The headlines this week are full of great news for consumers – “all-in” ticket pricing is here, according to promises from Ticketmaster and parent Live Nation Entertainment (and SeatGeek and TickPick) touted by the Biden Administration. Long a priority for those looking to improve the ticket-buying experience for consumers, true all-in pricing would make comparison shopping easier, eliminating the shock of last-minute fees added to the price of events.
Unfortunately, the coverage of the promises from some of the major players in ticketing largely missed a very significant detail: Ticketmaster and Live Nation (and SeatGeek) aren’t going to stop hiding fees by default. Rather, both simply pledged that they will allow for consumers to select to view ticket prices with fees included – something that both were already offering save states that have already required all-in pricing display by law.
This may lead to significant disappointment from some consumers who log on to buy tickets, only to be greeted by the same hidden fees at the end of their shopping journey unless they chose to turn on the “all-in” pricing toggle before they started looking.
The toggle, shown above as it appears on Ticketmaster.com as of June 17, is something that Ticketmaster has typically offered for all events on its marketplace for some time now. SeatGeek has done the same. Both are drawing major praise for the simple promise to continue doing so, because it seems that most of the media took the announcement to mean that the toggle would be on by default, rather than able to be selected.
Just look at a quick selection of headlines from Thursday’s announcement:
Only one company involved in Thursday’s announcement, TickPick, shows the full price inclusive of all charges by default, as it always has done. Its CEO, Brett Goldberg, pointed this out in his statement following the roundtable at the White House.
“When we founded TickPick in 2011, we recognized the need to provide consumers with the utmost transparency,” Goldberg said. “We set the standard for all-in pricing, and it’s encouraging to see small steps being taken across the industry towards that vision. But legislation is still required to ensure every ticket to a live event includes true all-in pricing. We will continue to lead advocacy efforts on all-in pricing, putting our customer experience first and challenging the industry to improve. I appreciate the White House’s leadership on this issue and President Biden’s recognition of TickPick as an innovator in the ticketing space.”
Other marketplaces that offer true all-in ticket pricing by default include MEGASeats.com, and Ticket Club, which shows the discounted prices inclusive of all fees for those who are members on its platform, while non-members have the choice between adding the cost of a 1-year membership to their transaction, or paying a service fee.
TicketNews surveyed the landscape of ticketing fees after “junk fees” and all-in ticket pricing was a major talking point coming out of the 2019 FTC hearing on the ticketing industry. At that time, there were the same three major marketplaces offering all-in pricing that do now. Beyond that, there was a patchwork of companies that allowed consumers to search with or without including fees in the price display (with the toggle defaulting to “off”) and some – Vivid Seats most notably) that required personal or payment information to be entered before the actual price of tickets would be displayed.
Four years later, the landscape remains the same – consumers are shown all-in pricing by default almost nowhere, a fact which will not change with this week’s news, regardless of what the headlines are claiming. SeatGeek CEO Jack Groetzinger, who was among those who testified in favor of significant marketplace reform in January before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, acknowledged this in a statement shared following the event.
“For far too long, fans have lacked important consumer protections that other industries take for granted,” he says. “Fans want to understand the full cost of their purchase, with no deception or surprises along the way. We have been promoters of increased price transparency in ticketing since we started SeatGeek. Today’s White House announcement is an encouraging step forward, but there is still more to be done. We hope today’s announcement sets a positive example for more action to come.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar, who has been a prominent critic of Live Nation and its market power, encouraged lawmakers to keep on the process of passing legislation designed to bring stronger rules regulating the ticketing space, including meaningful all-in ticket pricing requirements across the board, by default rather than via toggle that consumers may struggle to find.
On ticketing companies’ pledge for up front fee disclosure:
While this is a good step forward there is much more we have to do, particularly in the live event market. We have to protect consumers and address Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s monopoly power and strengthen competition.…
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) June 16, 2023
Currently, there are several bills proposing true all-in ticket pricing among their updates to the regulatory climate for ticketing. There is the TICKET Act, which is primarily concerned with bringing all-in pricing. Then there is the Junk Fee Prevention Act, which would bring both all-in pricing by default and transparency on ticket holdbacks, both of which have been pursued as priorities by President Biden as part of his anti “junk fee” crusade.
From longtime Ticketmaster/Live Nation merger critic Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), there is the BOSS and SWIFT Act, which would introduce a wide array of reforms, including all-in pricing and holdback transparency, as well as other measures to improve both the primary and secondary ticket buying experience for consumers. He issued a blistering statement following this week’s news, strongly skeptical that the promises of “all-in” ticketing from Ticketmaster would lead to any meaningful change.
“Few industries in the entire country are abused and manipulated with shady practices and secret fees as much as live events, with Live Nation-Ticketmaster being the worst offender of all,” the Congressman says. “Live Nation’s promise today to give Americans price transparency at their venues is encouraging, but we need all-in pricing at all venues, for all live events, and on all ticket selling services now.”
For nearly 15 years, I have been calling for rules over the broken live events marketplace,” he continued. “My federal BOSS and SWIFT ACT legislation would mandate in law all-in pricing for true transparency. Not until every seller offers all-in pricing can consumers get the comparison shopping experience for tickets that they deserve. This company has made unfulfilled promises before and I’ll wait and hope this actually happens. In the meantime will continue to urge Live Nation-Ticketmaster’s breakup.”
For now, consumers are hopefully at least better aware of their ability to view ticket prices including fees on marketplaces that allow for that selection, even if promises for a truly transparent ticket pricing ecosystem are very premature at this point. It seems very likely that federal legislation requiring this transparency will be passed at some point soon, but for now only TickPick, MEGASeats, and Ticket Club offer consumers all-in pricing as the default.
Last Updated on June 20, 2023