National Consumers League

Groups urge federal agency to protect consumers from deception in the live event ticketing industry

December 6, 2018

Media contact: National Consumers League – Carol McKay, carolm@nclnet.org, (412) 945-3242 or Taun Sterling, tauns@nclnet.org, (202) 207-2832

Washington, DC—The National Consumers League (NCL) and Sports Fans Coalition have filed comments with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) calling the live ticketing industry “rigged against consumers. The comments, filed in advance of the FTC’s “Online Event Ticket Workshop, describe how market consolidation since the Live Nation-Ticketmaster merger in 2010 has allowed for the proliferation of deceptive practices such as holdbacks, restricted ticket transferability and the “drip pricing” fees added at the end of the ticket-buying process. 

“Ticketmaster and Live Nation should never have received the green light to merge in 2010. Our warnings about higher ticket prices and harms to the fan experience have been realized,” said John Breyault, NCL vice president of public policy, telecommunications, and fraud. Since the merger, Ticketmaster has had free rein to gouge consumers with mandatory fees and take away consumers rights.” 

The groups’ comments noted that a majority of tickets for the most in-demand events are now held back and siphoned off by industry insiders and brokers to be sold on the secondary market at a substantial markup. The few tickets that actually make it to general on sale are often quickly scooped up by illegal ticket-buying bot software and listed on the secondary market at inflated prices. The comments also highlighted recent investigations into Ticketmaster’s apparent complacency about bot usage despite federal law that outlaws the use of such technology.  

The comments also presented data about the continuing proliferation of “white label ticket” websites, which lure consumers into secondary markets under the premise that they are buying tickets directly from the venue. The cost of tickets purchased on such sites can be significantly higher than face value. 

“Time after time we see fans suffer the most when markets become too concentrated,” said Sports Fans Coalition Executive Director Brian Hess. “The live-event ticket market is no exception. The ‘robust competition’ we were promised in 2010 has failed to materialize and as a result the fans bear the burden. The proliferation of drip pricing, holdbacks, transferability restrictions, bots, and white label sites demonstrate that a market absent of competition is one that is anti-fan.”  

The National Consumers League’s and Sports Fans Coalition's full comments to the FTC are available here.

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About the National Consumers League

The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America's pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.

About Sports Fans Coalition

Sports Fans Coalition is the nation’s leading sports fan-advocacy organization. Founded in 2009, SFC has led the fight to overturn the FCC’s Sports Blackout Rule, reform the US Soccer system, and protect consumers from league abuses. For more information, visit www.sportsfans.org.