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Live Nation posts record operating income in Q3

Ticketing operating income up 20%, sponsorship and partnerships up 18%: a record third quarter for Live Nation

By Anna Grace on 01 Nov 2019

Live Nation Q3 results: revenue drop, record AOI

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino

image © Live Nation Entertainment

Live Nation has recorded its highest-ever quarterly operating income in Q3 2019, clocking in at US$260 million, as the company looks to close the year with record revenue and over 100 million tickets sold.

The live entertainment giant surpassed last year’s record Q3, growing both operating income and AOI (adjusted operating income) from the third quarter of 2018 by 11%, from $234m to $260m and $387m to $427m respectively.

Revenue for the quarter fell short of analysts’ expectations, dipping 2% from Q3 2018 to $3.8 billion. In last night’s (Thursday 31 October) earnings call, chief financial officer Kathy Willard put the revenue decline down to “a foreign exchange negative impact”, which primarily affected the concerts revenue, down 4% from the same period last year.

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino notes that international concert business has been “particularly robust”, contributing to much fan growth. So far this year, 73m fans have attended over 26,000 Live Nation shows, delivering a year-to-date AOI of $333m for the concert division, a 17% increase on 2018.

International markets have also driven the majority of Live Nation’s sponsorship and advertising growth this quarter, with a special mention given to the recently wholly acquired Rock in Rio festival, which drove sponsorship revenue up 26% over its first weekend in September, and the expansion of the Lollapalooza festival brand.

“As we continue building our expertise on on-site execution, we are finding more opportunities to build new venues or takeover operations of existing venues”

Festivals, say Rapino, are “our most profitable businesses” and remain “the ultimate fan experience”.

Venues appear to be a particular point of expansion for Live Nation this year, with a further 36 venues added to its portfolio, including Belgium’s 23,000-capacity Sportpaleis Arena. A focus on fan experience in Live Nation venues, comments Rapino, has driven up the average spend per customer by $2.50, to $29.

“As we continue building our expertise on on-site execution, we are finding more opportunities to build new venues or takeover operations of existing venues,” says Rapino.

Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster also recorded its highest AOI quarter ever, up 20% from last year and a 6% growth year-to-date. According to Rapino, this growth is facilitating the roll-out of digital ticketing, which is expected to be in place at over 700 venues and used by over 60% of fans by the year end.

The number of dynamically priced Platinum tickets sold per show has risen by 54% this year, with Rapino noting the company has been “more effective” in pricing tickets closer to the market value.

“We are confident in the success of our Concert flywheel for 2019,” concludes Rapino. “We will promote more shows, reach more fans, price more effectively and provide a better fan experience at our venues, which will then drive double-digit AOI growth for the business year.”


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