Ticketmaster accused of working with scalpers to increase profits

Lula Sharp
September 20, 2018

A CBC journalist also obtained access to an online video conference demonstration of the TradeDesk platform back in March.

The audience heard that Ticketmaster has developed a professional reseller program and within the past year launched TradeDesk, a web-based inventory management system for scalpers.

TradeDesk also allegedly allows resellers to bypass the six to eight ticket limit Ticketmaster imposes to ostensibly deter scalpers by turning a blind eye when resellers use bots to sweep up large quantities of tickets.

Investigative journalists posing as scalpers were sent to a live entertainment conference at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in July, where representatives from Ticketmaster's resales division told them about the professional reseller program.

In January, Live Nation settled a lawsuit centered on allegations by a live-music ticketing company that Ticketmaster had engaged in anti-competitive behavior and committed antitrust violations. The handbook outlines a reward system for scalpers.

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However, the company has written to one of the accusing outlets CBC News, saying "that as the world's leading ticketing platform, representing thousands of teams, artists and venues, we believe it is our job to offer a marketplace that provides a safe and fair place for fans to shop, buy and sell tickets in both the primary and secondary markets". For example, the CBC writes, "As scalpers hit milestones such as $500,000 or $1 million in annual sales, Ticketmaster will knock a percentage point off its fees".

Casey Klein, Ticketmaster Resale director, held a session that was closed to the media called "We appreciate your partnership: More brokers are listing with Ticketmaster than ever before". The company touts it as "The most powerful ticket sales tool". In a statement, the company's Catherine Martin didn't answer specific questions and instead defended the basic concept of ticket resales.

The resale program and TradeDesk appear closely guarded by Ticketmaster.

Allegations about Ticketmaster working with scalpers emerged following a 2017 lawsuit the company filed, which claims three ticket brokering companies used bots to "improperly procure tickets for the goal of reselling them at a substantial profit". According to reporting earlier this year from The New York Times, the Justice Department is in the process of reviewing complaints that the concert giant "has used its control over concert tours to pressure venues into contracting with its subsidiary, Ticketmaster".

Ticketmaster can then make money off fees from the initial ticket sale and the resold scalped ticket. For Ticketmaster, this market is "particularly lucrative", CBC reported. "The last thing we'd want to do is get brokers caught up to where they can't sell inventory with us", he said.

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