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Ticketmaster signs Evenko parent Groupe CH

Ticketmaster has announced an exclusive ticketing partnership with Montreal-based Groupe CH, one of the largest entertainment and sports businesses in North America.

Live Nation-owned Ticketmaster will serve as the official primary and resale ticketing partner for the Montreal Canadiens, a leading ice-hockey team; Montreal’s 21,288-seat Bell Centre; the 10,000-seat Place Bell in Laval, Quebec; MTelus, a 2,300-cap. performing-arts venue in Montreal; and the Corona Theatre (753-cap.), also in Montreal, as well as several high-profile festivals, including Osheaga, Heavy Montreal and Ile Soniq.

All Groupe CH’s teams, venues and festivals will use Ticketmaster’s Presence platform to offer fans mobile tickets and a personalised event experience, including venue ingress and in-venue offerings.

“Groupe CH has experienced tremendous growth over recent years, and we’re excited to partner with a global leader like Ticketmaster who will not only provide the technology and scale to power the ticketing of our teams, venues and events, but also help us amplify our digital marketing capabilities,” says France Margaret Bélanger, the Montreal Canadiens’ EVP of commercial and corporate affairs.

“We know that Ticketmaster’s scale, coupled with our state-of-the-art products and services, will support Groupe CH’s phenomenal number of events”

“Ticketmaster’s digital entry experience will be of particular interest to our fans based on its success in dramatically reducing fraudulent tickets while also delivering creative fan engagement opportunities.”

Groupe CH’s concert promotion arm, Evenko, was the 16th largest promoter in the world – and the biggest in Canada – in 2018, selling nearly 1.3 million tickets, according to Pollstar.

“We could not be more excited to expand our partnership with Groupe CH, a global leader in sports and entertainment, and to deliver the best experience possible to their millions of fans,” comments Patti-Anne Tarlton, chairman of Ticketmaster Canada. “We know that Ticketmaster’s scale, coupled with our state-of-the-art products and services, will support Groupe CH’s phenomenal number of events while providing fans with a seamless ticketing experience. We’re looking forward to working together as we enter this new era of ticketing.”

Ticketmaster employs over 600 people in Canada, including a 240-strong workforce in its Montreal and Quebec City offices.

 


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Hawaii takes aim at exclusive ticketing contracts

A bill that would prevent venues that receive public funding from partnering exclusively with one ticket agency has been introduced in Hawaii.

SB 1534 – tabled on 24 January by Hawaii Senate president Ron Kouchi, and referred to the Senate’s Commerce, Consumer Protection and Health (CPH) Committee on 28 January after passing its first reading – would prohibit any “place of entertainment that is funded through public donations, state or county funds” from “entering into exclusive ticketing contracts with primary sellers”.

The prohibition would affect all of Hawaii’s major venues, including the 8,800-capacity Blaisdell Arena, owned by the city of Honolulu (and exclusively ticketed by Ticketmaster), the 10,300-seat Stan Sheriff Center, owned by the University of Hawaii and utilising the university’s own eTicketHawaii portal; and Aloha Stadium (50,000-cap.), another Ticketmaster partner, run by the publicly owned Hawaii Stadium Authority.

SB 1534 would also require venues to report how many tickets will be put on sale for any given event, as well as any details on holdbacks – similar to proposed legislation in Ontario, Canada, later abandoned amid opposition from the live industry.

SB 1534 would also require venues to require how many tickets will be put on sale for any given event

If passed, the legislation would “mean more artists appearing at venues, a larger diversity of events, and more local jobs and revenue for Hawaiian residents,” Scot X. Esdaile, president of ticket resellers’ association the US Minority Ticketing Group, tells Ticket News.

Unlike in Europe and elsewhere, where the open ticket distribution model is prevalent, the majority of large venues in the US are tied to a single ticket provider, with volume sellers such as Ticketmaster, AXS and See Tickets handing over huge amounts of cash upfront to venues to sell their tickets exclusively.

This model was cited as a key in factor in Amazon Tickets’ undoing when it called off its US launch a year ago, and exclusive ticketing deals have also drawn attention from authorities in territories where they are less common, such as Germany and South Africa.

 


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Computicket fined R20m for abuse of market power

After a nearly decade-long investigation, South Africa’s leading ticket agency, Computicket, has been fined 20 million rand (US$1.5m), for allegedly abusing its dominant market position to keep competitors out of the market.

In a 61-page decision handed down by the South African Competition Tribunal this morning (21 January), Computicket – owned by local supermarket giant Shoprite – is found to have misused long-term (three-plus-year) exclusive contracts with promoters to “exclude new entrants from the outsourced ticket distribution market”, substantially lessening competition in the $83bn South African live music market.

The Competition Tribunal’s judgment brings to an end an investigation launched in 2010 by the Competition Commission of South Africa, which sought to uncover alleged abuses in the period following Computicket’s 2005 takeover by Shoprite. The origins of the case date to February 2008 when a rival company, Strictly Tickets, filed a complaint alleging anti-competitive behaviour.

“The company’s exclusivity contracts increased dramatically (in terms of quantity and duration) following its takeover by Shoprite in 2005,” according to the Competition Commission. “In addition, from at least December 2006 to September 2009, Computicket’s personnel aggressively enforced the exclusive agreements among its clients including theatres, music promoters and event organisers. This happened particularly when new entrants emerged in the market.”

