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The acquisition of UK start-up Una Tickets gives relative newcomer Sky "even more of a presence" in the live entertainment market
By Jon Chapple on 22 Sep 2016
Sky Tickets, the new entertainment and sports ticketing venture by telecommunications giant Sky UK, has completed its first major acquisition in the form of British start-up Una Tickets, IQ can reveal.
The acquisition of Una, which billed itself as “the UK’s first transparent ticket agency”, will enable Sky to provide “a full end-to-end service to greenfield sites”, says Sky Tickets director Mark Guymer, including new customer Curious Arts Festival in the New Forest.
The terms of the acquisition are confidential, but Guymer says Sky has kept on the entire Una team.
In addition to Curious Arts, Sky will serve as the exclusive ticketing partner of Ben Lovett’s new London venue, Omeara, deploying Una’s fully digital solution for both.
While Sky Tickets’ Alex Kennedy said at FastForward in February the company is trying to “get [its collective] head round the best way for us to get involved with the music world”, Guymer tells IQ the Una buy isn’t a “concerted effort to push into live music, as this is an area that has always been of interest to us. However, with its end-to-end capability it will no doubt give us even more of a presence.”
A major draw for Sky, says Guymer, was Una’s anti-ticket touting/fraud credentials. Una’s product offering comprised both a mobile ticket – which, similar to Dice, is stored in an online wallet and is unique to the buyer – and a physical ‘Una Pass’ (since renamed ‘Sky Pass’), which also serves as an RFID payment system and proof of age. The company also planned to operate a face-value ticket exchange, which has so far not been integrated into the Sky Tickets platform.
“Live music has always been of interest to us. However, with Una’s end-to-end capability it will no doubt give us a bigger presence”
“As we’ve started doing more and more in ticketing, we’ve had more concerns from customers,” explains Guymer. “They’re worried about the security of their ticket: if it’s genuine, if they’re going to be able to get in… [Una’s solution] addresses that problem.”
Guymer says Una’s mobile functionality was also attractive to Sky: “You have to consider mobile devices and what role they’ll play [in future],” he comments. “With the mass adoption of smartphones for consumer content, it’s interesting to consider what ticketing’s going to look like when it’s a fully mobile experience.” Ticketing for both Omeara and Curious Arts will be fully digital, with nary a paper ticket in sight.
While Sky Tickets was founded three years ago, the deal with Omeara is the first major music partnership for a brand hitherto known primarily for its sporting heritage. However, while Sky has a “strong history in sport”, says Guymer, the company “has [sold tickets for] entertainment events” and has “always been involved in music in some way – for example, Sky Arts’ coverage of major festivals and our sponsorship of the backstage area at The O2.”
What, then, can we in the live music world expect from Sky Tickets in future? While Alex Kennedy said “it’s not going to be with gigs at XOYO, with young hip-hop artists – it’s going to be more middle-of-the-road stuff that fits the kind of brand profile that we have”, Guymer isn’t so sure: “While we’ve always had strong coverage across certain demographics such as families, we are constantly broadening our reach: for example, the launch of Now TV, which broadens our traditional customer base.
“I think we’ll focus on the core areas of our customers, but we’ll definitely leave the door open to a complete cross-section in live music, as I believe we are increasingly seeing a complete cross-section of customers using our services.”
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