The National Consumers League (NCL), one of the US’s most established consumer champions, has joined calls for an investigation into Ticketmaster and Live Nation’s control of the nation’s live events marketplace.
Sally Greenberg, the body’s executive director, has written to the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division to add its support for the investigation of anti-competitive practices in the live event ticketing industry following a recent intervention from high-profile senators Richard Blumenthal and Amy Klobuchar.
In the letter, addressed to Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter, NCL urged the Department to conduct a thorough investigation and “if necessary, take action to ensure market health and consumer protection.”
Greenberg wrote: “The unfortunate state of the live entertainment marketplace warrants an investigation by the Department—with specific attention to LNE’s compliance with the updated consent decree. The harmful impacts of LNE’s near-monopoly are unacceptable.”
NCL said that Live Nation Entertainment controls roughly 80% of the US’s primary ticketing market, and said its acquisition of Rival in 2020 was further evidence of it seeking to eliminate competition even after its consent decree was updated in 2019.
Greenberg described “toxic market practices” by which concert attendees, sports fans, theatre patrons, and other live-event goers “must endure punishing hidden fees”, which on average account for 27% of the ticket’s original value in fees.
“Recent media reports have found fees as high as 78% of the ticket’s starting price,” Greenberg added. “This is after consumers must contend with scalpers employing illegal ticket-buying “bot” software and other unscrupulous methods in order to even secure their tickets.”
Last month, US Congressman Bill Pascrell Jr wrote to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the US Antitrust Division, to urge members to look at federal guidelines to make it easier to overturn bad mergers, using the Live Nation and Ticketmaster deal as an example.
Blumenthal and Klobuchar called on the DOJ to investigate competition in the live entertainment market, including Ticketmaster and Live Nation’s updated consent decree.