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NetChoice Presents at Ticket Summit 2010 — The Need for Transparency, Transferability and Interoperability

I’m at the Ticket Summit in New York City, where I presented on a panel about the legal and policy issues for the secondary ticket market. There’s been a lot of discussion of the Ticketmaster merger with Live Nation. Additionally, I’m hearing a lot about consumer expectations and resale rights so that the resale market can continue to operate in ways that benefit fans.


I spoke about the merger. As I’ve discussed in a previous blog post, the merger of the largest ticket issuer with the largest promoter raises red flags. Big isn’t necessarily bad, particularly in well-functioning competitive markets. However, the tickets market is unique in that you have a secondary marketplace (mostly Internet-based) that has existed and thrived due to inefficiencies in the primary market–and new paperless ticket technology threatens to kill-off secondary market competition.


There are three major issues in play for 2010, including:


  • Transparency:  Information is the key to well-functioning markets. Without adequate data on the number of tickets available for sale to the general public on first sale, prices can be artificially inflated (or depressed). There is a growing need for promoters and venues to be more transparent about how tickets are sold and the number of seats that are made available for purchase and are retained for distribution through alternative channels.
  • Transferability:  There were about 3 million paperless tickets sold in 2009, which sounds like a lot but it’s only about 1% of all tickets sold. Still, it’s a growing trend for primary ticket sellers to use a “paperless” format that they claim offers increased consumer convenience. But it’s really about control — control to restrict further resale. Miley Cyrus did not allow transfer of tickets once they were purchased. You couldn’t even give them away to friends or family!
  • Interoperability: So that consumers can transfer tickets, computer systems will need to interoperate and talk to each other. I’m not sure the best technological route for this, but a policy that allows (or in the case of the merger, would be a conditional requirement) for interoperability is key to a well-functioning tickets marketplace.


It will be a busy and important year for event tickets!


-Braden Cox