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Market Report: Hong Kong

The annual guide to the global live entertainment ticketing business
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Suffice to say, aside from Covid-19, it’s been a turbulent few years for Hong Kong and its residents. Widespread protests and government crackdowns have made it increasingly difficult for venues and promoters trying to put on events, and it’s hard to gauge precisely where the industry stands.

That being said, concerts remain popular, and the city has “a very strong fanbase for all genres of music” according to Rafael Mendonca, director of business development at AsiaWorld-Expo Management. “Both international and local acts usually sell out arenas within the first few hours of tickets going on sale.”



With so much disruption in recent years, the live industry has seen something of a shakeup. The most important operator remains Urbtix, which is the government-run ticketing company that services all Hong Kong government venues – such as the HK Coliseum – and is managed by the LCSD (Leisure & Cultural Services Department).

The other significant operators are Hong Kong Ticketing, Ticketflap, and Cityline.

Recently, they switched ticketing service providers from Cityline to Maoyan (from China), a transition that’s due to be implemented in Q4 of 2022, even though the deadline has been delayed once before. This is the first time Urbtix has changed vendor since its inception in 1984.

The other significant operators are Hong Kong Ticketing, Ticketflap, and Cityline.

Ticketflap has recently introduced dynamic pricing (the rest of the B2C ticketing service providers don’t offer this yet), and Hong Kong Ticketing has deep ties to several new venues, most notably Kai Tak Sports Park, a major new venue featuring a 50,000-capacity stadium, 10,000-capacity arena, and a 5,000-capacity outdoor sports track (HK Ticketing’s owner, New World Development, is the lead in the consortium behind the development).

And recently, Total Ticketing deepened its relationship with the Hong Kong Rugby Union (which is responsible for the globally famous HK Rugby Sevens) and is providing them with their white-label solution.



While laws and definitions remain unclear, reselling is popular but often goes unpunished. “It’s quite common,” says Mendonca, “but it is not legal.” The issue was clouded pre- pandemic by legislation requiring an increase in the minimum percentage of tickets made available for public sale from 20% to 30%.

While laws and definitions remain unclear, reselling is popular but often goes unpunished.

But some organisers are trying to combat reselling directly. In July 2022, the company putting on a show by MIRROR, the hugely popular Hong Kong Cantopop boy group, implemented a “Real Name Authentication” rule for buying tickets.

Buyers had to register with their real, legal names, which were printed on the tickets – staff then crosschecked this name with people’s official Hong Kong ID card before entry.



The adoption of digital ticketing continues apace, particularly among younger fans and attendees, although printed tickets remain an oft-used option. “Now, ticketing is about 60% digital,” says Martin Haigh of Total Ticketing. “Five years ago that was 30%, so the trend is moving fast.”



Due to Covid and travel restrictions, the vast majority of events over the last two-and-a-half years have featured domestic acts. Unsurprisingly, Canto/J-pop/K-pop is hugely popular and influential, but international pop are also a big draw.



While Hong Kong has frequently topped lists of must-see destinations in Asia and remains a vibrant, multicultural city, its international credentials have been weakened by social unrest, government protests, and of course Covid.

Pre-2020, the number of small-scale venues rose, which contributed to an overall rise in the total volume of shows, but it remains to be seen precisely how diverse and attractive the live entertainment industry will be once all restrictions are eased and when – or even if – more stable politics returns; at the time of writing, it is estimated that over 100,000 people had permanently left Hong Kong over the past year, an exodus that looks set to continue.

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