The outrage among Taylor Swift fans over Ticketmaster’s service collapse on Tuesday brought to light a common and recurring criticism of the ticketing company: it has virtually no competition. For many buyers, there is no way to avoid Ticketmaster if you want to attend an event.
Tuesday’s collapse prompted lawmakers to dismantle Live Nation, the nation’s largest concert promoter and parent company of Ticketmaster, which they say has a stranglehold on ticket sales for major events.
“@Ticketmaster’s excessive wait times and fees are totally unacceptable, as seen with today’s @taylorswift13 tickets, and are a symptom of a larger problem. It’s no secret to person that Live Nation-Ticketmaster is an uncontrolled monopoly”, tweeted Rep. David Cicilline, currently chairman of the House Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee.
“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, its merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they must be restrained,” tweeted U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Even some opposed to calls for antitrust action against big tech companies fired at Ticketmaster on Wednesday. NetChoice, a trade group backed by some of the tech giants such as Amazon, Google and Facebook holding company Meta, said those calling for breaking up big tech companies should instead focus on breaking up Live Nation and Facebook. Ticket master.
“Congress and the Federal Trade Commission have wasted their time and taxpayers’ money trying to dramatically change antitrust laws and bringing baseless lawsuits against companies like Meta, which operate in highly competitive environments. Instead of that, the government should use existing resources and laws to protect consumers and investigate Ticketmaster’s anti-competitive practices in the concert market,” the group said.
Ticketmaster did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But complaints about the company’s monopoly power date back long before Tuesday’s ticket issues, when the platform appeared to crash or freeze during pre-sale purchases for Swift’s latest tour.
In 1994, when Taylor Swift was just four years old and queues for tickets were in person or over the phone, not online, rock band Pearl Jam filed a complaint with from the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division claiming that Ticketmaster had a “near absolute monopoly on the distribution of tickets to concerts. He tried to book his tour only at venues that did not use Ticketmaster.
The Justice Department and numerous state attorneys general have filed similar complaints over the years.
Despite these concerns, Ticketmaster continued to become more dominant. Pearl Jam’s complaint was quietly dismissed. The Justice Department and the states cleared the Live Nation Ticketmaster merger despite a 2010 court filing in the case raising objections to the merger. In the filing, the Justice Department said Ticketmaster’s share among major concert venues exceeded 80%.
Ticketmaster disputes that market share estimate and believes it has at most just over 30% of the concert market, according to comments on NPR recently by Joe Berchtold, chief financial officer of Live Nation Entertainment.
But market share numbers don’t really matter for the thousands of shows and sporting events for which Ticketmaster has contracts to handle initial ticket sales, whether it’s for a Taylor Swift concert in a NFL stadium or for a little-known band playing in an intimate venue. club.
And fans who wish to attend these events have virtually no alternative but to pay the substantial fees added to ticket prices by Ticketmaster.
Past efforts to limit Ticketmaster’s control of the ticket market have failed. Pearl Jam abandoned its efforts in 1995. The Justice Department and states approved the Live Nation-Ticketmaster combination, but called for some oversight. Now, the matter might not end there.
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Company. Discovery. All rights reserved.