In its judgment, the Competition Tribunal notes that Computicket “enjoyed a near monopoly position at the time it introduced the three-year version of the exclusive contracts in 2005″, after which “there was limited market entry during the period 2005 and 2010, a period which […] coincided with […] the introduction of the longer-term exclusivity contracts and Computicket’s aggressive enforcement of its rights under these contracts.”

“From at least December 2006 to September 2009, Computicket’s personnel aggressively enforced the exclusive agreements among its clients”

“No other theory for why entry [of new companies into the market] was so limited and ineffectual has been offered to rebut this conclusion,” it adds.

In December 2017, Germany’s largest ticket seller, CTS Eventim, was similarly found to be abusing its market dominance by requiring partner promoters to sell tickets only via its own eventim.net platform.

South Africa’s Competition Act 1998 prohibits dominant companies from engaging in “exclusionary acts” unless they can show “technological, efficiency or other pro-competitive gains which outweigh the anti-competitive effect of its act”, such as requiring their suppliers or customers not to deal with competitors.

In a statement, Shoprite says it plans to appeal the ruling. “Computicket (Pty) Ltd will appeal the Competition Tribunal’s finding that it utilised its dominance between 2005–2010 relating to exclusive agreements with inventory providers for live entertainment events,” it reads.

“The ticketing provider has studied the tribunal’s decision and, [under the] Competition Act, it has 15 business days to file its notice of appeal against the tribunal’s decision, which it intends to do.”

According to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2018, Computicket, “with a strong mass-market position and a powerful network of online and physical outlets”, “still holds pole position” in the South African market, having launched in 1971 as the world’s first computerised ticketing system.

 


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Eventim: “We will not accept” anti-exclusive contract ruling

CTS Eventim is to take to the courts in a bid to overturn a surprise ban, announced today, on its use of exclusivity agreements with promoters and box offices in Germany.

The new ruling, by the Federal Cartel Office (Bundeskartellamt), prohibits the Munich-based ticketing giant – which, with a 50–70% marketshare, is by far the German market leader, according to the International Ticketing Yearbook 2017 – of requiring partners to “only sell tickets exclusively or to a considerable extent via CTS’s eventim.net ticket sales system” – something it claims is an abuse of the company’s dominant market position.

According to the Bundeskartellamt, these “abusive exclusivity contracts with event organisers and advance booking offices” are shutting out competing ticketers and “encouraging a general trends towards further monopolisation” in Germany. Under today’s judgment, Eventim partners must have the option of selling at least 20% of their inventory annually via other ticket agencies, if their deal with the company is longer than two years. CTS has been given four months to comply with the ruling.

Andreas Mundt, president of the Bundeskartellamt, says: “As the operator of the largest ticketing system in Germany, CTS Eventim holds a dominant position in the market. Under competition law, a company with such a market position has special obligations.

“Where CTS Eventim commits its contract partners to sell tickets exclusively via its own ticketing system, the company is abusing its market power to the detriment of competition. With our decision, substantial ticket quotas will be freed up for sale via competing ticketing systems.”

The case has echoes of Songkick’s legal complaint against Live Nation/Tickmaster, which similarly alleges the US market leader is abusing its “monopoly power”, including exclusivity arrangements with major venues, to stifle competition in that market.

“We regret that the agency has not adequately considered our strong counter-arguments”

In a statement issued today, CTS Eventim says it will seek legal redress, and accuses the Bundeskartellamt of making a biased decision that fails to take into account the changing face of ticketing in Germany.

“The decision of the Federal Cartel Office ignores the fierce competition in the market for ticket services, which is constantly increasing as a result of frequent market entries by digital providers from Germany and abroad,” it reads.

“Against this background, we have to assume that the Cartel Office has gone into this procedure with a preconceived notion that does not adequately reflect this development. All the investigations in the three-year proceedings were apparently aimed at confirming this belief.

“We regret that the agency has not adequately considered our strong counter-arguments, especially as they are supported by current studies and economic expert reports. [If] they had, the investigation would have led to a different outcome.”

“For these reasons,” the statement concludes, “we will not accept the decision of the Federal Cartel Office and [will] engage the courts to correct it.”

The Bundeskartellamt last month blocked CTS Eventim’s acquisition of promoter/agency Four Artists, also on competition grounds.

 


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TM for Wales’s No1 independent promoter

Orchard Entertainment, Wales’s largest independent concert promoter, has signed an exclusive ticketing deal with Ticketmaster UK.

Orchard, which promotes over 200 shows a year in the UK and also handles corporate events, PR, TV production, graphic design and more under the Orchard Media and Events banner, will sell tickets through both Ticketmaster (TM) and its TicketWeb subsidiary, with TM also providing on-site services “from access control to box offices” at its larger productions.

“This is an exciting time for Orchard,” says the company’s Pablo Janczur. “The combined marketing reach of Ticketmaster and TicketWeb takes our events to the next level, enabling us to reach new and old fans alike.”

“The combined marketing reach of Ticketmaster and TicketWeb takes our events to the next level”

Andrew Parsons, managing director of Ticketmaster UK, adds: “We’re really looking forward to working with Orchard on their numerous shows, providing marketing reach and ticketing services, as well as having our experienced team on site at Orchard’s largest events.”

In other Orchard news, the promoter recently produced Paolo Nutini’s show at the Newport Centre (2,000-cap.), the proceeds of which went to local fan Ieuan Joel Jones, whose mother, Bevlee, died in March. “This was a very moving gesture from Paolo, and a thrill for Orchard to be involved in such a terrific event,” comments Janczur. “It was also gratifying to see so many partners rise to the occasion, and come together to ensure we could make as much for Ieuan as possible in memory of his mum.”

 


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