O2 has reported a record-breaking year in 2023 for live entertainment with 1.4 million tickets sold through its Priority Tickets platform.
Beyoncé’s latest tour came out on top as the most popular event of the year. The data covers sales for tickets to events that happened in 2023 or are happening this year.
The results show how the live entertainment industry has continued to bounce back from the impact of the pandemic, as well as the sector’s resilience amid the ongoing cost of living challenges.
Tickets purchased through Priority experienced a 15% increase in 2023 compared to the previous year. O2’s customer generosity programme that provides O2 and Virgin Media broadband customers with 48-hour early exclusive early access.
In 2023, Priority gave customers exclusive access to 6,000-plus shows and 2,000 artists at more than 300 venues across the UK, from The O2 and O2 Academy venues to hundreds of other venues across the country. Other benefits include merch discounts, cloakroom services and VIP hospitality.
The Top 10 most sought after Priority Tickets shows of 2023 were:
Beyoncé: Beyoncé Renaissance World Tour
Madonna: Madonna Tour
Micky Flanagan: Micky Flanagan: If Ever We Needed It
SZA: SZA SOS Tour
Girls Aloud: Girls Aloud Reunion Tour
Post Malone: Twelve Carat Tour
Rick Gervais: Armageddon
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Throughout the year, O2 and Virgin Media broadband customers also got access to free and exclusive gigs with artists including Kylie Minogue and Anne-Marie as part of the company’s Priority presents gig series at O2 venues.
In 2023, O2 experienced more than 200,000 in-app customer engagements for the chance to attend a Priority gig. The series of intimate shows will continue in 2024.
Jim Campling, president of Live Nation UK’s marketing partnerships, said: “We’ve had the privilege of working closely with O2 since 2005 and are proud of the continued value Priority Tickets has created for customers across the country. The strength and success of the platform is a true testament to the longevity and unique nature of live music experiences. We look forward to an exciting future with O2 and their Priority members as live entertainment continues to be a cherished part of people’s lives and communities.”
Paul Samuels, executive vice president at AEG Global Partnerships, said: “The demand for live entertainment remains incredibly strong, and we’re thrilled to be at the forefront of catering to that demand alongside our O2, and to see Priority Tickets sales at the venue continuing to grow each year after nearly 17 years of successful partnership. 2023 was also our best ever year for Priority Tickets at The O2, with over 400,000 tickets sold to O2 and Virgin Media broadband customers through the platform for shows at the world’s busiest venue. With plenty of world-class artists already announced for this year at The O2, including multiple nights of Take That, Girls Aloud, The Killers, and more, we’re looking forward to working together to deliver even more unforgettable moments for fans in 2024.”
Here, Gareth Griffiths, director of partnerships and sponsorship at Virgin Media O2, reflects on the success of Priority Tickets and shares his outlook for 2024…
How has the Priority offering evolved in the past year? What are the insights on customer behaviour on the platform in 2023?
“2023 was a record-breaking year, our biggest ever with over 1.4 million Priority Tickets sold to O2 and Virgin Media broadband customers, 15% up on 2022. We’ve also evolved how we work with artists through Priority presents, our exclusive gig series at O2 venues.
“Over 110,000 customers applied to see Kylie Minogue at O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire last September, and we’re bringing even more exclusive shows to our venues across this year. We’ve been running pre-sales in the UK since O2 Wireless Festival in 2005, we’re 19 years in now, so I’m pleased we’re going from strength to strength, working closely with our fantastic partners at Live Nation and AEG.”
We know the artists our customers love, and we have strong and longstanding relationships within the music industry
What was behind these record results for Priority? What's driving the sales performance?
“No one does pre-sales like O2. We know the artists our customers love, and we have strong and longstanding relationships within the music industry. We also have a customer base that is now 50% of UK homes, so our reach and scale is unrivalled. Priority has a presence in our 300 high-street stores, and we have a fantastic set of O2 venues such as The O2 in London and nationwide through our O2 Academy network.
“In 2023 alone we gave our customers exclusive access to over 6,000 shows and 2,000 artists at more than 300 venues across the UK. This kind of access isn’t available on any other reward platforms and it’s something we’re extremely proud of.
“Being able to offer our customers 48-hour early access to the very best talent and shows around, as well as exclusive discounts across food, retail and travel to make their experiences even more unmissable are all part of Priority’s success. From the option to skip the queue to free phone charging and access to VIP O2 Bluerooms once you’re in our venues, Priority is central to the whole experience.”
How resilient is the UK live market proving to be since the return after Covid?
“We saw a record number of tickets sold through Priority in 2022 with a further 15% increase in 2023 which shows that fans of live entertainment are back in full force post-covid. Our partners and their venues have also experienced high performing ticket sales as consumers and gig-goers continue to prioritise spending their disposable income on live music and events. Nothing beats the live experience. Our Priority Tickets sales are testament to that.”
What's the outlook for Priority sales in 2024?
“Every year we set out to provide our customers with even bigger and better access to the hottest talent and events available and 2024 will be more of the same. We’re also looking to increase our reach in terms of venues this year, plus several Priority presents shows in O2 venues. 2024 has already got off to a fantastic start, the show pipeline at The O2 is as good as I’ve ever seen it and our O2 Academy venues are packed out.”
Are there further plans for the platform in 2024?
“2024 we’re refocusing our energy and leaning into what makes Priority really stand out – access. This will include VIP access to money-can’t-buy gigs and backstage meet-and-greets, early access to Priority Tickets and unique entertainment experiences across music, gaming and sport – everything our Priority members know and love. With a few surprises along the way.”