s Stadium
September 23 – Inglewood, CA | SoFi Stadium

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