The latest industry news to your inbox.

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities


I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

EAY 2017: GSA arenas reap benefit of strong economies

It’s boom time for arenas in Germany, Switzerland and Austria (GSA), with stable, growing economies and consumers willing to pay the highest average ticket prices in Europe meaning the region is attracting more international shows than ever before, reveals IQ’s European Arena Yearbook 2017.

“This is a healthy, strong market, offering a lot of product,” says Michael Brill of König-Pilsener Arena (12,700-cap.) in Oberhausen, Germany. “People are much more prepared to spend money on leisure than they were ten years ago, and if you have the right product, you can command very good ticket prices.”

The arenas surveyed in these three countries sold a total of 7,355,076 tickets, worth more than €380 million, in 2016 – although it’s family shows, rather than concerts, doing the bulk of the heavy lifting.

According to the 2017 Yearbook, family events make up 15% of schedules, but when they are booked appear to be the most popular among ticket buyers, drawing 23% of total attendance and average audiences of 8,059 people. This is well over the survey average for this genre (5,157), and above the overall average turnout for Germany, Austria and Switzerland (5,373).

“This is a healthy, strong market, offering a lot of product”

Music events draw the second largest average audiences in this part of Europe. Average attendance is 7,421 compared with a survey average of 7,359, and this genre makes up 32% of the total programme. It attracts 44% of attendance compared with other genres.

Sports is third (33% of programming/24% attendance), followed by comedy (6% of programming) and miscellaneous events.

The arenas sector’s rude health is being borne out in record results at Hamburg’s 16,000-cap. Barclaycard Arena, where general manager Steve Schwenkglenks says that, financially, 2016 was the best year the arena has ever had.

He comments: “2017 looks impressive, too, despite the fact we have now lost both home sports teams. We’ve filled those gaps with new content, such as esports and a major increase in concerts. This year we’ll have 22 artists who’ve never played the arena before.”


Read the full feature in the digital edition of the European Arena Yearbook 2017:

EAY 2017: France, Benelux sales rebound after difficult start

Venues in France and the Benelux countries are turning a corner after a difficult start to 2016, when the terrorist attacks in Paris and Belgium hurt the usually booming arenas business.

That’s according to IQ’s European Arena Yearbook 2017, which reveals that the industry is now bouncing back from a challenging start to the year – when ticket and hospitality sales both suffered amid considerable consumer nervousness – with results for the latter half of 2016 and the first half of 2017 expected to largely exceed previous years.

The arenas surveyed, which include the leading venues in France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, hosted 425 events in 2016, selling just under 3.7m tickets.

Unlike in central and eastern Europe, where sport is strongest, music dominates the programmes of French and Benelux arenas, responsible for 2.1m tickets in 2016 – 56% of total sales and making up 47% of total events hosted.

“The current season is seeing a real revival in ticket sales. We believe it could be a reaction to the effects of the attacks”

There was an average of 71 performances per venue.

Come the end of the current season (to August 2017), director-general Julien Collette says AccorHotels Arena (20,000-cap.) in Paris will have increased its ticket sales to 1.5m, up from 1.1m in 2015–16 – while the outlook is similarly positive in Belgium, where the Sportpaleis Group, which operates Sportpaleis (23,000-cap.), Lotto Arena (8,050-cap.), Forest National (8,000-cap.) and Ethias Arena (18,000-cap.), similarly reporting strong growth.

“Last season, we suffered as a result of the terrorist attacks,” says Sportpaleis’s Jan Van Esbroeck. “However, the current season is seeing a real revival in ticket sales. We believe it could be some kind of reaction to the effects of the attacks. We are set to have a better-than-average season by the end of the year.”

In Luxembourg, meanwhile, Rockhal (6,500-cap.) had its best year to date, says CEO Olivier Toth.


Read the full feature in the digital edition of the European Arena Yearbook 2017:

EAY 2017: CEE arenas shrug off post-crash gloom

A majority of central and eastern European (CEE) arenas reported strong growth in 2016, boosted by growing demand and increased consumer confidence, IQ’s European Arena Yearbook 2017 reveals.

Almost all the arenas surveyed in eight CEE countries – Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Serbia – recorded positive results last year, with some even recording their most successful year to date, as they shrugged off the last remnants of the global financial crisis, which hit central and eastern Europe particularly hard.

While GDP is still not as high as in western Europe, demand is strong, consumer confidence has returned to the market and average audience figures are higher than some of the more affluent nations: the arenas surveyed sold 4,368,253 tickets to 882 events, generating €130.5 million.

Sport dominates the calendars at arenas across the region, accounting for 56% of programmes. Music makes up 26%, while family shows and miscellaneous events make-up 9% and 6%, respectively. Only 11 comedy shows took place in these arenas last year, an average of one per arena.

The largest attraction for people is clearly music events, which draw the highest average attendance: 7,761 (survey average attendance: 4,953).

“They used to regard it as very important to be seen as having significant and cool cultural festivals, but that’s changing”

‘Miscellaneous events’ are the next biggest draw, pulling an average crowd of 6,946 to corporate events and exhibitions.
Family and sports events attract average audiences of 4,300 (survey average: 5,157) and 3,610 (4,662) each.

Promoter Nick Hobbs, who books acts at all levels across central and eastern Europe, the Balkans and Turkey, says there’s starting to be a trend of people moving away from festivals and towards arena shows. “The festival market doesn’t seem to be doing as well as it was, but arenas are doing better,” he says. “That’s because sponsorship – which is essential for festivals, but not usually part of the P&L [profit and loss] of an arena show – is struggling, as companies shift their focus away from music.

