This is a common question that comes up when discussing the major players in the ticket resale industry. Ticketmaster and StubHub are two of the biggest names in ticketing, but do they actually have an ownership relationship? The short answer is no – Ticketmaster does not own StubHub. However, the history and business dynamics between the two companies is more nuanced than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’
The Basics of Ticketmaster and StubHub
Ticketmaster is a ticket sales and distribution company based in Beverly Hills, California. It sells tickets for events on behalf of event organizers and venues. Ticketmaster dominates the primary ticket sales market, with an estimated 80% market share of major entertainment event tickets sold in the US. The company was founded in 1976 and has grown substantially over the past four decades.
StubHub is a ticket exchange and resale marketplace based in San Francisco, California. Unlike Ticketmaster, StubHub does not sell primary tickets directly from events or venues. Instead, it provides a platform for ticket resellers and buyers to trade tickets on a secondary market. Founded in 2000, StubHub pioneered the online ticket resale space and is now one of the largest secondary ticket marketplaces in the world.
The Relationship Between Ticketmaster and StubHub
Given Ticketmaster’s primacy in primary ticket sales and StubHub’s dominance in secondary ticket resales, there is naturally some interaction between the two companies. However, Ticketmaster does not have any direct ownership stake in StubHub.
In 2007, Ticketmaster did make a bid to acquire StubHub, reportedly offering as much as $350 million. However, StubHub rejected the offer to preserve its independence. Had the deal gone through, it would have essentially merged the primary and secondary ticket markets under the Ticketmaster banner.
Despite not being an owner, Ticketmaster has established some partnerships and business relationships with StubHub over the years. For example:
- In 2009, Ticketmaster launched a service to allow season ticket holders for sports teams and venues to resell tickets online. This involved an arrangement for StubHub to handle the back-end infrastructure and reseller verification for the platform.
- Around 2010, Ticketmaster integrated StubHub resale listings on Ticketmaster.com to provide more ticket options for visitors. However, this partnership ended after a few years due to shifts in the two companies’ business strategies.
- Ticketmaster opted to build out its own secondary ticket resale capabilities under the Ticketmaster Resale brand rather than directing traffic to StubHub.
Other Major Ownership Changes
Although Ticketmaster has never acquired StubHub, both companies have undergone other major ownership changes since their early days:
Ticketmaster Ownership History
- 1997 – Ticketmaster merged with CitySearch, a city guide portal company.
- 1998 – CitySearch/Ticketmaster merged with online travel company Preview Travel to form a new entity called Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch (TMCS).
- 2000 – USA Networks, Inc. acquired TMCS and operated Ticketmaster as a wholly owned subsidiary.
- 2008 – Ticketmaster merged with Live Nation, the world’s largest concert promoter, to form Live Nation Entertainment.
- 2010 – Barry Diller’s IAC acquired controlling interest in Live Nation Entertainment.
- 2013 – Live Nation Entertainment became an independent publicly traded company no longer majority-owned by IAC.
StubHub Ownership History
- 2007 – Online auction company eBay acquired StubHub for $310 million.
- 2015 – eBay enabled StubHub to begin selling primary tickets alongside resale inventory.
- 2020 – Viagogo, a Ticketmaster competitor, acquired StubHub from eBay for $4.05 billion.
The Future of Ticketmaster and StubHub
While StubHub and Ticketmaster have never had a direct ownership link, some industry watchers have still raised antitrust concerns over Ticketmaster’s dominance in primary ticket sales and the lack of consumer choice in ticketing platforms. Calls for the legal separation of Ticketmaster and Live Nation have increased in recent years.
The FTC ordered Ticketmaster to license its software to a competitor as a condition of its 2010 merger with Live Nation, but AEG chose not to renew its licensing agreement in 2019. This means Ticketmaster once again has no significant head-to-head competitor in primary ticket sales.
Meanwhile, StubHub is adapting to challenges under new owner Viagogo, including marketplace changes, government regulation of ticket resales, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on live events. Rumors emerged in 2021 that StubHub may be exploring a sale or going public via a SPAC merger.
While Ticketmaster retains its stronghold over primary ticketing, StubHub faces increasing competition in secondary sales from Ticketmaster Resale, Vivid Seats, SeatGeek and other players. The two companies also continue to pursue differentiated business models, with Ticketmaster focused on primary sales and StubHub catering to ticket resales.
Despite some past partnerships and a prospective acquisition attempt, Ticketmaster does not currently own StubHub. The two companies operate the largest primary and secondary ticket marketplaces, but as separate entities with different owners. Speculation over consolidation in the ticketing industry persists, but for now, fans can rely on both Ticketmaster and StubHub as major options for ticket sales and resales.