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Eventbrite: 30% of ticket sales still for virtual events

Eight months on from the shutdown of nearly all live events, a third of ticket sales on Eventbrite are still for online experiences, according to the US-based ticketing/event-management company.

Even as major events return to markets in Asia and Australasia – and following a temporary return to semi-normality in Europe and North America over the summer – up to 30% of Eventbrite’s ticket volume in the third financial quarter (Q3) of 2020 involved virtual events, says the company’s CFO, Lanny Baker.

Speaking to investors during Eventbrite’s Q3 earnings call, Baker said the continued popularity of online events could point to a “structural” change in the business, even after a vaccine for Covid-19 becomes available.

“When the in-person events have recovered and people have moved from their computer screens back into the real world, we’ve seen that next shift back [to physical], but we’re still talking about 10%, 20%, 30% of ticket volume being for virtual events,” he explained. “Whereas pre-Covid, that number might have been 2%, 3% or 4%.

“So I think there’s been a structural opening of a business opportunity and habit around online events. There are new creators [which were] not necessarily [in] the event marketplace in the past.”

“I think there’s been a structural opening of a business opportunity … around online events”

This continued demand for virtual experiences hasn’t, however, affected ticket sales for physical events: the company reported in September that it saw paid ticket volume grow 17% in August alone, as more fans went to Covid-secure in-person shows.

Eventbrite, which has offices in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, Spain and the Republic of Ireland, reported a 75% year-on-year decline in revenue, to US$21.8 million, in Q3 – an improvement on Q2, where the figure was just $8.4m.

The company says it has also achieved expense savings “ahead of plan” for its $100m cost-cutting scheme, announced in April, reducing net loss to $19.1m, compared to $30.1m in Q3 2019.

“The continued improvement in our results reflects creators’ ingenuity and their confidence in our platform to deliver when it matters most,” comments Eventbrite CEO Julia Hartz. “Activity on our platform rebounded in the third quarter, as creators hosted more events than they did this time last year, and total consumer ticket volume began to approach pre-Covid levels.

“We believe that our platform is uniquely positioned to serve the needs of independent creators, helping them to grow their businesses and lead the recovery of live experiences.”

 


This article forms part of IQ’s Covid-19 resource centre – a knowledge hub of essential guidance and updating resources for uncertain times.

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Live Nation: ‘We expect shows at scale next summer’

Live Nation execs were bullish on the company’s prospects during its Q3 2020 earnings call, citing further cost cutting, progress on Covid-19 testing and a “consistently low” refund rate as reasons to be cheerful after another difficult quarter for the US concert giant.

With next to no concerts taking place globally, Live Nation reported a 95.1% drop in revenue, from US$3.77 billion (in Q3 2019) to US$184 million, in the third quarter of 2020 (June–September), the second full financial quarter of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This resulted in an operating loss of $504m, compared to an operating profit of $260m the previous year, although the financial picture has improved somewhat compared to Q2 2020, part due to new concert formats such as drive-ins, live streams and socially distanced shows. (Fans attending Live Nation shows grew 180% quarter on quarter.)

Live Nation’s share price increased slightly, to a near-one month-high of just over $56, following the earnings call.

“We are working on a roadmap to get back to live safely”

Speaking to investors and analysts yesterday (5 November), LN CEO Michael Rapino said while there have “been no major changes in our business conditions or outlook since the last time we spoke”, he is encouraged by the small number of fans who have returned tickets for refunds, as well as strong festival onsales for next summer, including for EDC Las Vegas (pictured), which sold out 2021 in 24 hours.

“Meanwhile, we are working on a roadmap to get back to live safely,” he continued. “We are encouraged by progress on testing technology treatments and vaccines which will help us build our plans.”

Rapino added that the promoter “expect[s] shows at scale next summer”, although he concedes that the “exact timeline of this return will vary by region, and so we continue to focus on remaining flexible.”

He also highlighted Ticketmaster’s new SmartEvent technology, which aims to enable event organisers to easily ticket Covid-secure shows, and revealed that Live Nation is developing a set of procedures, in partnership with health experts, that will allow shows to go ahead safely until a vaccine is found. “From venue sanitation procedures to fan-friendly policies and on ticket purchases and the latest testing options, we are setting standards that will give the fans, crews and artists peace of mind before, during and after the show,” he commented.

“We are setting standards that will give the fans, crews and artists peace of mind before, during and after the show”

Live Nation president Joe Berchtold revealed that the company has made savings of a further $100m, taking its 2020 cost cutting to a total of over $900m (at last estimate, in May, the figure was nearer $600m). “We have […] reduce[d] our cash usage by $1.5 billion relative to our pre-Covid plans,” he explained.

“With these reductions, we have lowered the estimate on our operational cash burn rate [negative cash flow] to $110m per month and our gross burn rate to $175m per month on average for the last nine months of the year and prior, to the benefit of contribution margin generated by the business.”

The call also saw Rapino touch on Marc Geiger’s plan to spend $75m on buying up US venues, saying he disagrees that there is a “fire sale” on grassroots venues (“the thesis […] that these independent venues are so distressed that they’re to throw someone they keys at a very cheap price” is, he said, disproved by the amount of “capital out there” at present, including Paycheck Protection Program loans), and the problem of securing insurance for shows next year, explaining that LN remains “optimistic that the government here in the US, like many of them internationally, [will] sort it out and make sure that there’s not spurious liability [claims] for everybody who is doing the appropriate actions [on making shows Covid-safe].”

Looking to the future, Rapino says it is clear that “the path to live will not be a straight line”. That’s why, he says, Live Nation “will maintain flexibility and focus on innovating” until the long-awaited return of live music.

 


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CTS on course for bumper 2018 as revenues up 24%

German live entertainment giant CTS Eventim is confident of a record-breaking 2018, after growing turnover by nearly 24% in the first nine months of 2018.

Both ticketing and live entertainment revenues contributed to the Bremen company’s healthy balance sheet, though the latter did the bulk of the heavy lifting, growing 34.9% to €656.6 million.

Total group revenues were €922.5 – up 23.9% from €744.8m in Qs 1–3 2017 – while normalised EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation) increased 17.1%, to €114m.

Ticketing revenues increased by 4% organically, reaching €276.5m. This, says the company, was largely attributable to a significant increase in online ticketing volume, with no fewer than 33.7m tickets (+8.7%) sold via the company’s web portals. Normalised EBITDA exceeded the €100m mark for the first time – despite expenses incurred by implementing the new EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).

In live entertainment, meanwhile, normalised EBITDA climbed by a huge 78.8%, to €37.9m, up from €21.2m in the first nine months of 2017.

“The fact that we have ramped up our dynamic growth in recent months shows that we can be confident about the fourth quarter”

Key drivers of that growth included the Holiday on Ice tour; the second edition of the New Horizons dance music festival, a co-pro with Alda Events, which grew attendance by 30%; and a successful summer season for Lanxess Arena in Cologne, as well as “a greater number of tours with particularly large audiences and high sales revenue” among its promoter partners.

As with US rival Live Nation, Eventim expects 2018 to be a record year, according to CEO Klaus-Peter Schulenberg.

“CTS Eventim is on course for another record year. We improved our online ticketing volume by almost 9%, even though in many countries – also due to the football [World Cup] – fewer highly profitable tours commanding higher price levels went on sale than the year before. The fact that we have ramped up our dynamic growth in recent months shows that we can be confident about the fourth quarter.

“We are looking forward to our Christmas business, which has been, and will be, featuring a lot of presales for many attractive events.”

The full nine-month report will be available from the Eventim website as of 20 November.

 


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Live Nation confident of record 2018 after best-ever Q

Live Nation is on course for an eight consecutive year of record growth, according to CEO Michael Rapino, after posting its best-ever quarterly results.

For three months ending 30 September 2018, the live music behemoth saw turnover increase 11%, to nearly US$3.9bn, operating income 16%, to $234.2m, and AOI (adjusted operating income, which excludes several expenses, mostly related to stock-based compensation, depreciation and amortisation) 16%, to $386.5m. For the year to date (quarters 1–3), revenue was up 11%, operating income 24% and AOI 17%.

