SeatGeek was allegedly dropped by Barclays Center and owner BSE Global because of issues with its tech, according to a report from Billboard.
Dave Brooks reported that Barclays Center and BSE Global chief executive Sam Zussman arranged a meeting with SeatGeek and offered an ultimatum – terminate the seven-year contract signed with Zussman’s predecessor John Abbamondi, or Zussman would reveal SeatGeek’s tech failures as they happened, according to multiple sources.
Concerts at the venue will now be ticketed by Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster.
In a statement, a SeatGeek spokesperson told Billboard: “The Barclays Center team met with our execs to figure out a way to amend the contract which would offer us the ability to continue ticketing the teams, but not third party events. Several months later we offered Barclays the opportunity to simply end the agreement, in consultation with our other clients, on good terms.”
Barclays Center confirmed that BSE Global and SeatGeek’s partnership would ‘wind down’ beginning with the New York Liberty’s 2023 season in May.
Brooks’ report outlined a previous incident in which booking agents Jared Arfa and Marsha Vlasic at Artist Group International, whose agency represents indie band The Strokes, said that SeatGeek mishandled a pre-sale in October 2021 which cost the group several hundred thousand dollars. The concert, which was set to take place in December 2021, was eventually postponed until April 2022 because of the onset of the Omicron COVID-19 variant.
The show sold 2,000 less tickets and made $400,000 (£324,000/€369,000) less than the band’s New Year’s Eve show at Barclays Center, and Arfa and Vlasic blame SeatGeek’s user interface according to the Billboard report.
Other sources told the news outlet that promoters S2BN booked and then cancelled a Genesis 2022 tour date at Barclays Center due to issues with SeatGeek. The show suffered from technical issues after going on sale and did not come close to sales goals.
SeatGeek told Billboard in a statement: “Being the fastest growing tech company and a newer entrant to the primary ticketing space, SeatGeek is unencumbered by legacy technology, historical relationships, and outdated biases, allowing us to invest where the most impact can be felt.
“In the last 12 months, we’ve bolstered our entertainment team with key hires and have completely revamped our entertainment product offering, including making a number of fan-friendly strides in how we handle onsales, from utilizing state-of-the-art 3D view-from-seat imagery to providing ‘similar seat’ recommendations when multiple customers are vying for the same inventory.”
The deal signed with SeatGeek in 2021 by Abbamondi came with a $10m signing package that included cash, savings on the fees SeatGeek charged and a sponsorship deal, according to sources cited by Brooks.
It was a significant deal for SeatGeek as it manoeuvres from secondary ticketing into the primary, direct-to-consumer business.
Ticketmaster now tickets all four of New York’s major venues, following the opening of the UBS Arena in late 2021 and the switch at Barclays Center. The move back to Ticketmaster will most likely be examined by the Department of Justice according to the report, as part of a consent decree dating back to Live Nation’s merger with Ticketmaster in 2010.
One area that will be examined could possibly be the drop in the number of Live Nation concerts at Barclays Center in 2022 compared to 2019. If the drop in Live Nation content is linked to the venue moving away from Ticketmaster, this could be a violation of the consent decree.
Live Nation and Ticketmaster have been at the centre of news this week following a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, DC. Live Nation chief financial officer Joe Berchtold was placed in the line of fire, with rival operator SeatGeek claiming that venues are worried about losing Live Nation concerts if they do not use Ticketmaster as a ticketing partner. SeatGeek CEO Jack Groetzinger said that this was just one of three clear points in the industry and that the merger should be broken up to allow competition to flourish.