Ticketmaster…

January saw TM roll out Verified Fan in the UK, but two months later it was slated for redirecting fans to its resale platforms. March saw Ticketmaster’s Presence proximity-based system experience “zero instances of fraud.” In May, Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan technology went live in Australia. June saw the NFL announce it was on track to becoming fully digital for the 2018-19 season, through its partnership with Ticketmaster and the rollout of Presence. In the same month Foo Fighters fans were left fuming after barcodes failed to scan.

In June, up to 40,000 UK Ticketmaster customers had their data hacked, which the firm was reportedly aware of since April. In August, TM was criticised for its ‘Platinum’ tickets, and in the same month announced it would close its resale platforms. A month later the TM Universe DIY ticketing platform launched in the Netherlands.

In September, TM employees were filmed claiming it “turns a blind eye” to touts, causing uproar in the industry and amongst the general public. In October, TM bought blockchain platform Upgraded. The firm finalised the closure of Get Me In! and Seatwave in December.

Resale

The UK announced new legislation, but FFA said it did not go far enough. In March, the ASA cracked down on resale fees, while a month later the UK unveiled legislation to require unique ticket numbers on tickets. April also saw StubHub, GET ME IN! and Seatwave offer formal commitments to overhaul their business, while Viagogo continued to be non-compliant.

May saw the beginning of the battle between Ed Sheeran’s promoter Kilimanjaro Live and the resale market, primarily Viagogo. (see below)

In July, the UK government’s new legislation banned bots with unlimited fines in place. Pressure mounted on the secondary market in the UK and Ireland implemented similar laws. August saw Ticketmaster shut down its resale sites Seatwave and GetMeIn!, launching its own exchange. Later that month, the CMA took Viagogo to court, citing consumer protection laws.

In September, Viagogo sued Ed Sheeran’s promoter for alleged fraud, although Kili Live denied the allegations. The firm was a no-show in UK parliament again, citing Kili legal action as the reason. The month also saw FFA publish an open letter to Google, urging action against Viagogo. The FA, Lawn Tennis Association, UK Music and many more supported it. September was also the month that TM was accused of colluding with scalpers in an undercover expose broadcast on Canadian television.

In October, the US stepped up its call for a probe into possible “corruption” at TM and its link to touts. One month later, Western Australian introduced restricted resale laws and Viagogo agreed to “overhaul the way it does business.”

December saw Japan ban ticket scalping ahead of the country’s two years of major sporting events. Also, Viagogo challenged France’s anti-secondary ticketing law, which was rejected by the Constitutional Council. The company then announced it would consider taking the French resale ban to the European courts.

Viagogo

In January, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee once again invited Viagogo and other resale firms to give evidence on the market. Viagogo was then banned from selling FIFA World Cup tickets. March saw the ASA ban four of the UK’s main ticketing resale sites from using “misleading” pricing information. In April, the UK watchdog threatened Viagogo with court action after non-compliance. The same month saw the controversial resale firm handed a €1m fine by Italy’s antitrust body. May saw Ed Sheeran take a hard stance against Viagogo, while the firm continued non-compliance with National Trading Standards.

June was littered with bad press for Viagogo. The firm still failed to comply with transparency regulations, FIFA filed a criminal complaint in the run up to the World Cup and Victims of Viagogo reported customer refunds were being blocked. In the same month, UK MPS called for Google to ‘cut ties’ with Viagogo, while Irish politicians were urged to ‘be brave’ and pass an anti-touting bill, despite Viagogo having offices in Limerick.

In August, Viagogo was taken to court in New Zealand, while Sheeran stepped up his fight against touts and primarily Viagogo. Later in the same month, the UK’s CMA took Viagogo to court. September saw a brief moment of light in Viagogo’s whirlwind as the ASA dropped its complaint against the firm after securing pricing changes. Again in September, Viagogo moved to sue Sheeran’s promoter for alleged fraud, though Kili Live denied the allegations. Viagogo snubbed UK parliament again, citing Kili legal action as the reason. The month also saw Google pressed to reject Viagogo advertising, while Sheeran again warned fans their Viagogo tix would be turned away.

October saw the ASA back Viagogo with regards to the Google ad complaint, while the resale firm called its aggrieved customers ‘exceptionally careless’ in Australian court. One month later Viagogo agreed to “overhaul the way it does business” following a UK court order, which may cost the firm millions.

December saw Viagogo challenge France’s anti-secondary ticketing law, which was rejected by the Constitutional Council. The company then announced it would consider taking the French resale ban to the European courts.

Integration

August saw Samsung Galaxy Home smart speaker users granted the ability to book through Ticketmaster.

In October, London Theatre Direct began offering its fans the option to purchase tickets through Amazon Alexa, the first theatre ticket retailer to use the technology. Then in December, Alexa integrated with social movie ticketing platform Atom Tickets.

Acquisitions

After concluding a long-running legal battle in January, Live Nation bought Songkick’s assets, and the latter signed a deal with French ticketing giant Fnac. April saw See Tickets acquire Paylogic from LiveStyle, and Paytm purchased TicketNew from Alibaba.