“In some countries, such as Poland, municipalities are shifting their marketing spend away from cultural events due to the political climate. They used to regard it as very important to be seen as having significant and cool cultural festivals, but that’s changing due to a much more culturally conservative government.”

With the economic situation in many countries improving, arenas are seeing steady growth.


Read the full feature in the digital edition of the European Arena Yearbook 2017:

Special report: Spotlight on arena security

Music arenas have long been prepared for the possibility of a terrorist attack, but it was the tragic events of 22 May – when UK-born Salman Abedi detonated a homemade bomb outside the 21,000-capacity Manchester Arena following an Ariana Grande concert, killing 22 people, many of them children, and injuring over 200 more – that confirmed the worst fears about the stark realities now facing venue owners and operators.

“It happened in Manchester, but we all consider ourselves equally at risk,” says Neil Walker, general manager of the SSE Arena, Belfast. “Security and the health and safety of everyone who comes to our building has always been the number-one priority in everything we do, from making sure a production is rolled in safely, to making sure the public are well looked after when they’re here,” he adds, “but it’s been elevated to an even higher focus now.”

“What happened in Manchester brought it brutally home to everyone in the industry that this can happen anywhere,” agrees Reg Walker, director of Iridium Consultancy, which works with a number of UK venues and festivals on security matters. He says that the attack reinforced the need for a “seamless security operation and security in depth” both inside and outside concert arenas, extending to transport hubs servicing venues. “We can’t be complacent over this,” he warns. “The problem with a Manchester-style atrocity is that you see adequate resourcing in the immediate aftermath, but then what happens is the bean-counters kick in and start applying pressure to curtail costs. That is something that must be resisted by venue operators at this time.”

Upping the anti
Thankfully, the general consensus throughout the industry is in favour of enhanced safety provisions, with the majority of European arenas already at a heightened level of security following 2015’s Bataclan and Paris terror attacks. “For 18 months now, everyone who wants to enter the arena is checked twice: first time outside the arena with a preliminary security screening, and a second time at each entrance of the building with a full body search,” explains Julien Collette, general manager of AccorHotels Arena in Paris.

“The problem is that you see adequate resourcing in the immediate aftermath, but then the bean-counters kick in and start applying pressure to curtail costs”

Other protocols introduced at AccorHotels Arena since 2015 include permanent guarding of the venue and its surroundings by specialised firms, and security screening of all external personnel (production teams and service providers) with bag checks and body searches by qualified agents. In addition, on show days, Rue de Bercy, opposite the venue’s main entrance, is closed to road traffic, while armed police and dog handlers regularly patrol the perimeter.

Exact details vary, but the story is the same at many venues throughout Europe, where strict security procedures have fast become the norm. “What we have sometimes been criticised for in the past has now become our advantage,” says Stanislava Doubravová, head of sales and events at Prague’s O2 Arena, which has had airport-style X-ray baggage scanners and security gates since opening in 2004. Those measures “are now highly appreciated by event promoters,” she says.

“In the last few years, we’ve invested a lot of money and time in our security and safety measures,” agrees Barclaycard Arena Hamburg’s general manager, Steve Schwenkglenks. He points to the installation of walk-through metal detectors, coupled with physical pat-downs of audience members, as just one aspect of the venue’s upgraded security detail. “At first, we were a little worried about the public reaction to these stringent measures,” he says. “Now it’s not even a discussion.”

“At first, we were a little worried about the public reaction to these stringent measures. Now it’s not even a discussion”

At London’s The O2, permanent search arches were installed at the main entrances late last year, while anyone revisiting the venue over the past ten months will have noticed a “very much enhanced security posture,” says the venue’s head of security, Richard Latham, who was brought in to strengthen the venue’s already considerable operations in 2016, having previously been director of security at the House of Commons (which forms part of the UK’s Houses of Parliament).

“Some of our measures are visible and others are not so obvious,” states Latham, citing an increase in both overt and covert security staff inside and outside the venue, coupled with extra police patrols, including, “when appropriate”, an armed presence. The use of search dogs “for varying roles” provides another highly visible deterrent. Following the Manchester bomb attack, The O2 was also one of many European arenas to ban people from bringing rucksacks and large bags inside the venue, with all visitors to the site having to go through airport-style security and baggage scanners before gaining entry to the concourse, where they can utilise a bag-drop facility.

“The industry has changed from one where no one got searched at all, to one where it was mostly theatrical deterrent searching, to now – at least at The O2 – proper, audited counterterrorism searching,” says Latham. He believes that response helps elevate the live music industry above many other sectors in tackling the increased threat of terrorism.


Read the rest of this feature in the digital edition of IQ’s definitive guide to the European arena market, the European Arena Yearbook 2017:

Arena tech: The groundbreakers

The global live music business is in a state of technological flux, with innovations such as virtual and augmented reality, live streaming, blockchain and bots all being touted as potential new sources of revenue for an increasingly mature industry.

But while the monetisation of live-streamed concerts is, by most estimates, still some way off, a handful of pioneers in the arena space are already delivering concrete results through clever tech to some of the world’s leading entertainment venues.

Meet DigifoodArchaioRukkus, VertedaClair GlobalLiveStyledCastBottoms UpKontakt.ioYondr and Hurdl: eleven innovators working behind the scenes to make large entertainment venues smarter, more connected and more profitable than ever before…


Read the rest of this feature in the digital edition of IQ’s definitive guide to the European arena market, the European Arena Yearbook 2017: