Yield management, bots, resale…: the new world of ticketing

Posted Dec 14 2022 at 01:10 PM

The world of ticketing has changed a lot. With the catch-up effect observed in the programming of concerts after the pandemic, the world leader in the Ticketmaster sector saw its turnover increase by 49% in the first nine months of 2022 compared to 2019 – to 1.6 billion. of dollars.

The subsidiary’s activity of global events giant Live Nation was boosted by its exclusivity on certain events and by yield management: the average price of the seats it marketed increased by 17% on the primary market and by 10% on the secondary market, where prices in the United States are twice as high. During the presale of the Taylor Swift tour, Ticketmaster offered tickets from 47 to 431 euros, but resale sites like StubHub and Viagogo sold tickets from 1,000 to more than 20,000 euros.

France blocks

The second hand more expensive than the first hand? Could such a scenario unfold in France, where the ticketing market weighed 1.2 billion in 2019 for the private performing arts sector alone and represented around 200 million tickets including sports and museums?

“In France, a 2012 law prohibits resale without the authorization of the producer , and for their union, the Prodiss, we have been taking legal action for a long time against the English sites Viagogo or the French sites Live Booker and Next Concert”, underlines the lawyer Etienne Papin. But “the courts are overwhelmed and the convictions not applied while the fine incurred is 15,000 euros per offense – therefore per ticket – and 30,000 in the event of a repeat offense. Some cases have been under investigation for 7 years. In addition, few individuals file a complaint, ”he laments.

Unlawful or approved resale

However, there are approved resale sites such as Reelax Tickets, but it is difficult for the consumer to find their way around. Easier when an institution like the Paris Opera sets up its own scholarship , inspired by sports clubs such as PSG. France Billet (Fnac-Darty/CTS Eventim), one of the major distributors in France with See Tickets (Vivendi) and Ticketmaster (Live Nation), offers resale tools via its subsidiary Tick & Live, but used mainly by establishments sports like RC Lens.

Live Nation France, which is preparing its resale site for next year and is working on facial recognition, is already trying to curb speculation by transmitting tickets for certain shows very late (like Metallica at the ‘Accor Arena), while La Seine Musicale chooses to limit the number of tickets a customer can buy for big concerts.

Computerized or manual yield management

In terms of yield management, the practices are also very different. It is legal in France but carried out in a more measured way than in Anglo-Saxon countries, where distributors also benefit from exclusive contracts for concerts.

“The yield is set up on successful shows manually and not computerized,” explains Aurelien Binder, director of Fimalac Entertainment . Across the Channel or across the Atlantic, prices are constantly changing depending on fan hysteria, which has helped paralyze Taylor Swift’s pre-sale: after a first tranche of tickets at reasonable prices “sold out” very quickly, a second at uncapped rates has taken over: it’s orchestrated shortages”.

Nothing to do with the timid yield set up by Entertainment Internship for the Lion King in Mogador, or by the Moulin Rouge. “There is a psychological threshold acceptable to fans, probably different here. The drifts of Taylor Swift or Bruce Springsteen were possible because these stars did not set a ceiling, while others such as Pearl Jam or Indochine are very vigilant. I believe that it is not up to an algorithm to set prices solely for the sake of profit, there is a human, artistic value in a show…”, points out Christophe Davy, of Radical Production (which runs Placebo or Arctic Monkeys).

The cost of fighting bots

There remain the computer bots used by ill-intentioned actors to acquire a quantity of places resold at the highest level. France is not spared. “It’s ticket trading to increase resale prices tenfold on Le Bon Coin, Prime Minister, Viagogo, etc. It exists but on volumes that we manage to curb,” says Aurélien Binder.

“Bots are the number one excuse when systems fail…but they’re easy to detect and block,” said Rob Wilmshurst, CEO of See Tickets . Arnaud Averseng, President of France Ticket tempers him this judgment: “The technology we use has reinforced cybersecurity tools, anti-bots, but we must constantly improve them as these subjects evolve rapidly”.

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Yield management, bots, resale…: the new world of ticketing