Ticketmaster Antitrust Case

Posted by Allison Woodlard.

In recent years, the live event ticketing industry has been surrounded by lawsuits as companies are engaging in harmful and anticompetitive behavior. This is further discussed in the Bloomberg Law article titled “ANALYSIS: Ticketmaster, TSwift, and Antitrust’s Role in Markets” written by legal analysis Eleanor Tyler. Live Nation Entertainment Inc. is composed of two companies: an events promoter and venue operator known as Live Nation, and the ticket sales giant known as Ticketmaster. In late November 2022, the U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into Ticketmaster and filed an antitrust lawsuit against them in response to the company’s handling of the sale for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour. Ticketmaster said that an unexpectedly high number of customers overloaded its system during the pre-approved fan sale, and as a result of this, their promised general public sale that was to follow was cancelled.

In addition to the situation with Taylor Swift’s tour, Ticketmaster has been in hot water because of their violation of antitrust regulations. The lawsuit centers around their use of exclusivity contracts with venues and promoters to prevent competitors from gaining a foothold in the market. This has led to higher ticket prices for consumers and limited choices for both fans and artists. In addition to this, it is alleged that Live Nation has used its control over concert venues to force other ticketing companies out of the market. This article further explores the broader issue of antitrust enforcement in the live event industry, particularly as it relates to the growing power of dominant players like Ticketmaster and Live Nation. It argues that antitrust laws are necessary to promote competition and protect consumers in this industry, but that enforcement efforts may be hindered by factors such as industry consolidation and the difficulty of defining relevant markets. It states, “the latest case pending in the California federal court, attacks head-on Ticketmaster’s claim that lawsuits must be arbitrated. It alleges that Ticketmaster has a new arbitration provision shunting claims to an arbitrator that is so procedurally and substantively unfair that the arbitration provision itself is unconscionable. In addition to that claim, the plaintiff alleges (as prior cases have) that Ticketmaster is leveraging its market power in the primary sales market to gain dominance in the secondary sales market” (Tyler, 2022).

In addition to this, Ticketmaster’s abuse of market power is also proven by their failure to crack down on ticket scalping. As the largest primary ticket seller in the US, they do not care if a true fan does not get the face-value ticket since they make much more money from the fees generated by scalpers and the reselling actions. The article states, “according to the latest SEC filings of Ticketmaster’s parent corporation, giant tour promoter and venue owner Live Nation Entertainment Inc., Ticketmaster’s resale business generated over $1.1 billion in gross transaction volume in the third quarter of 2022 alone, more than doubling its resale volume in Q3 2019” (Tyler, 2022). A face-value ticket sale to a fan only generates one fee for Ticketmaster, but a sale to a re-seller generates at least two, so the company has not expressed any plan to be stricter about it.

On a broader outlook, the potential success of the antitrust lawsuit against Ticketmaster and Live Nation could have far-reaching implications for the live event industry, potentially leading to increased competition, lower ticket prices, and more choice for consumers and artists. The author of the article emphasizes the importance of antitrust enforcement in promoting fair and open markets, particularly in industries that are dominated by a small number of players.

Allison is a sports management and marketing student at the Stillman School of Business, Seton Hall University, Class of 2025.

Tyler, Eleanor. “Analysis: Ticketmaster, TSWIFT, and Antitrust’s Role in Markets.” Bloomberg Law, 23 Nov. 2022, https://news.bloomberglaw.com/bloomberg-law-analysis/analysis-ticketmaster-tswift-and-antitrusts-role-in-markets.