All divisions – concerts, sponsorship and ticketing (Ticketmaster) – also individually delivered their strongest-ever third-quarter AOI results.

“Our concerts business is our flywheel, attracting over 33 million fans to shows globally in the quarter, up 12% year-over-year, which then drove record results in our on-site, ticketing and sponsorship businesses,” says Rapino (pictured). “Through October, we have sold 85 million tickets for concerts in 2018, up 6% year-on-year, and we are on track to sell over 90 million tickets this year.

“We are confident that our strong performance will deliver another record year of results”

“With our strength in concert attendance growth, we are also seeing similar success in our on-site, sponsorship and ticketing businesses, giving us confidence that 2018 will be another year of record results for Live Nation overall and for each of our divisions.”

Live Nation grew its revenues by US$2bn, or 24%, in 2017 – its seventh consecutive year of record-breaking growth.

“As we approach the end of 2018, we are confident that our strong performance will deliver another record year of results,” Rapino continues.

“All of our businesses – concerts, sponsorship and ticketing – have delivered growth year-to-date through September, and based on their key operating metrics, we expect each to deliver record revenue, operating income and AOI for the full year. As we look forward, we see tremendous opportunities to continue the global expansion of our concerts and ticketing businesses, and for further growth in sponsorship and ticketing from the concerts flywheel.”

 


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LN on course for another record year after ‘best Q3 ever’

Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino has praised the ‘resilience’ of the concert business to attacks such as those in Manchester and Las Vegas, as the live music giant posted its best third-quarter results to date.

Speaking to investors yesterday, Rapino said Live Nation has seen “increased ticket sales since September” and “no effect at all on the business” from the shooting at its Route 91 Harvest festival, saying a combination of the “diversity” of Live Nation’s “global business” – and the industry’s collective response to terrorism, with all major players “doing a better job over the last five years of upgrading its on-site [security]” – means the company is still on course for its best year to date.

In Q3, Live Nation’s year-on-year revenue was up 12% to US$3.6bn, with operating income up 5% (to $201m) and adjusted operating income (AOI) up 10% (to $335m); in the nine months ending 30 September, meanwhile, revenue grew 19%, operating income 26% and AOI 16%. All three Live Nation Entertainment divisions – concerts, advertising and ticketing – delivered their strongest quarterly AOI results ever, Rapino said.

Live Nation’s 20,000+ concerts were attended by 65m people – a 16% rise – with revenue climbing 11% to $2.9bn, while revenue from sponsorship/advertising grew 16% to $158m, and ticketing 17% to $532m. Underlying Ticketmaster’s growth, said Rapino, is its “product innovation”, including the roll-out of its Verified Fan platform and moving to solely digital ticketing with the National Football League (NFL).

“We are confident that our strong performance will deliver another year of record top line”

Verified Fan has reportedly reduced the number of tickets finding their way to the secondary market by 90%, with Rapino predicting that, by the end of the year, “we will deliver three million tickets to Verified Fans, saving them $100m relative to buying on secondary sites after bots got the tickets first.” (Live Nation no longer provides separate financial results for its primary and secondary ticketing platforms.)

Live Nation COO Joe Berchtold also touched briefly on the ongoing Songkick lawsuit, telling investor Brandon Ross of BTIG – who asked if the company’s legal fees (included in a loss of $41.3m associated with “other [costs] and eliminations”) would be “something that’s ongoing” – he expects, “hopefully, to get that resolved and move on, but in the near term, there is a bit of costs associated with that.”

Commenting on the results, Rapino says: “As we approach the end of 2017, we are confident that our strong performance will deliver another year of record top line, operating income and AOI.  All of our businesses – concerts, advertising and ticketing – have delivered growth for the nine months, and based on their key operating metrics, we currently expect each to deliver record revenue, operating income and AOI for the full year.

“As we look forward, we see tremendous opportunities to continue global consolidation of our concerts and ticketing businesses, and for further growth in advertising and ticketing from the concerts flywheel.”

 


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