Ticketmaster is one of the world’s largest ticket sales and distribution companies. Founded in 1976, it sells tickets for concert, sports, and theater events on behalf of clients across North America, Australia and New Zealand. In 2019 alone, Ticketmaster sold 469 million tickets worth $29 billion through its website and app. However, with its huge size comes huge complaints. Ticketmaster has faced constant criticism over its exorbitant fees and controversial business practices. It holds a near-monopolistic position in ticket sales and has been accused of abusing that power. So what if, one day, Ticketmaster just disappeared? Here we’ll explore the potential impacts.
Immediate impacts on event organizers
The immediate impact would be massive disruption for sports teams, music acts and other event organizers who currently rely on Ticketmaster to sell and distribute their tickets. In 2019, Ticketmaster had contracts with over 500 major arenas and stadiums and 120 professional sports teams. Without Ticketmaster’s platform and infrastructure that connects to hundreds of box offices worldwide, these organizers would struggle to handle ticket sales on their own. Smaller venues and organizers would be especially overwhelmed trying to handle ticket distribution at scale. Table 1 summarizes the key immediate challenges they would face:
|Loss of online ticket sales infrastructure
|Websites, apps, payment processing, security and other platforms would need to be recreated from scratch
|No existing distribution network
|100s of box office endpoints would need to be reconnected; deals renegotiated with major retailers
|Loss of data/analytics
|All historical sales data and analytics would disappear; no more targeting fans or dynamic pricing
|Loss of marketing capabilities
|Email lists, social media integrations used for promotions gone
Faced with this loss of infrastructure, organizers would struggle to sell any tickets at all until replacement systems could be built. Even once new options were in place, sales would likely falter due to the lack of marketing reach and data-driven sales strategies previously handled by Ticketmaster.
Scramble for replacements
The void left by Ticketmaster’s disappearance would create a mad scramble to find replacement primary ticket sellers and distributors. Existing players like AXS and SeatGeek may see a boost, at least in the short term. However, they lack the scale and entrenched venue deals required to quickly replace a behemoth like Ticketmaster. We would likely see a frenzy of acquisitions, partnerships and platform building as companies tried to seize the opportunity.
Table 2 shows some of the most likely players who would attempt to become the “next Ticketmaster”:
|Likelihood of Winning
|Existing venue deals
|Tech capabilities and reach
|Payments network and user base
Amazon likely emerges as an instant front-runner given its enormous consumer reach, cloud hosting capabilities, and experience building robust transactional platforms. Music labels and concert promoters also have pre-existing relationships with artists that could give them an edge. Ultimately we would see 2-3 major new primary ticket sellers emerge, forced to compete for venue and team deals.
Opportunities for disruption
The near-term scramble would eventually settle into a new normal with 2-3 dominant providers instead of Ticketmaster alone. This market disruption could open several opportunities:
With Ticketmaster gone, the door is open for new technology and business model innovation in ticketing:
- Whole new mobile-first experiences
- Flexible pricing and bundling options
- More social sharing and resale integrations
New players like Amazon would bring fresh ideas and modern tech stacks to revitalize the stagnant space.
Pressure on fees
Less competition previously enabled Ticketmaster to charge extremely high fees. New rivals would place downward pressure on hated fees to compete for organizers and fans.
|Expected Future Fee
|25%+ of ticket price
|10-15% of ticket price
|Order processing fees
|$10+ per ticket
|$3-5 per ticket
Fees would need to become more reasonable to attract event organizers and fans.
With Ticketmaster’s shadowy practices gone, ongoing scrutiny would force any new dominant player to operate with greater transparency around fees, data sharing, rules, etc. Standards would emerge around ethical handling of consumer data and fair competition for event organizer deals.
In the end, while Ticketmaster’s demise would throw the event ticketing ecosystem into temporary chaos, the emerging landscape could be significantly better for stakeholders than the current status quo. Any dominant ticketing player going forward would need to innovate constantly, keep fees reasonable, and maintain high transparency in order to avoid public and government backlash. It would force positive changes for an industry overdue for disruption.