In August, CTS Eventim acquired all remaining shares in Venuepoint, while Patron Technology bought experiential marketing technology company Thuzi.

October saw the acquisition of the NEC Group, which owns The Ticket Factory, by Blackstone, and Ticketmaster got involved in blockchain technology after purchasing Upgraded. In the same month, Eventim took full control of German firm Kinoheld, which specialises in online ticketing for cinemas, while it also agreed a partnership with blockchain-based live music marketplace Viberate.

Customer Complaints

The ticket pricing battle for UEFA competitions kicked off in January between Sevilla and Manchester United, with English fans forced to pay up £133 for an away ticket. In March, FIFA apologised after angry fans waited hours to access World Cup tickets. Liverpool FC’s ticket platform crashed in July during a priority sale for club members, while August saw major issues with Ticketek’s ability to handle high demand for AFL tickets.

Take That apologised in September after fans trying to pre-order tickets for their 2019 greatest hits tour faced issues with redeeming codes. While MoviePass and its unlimited cinema subscription saw major growth in January, it all started to go wrong for the firm in April when it began restricting its members. In July, the firm then introduced surge pricing, much to its subscribers dismay. Things only got worse for MoviePass after it removed major films from its listings and began offering a choice of two films per month. After all that, in August the firm then began re-subscribing cancelled customers accounts without their consent.

Tickets & Tourism

February saw Expedia.com launch its Event Tickets feature, while TicketCity partnered with Booking.com in March.

Airbnb for Events was launched in April, with the company joining forces with ticketing firm Insider.in in India in May.

In October, Groupon expanded its live entertainment portfolio with Ingresso. The same month saw SecuTix link up with TripAdvisor-Viator, and Sports Events 365 added a new site in China.

November witnessed the launch of Ryanair Tickets with the budget airline introducing its sports ticketing service in December.

Promotions…

January saw Matt Hancock named as the UK’s new Culture Secretary, while Live Nation secured the long-term future of its top executives Michael Rapino, Joe Berchtold, Michael Rowles and Kathy Willard.

In February, Eventbrite appointed Andrew Dreskin to its board of directors, while Accesso named Royce Paul Noland Jr CEO. March saw TicketGuardian appoint Casey Callinsky as president and Tappit name Jason Thomas CEO.

StubHub announced Sukhinder Singh Cassidy as president in April and BookMyShow appointed Albert Almeida COO in May. June saw Ticketmaster Italy name Daniel Bei as its new managing director, in the same month that NBA legend Dennis Rodman joined AnyTicket.com.

In September, Festicket named former Live Nation executive Lauren Pye as president – its first North American hire. Eventim UK appointed Daniel Brown as chief executive in October, while Vivid Seats named Stan Chia CEO. November brought a reshuffle of senior management at AEG’s European division and former StubHub executive Matt Swann was named Booking.com CTO.

Tech Innovation…

In January, Alibaba committed to trial facial recognition technology at the winter Olympics, with Pyeongchang marked as the most technology-intensive Olympics ever. February saw SecuTix employ address validation technology to speed up the time it takes for ticket-buyers to fill in online forms.

March saw Ticketmaster’s Presence proximity-based system experience “zero instances of fraud,” with RFID technology being introduced as part of 2018 FIFA World Cup ticketing in April. TM Presence invested in facial recognition firm Blink Identity in May, while Activity Stream received recognition for the development of its Artificial Intelligence software for stadiums, theatres and concert venues in September.

In October, Visa revealed its tech innovations for the Olympic and Paralympic games, while blockchain remained in the ticketing sphere.

Biometrics…

TM Presence invested in facial recognition firm Blink Identity in May, and Liverpool struck a deal with IdentoGO by Idemia. June saw an undisclosed London stadium deploy facial recognition software to allow for ticketless entry via a partnership with AnyVision. In the same month, Clear partnered with Major League Soccer teams Los Angeles FC and the San Jose Earthquakes. In July, Major League Baseball introduced biometric ticketing technology through a partnership with Clear.

Sports Ticketing… 

January saw the launch of the One Card contactless season ticket card and London Football Exchange (LFE), a tokenised football stock exchange, launched a cryptocurrency with the aim of giving supporters greater power over ticketing. In February, college sports saw major uptake of mobile ticketing, and Fan Manager launched its AI-powered Fan Search segmentation platform for sports.

A Ticketmaster deal helped all NFL teams go digital and BlocSide Sports became the first firm to trial the Aventus Protocol in May. Keyper claimed to solve the problem of unused seats at sporting events in June and July saw TickPick add seat view function.

In August, FlipTix launched an app that enables tickets or “unused time” to be resold during sports or entertainment events. October saw the San Antonio Spurs launch a mobile subscription-based ticketing model that allows fans entry to every game for a monthly fee. In November, TM signed a deal with Fanatics to integrate official verified tickets and licensed merchandise in the fan shopping experience of both sites in the US.

Image: ktphotography