Viagogo’s $4.05bn acquisition of StubHub has been slammed as “outrageous” by opponents of the secondary ticketing market.
The mega deal, which has stunned the live entertainment industry, was announced by Viagogo and eBay on Monday. The two parties said it is likely to close by the end of the first quarter of 2020, subject to regulatory approval.
Both Viagogo and StubHub have attracted the focus of regulators in recent years, with the former in particular having been criticised and sanctioned by watchdogs in the UK and other jurisdictions.
The possibility of the two operators coming together to form a secondary ticketing behemoth has raised acute concerns for those who have campaigned against the sector in recent years.
Sharon Hodgson, the chair of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse, took to Twitter on Monday afternoon to express her fears for consumers.
This is totally outrageous. Viagogo should be shutting up shop, not expanding even further. Paying $4.05 billion in cash will truly sting for those who have been ripped off by Viagogo and waiting for a refund! @FanFairAlliance @clairelouisetur #PutFansFirst https://t.co/OW3DmadPLT
— Sharon Hodgson? (@SharonHodgsonMP) November 25, 2019
Claire Turnham, who set up the Victim of Viagogo campaign group, said regulators should protect consumers by not allowing the deal to proceed.
“Ticket Abuse is rampant. For years fans have been exploited and ripped off by Viagogo,” she told TheTicketingBusiness.
“Given the news they now plan to dominate the market by buying Stubhub we urge the regulators to stop this deal dead in its tracks before they are allowed to cause even more misery and mayhem.
“The reality is this will never be a win-win for fans. In stark contrast, by buying Stubhub and dominating the market, Viagogo will be driven to maximise industrial scale profits and exploit fans even more.
“It’s fans who will end up paying the off-the-scale costs of buying Stubhub. Viagogo’s desire to dominate the market will likely only lead to more exploitation, rip offs and misery. Our consistent advice is to only buy tickets from sites which are ethical and authorised.”
While some see the acquisition as evidence of Viagogo’s aggressive strategy, others suggest it is a defensive play.
“This feels like a desperate move from both parties,” Adam Webb, of Fanfair Alliance, told TheTicketingBusiness. “However, news of this acquisition should be a major concern for both audiences and music businesses – especially if Viagogo, a company that recently had a court order hanging over its head uses this process as an attempt to detoxify its brand.
“FanFair will be writing to UK regulators and politicians, and we reiterate our advice to music fans to avoid these sites.”
The UK’s competition regulator suspended preparations for court action against Viagogo earlier this year after the company finally made its ticketing information transparent to customers. The CMA ruled that Viagogo had finally addressed its outstanding concerns about how it presents important information to its customers, claiming it is “worlds apart from the one they faced before the CMA took action.”