Ticketmaster’s decision to shutter Seatwave and Get Me In! in Europe was a bold one, and a big victory for the FanFair Alliance and its fellow anti-secondary ticketing campaigners.
Once a giant like Ticketmaster has decided the sector is more trouble than it’s worth – even though the secondary market is worth billions of dollars – the writing really is on the wall. Yet there remains a conundrum at the heart of secondary ticketing: it’s not illegal, even if many people believe it should be. And it remains popular with a certain type of consumer, who’s happy to pay over the odds to get the ticket they want at the time they want it.
The Labour MP and long-term anti-touting campaigner Sharon Hodgson was right to turn the pressure straight back on StubHub and Viagogo, because pure market economics suggest that those companies – and perhaps those gentlemen in unfeasibly large coats outside the nation’s live venues – might actually be the biggest beneficiaries of Ticketmaster’s move.
The biz needs to work out a way to make fans that use – maybe even rely upon – secondary sites to engage with the primary sector
StubHub no doubt shares some of the corporate concerns that Ticketmaster had, although Viagogo seems to have gone rather more rogue. And, in America, secondary ticketing remains so stitched into the fabric of the US live business, it’s hard to imagine it ever going away completely.
It won’t disappear in the UK without a fight either, which is why it’s so important that, if the business is serious about eradicating the practice, it doesn’t stop here. It needs to work out a way to make those fans that use – maybe even rely upon – secondary sites to engage with the primary sector.
And, most of all, it needs to come up with a foolproof way to stop tickets falling into the wrong hands at the wrong price.
The industry has the technology to make that happen. All it needs now is the will.