COMPETITION
Live events industry

The Competition Commission (CC) has decided to clear the proposed merger of ticketing giant Ticketmaster and promoter and venue operator Live Nation in the UK. As both Ticketmaster and Live Nation are headquartered in the USA, the CC’s final report notes that the merger is also being investigated by the US competition authorities. The CC has concluded that the merger will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in the market for live music ticket retailing or in any other market in the UK, including live music promotion and live music venues. Prior to the proposed merger, Live Nation signed an agreement with Ticketmaster’s largest global competitor, CTS Eventim (Eventim), headquartered in Germany, consequent to which Eventim is planning to enter the UK for the first time. Under the agreement, Eventim will provide Live Nation with ticketing software and services, enabling Live Nation to sell its own tickets. Eventim will also be allocated a proportion of Live Nation’s tickets to sell to consumers.

The CC has found that the merger will make little difference to the prospects of Eventim’s success in the UK. Although Live Nation’s incentives will change as a result of the merger, the merged entity will have little scope to affect Eventim as, under the agreement, Eventim will continue to receive a fee for every Live Nation ticket sold and Live Nation will continue to be obliged to allocate a minimum number of tickets to Eventim. In clearing the merger, the CC’s conclusion has changed from its provisional decision, published for consultation in October, in which it expressed concern that the merger could inhibit the entry of Eventim into the UK. In response to this consultation, the CC received significant new evidence and arguments. When considered alongside the existing evidence, the CC found, among other things, that prior to the announcement of the merger Live Nation had never intended to support Eventim’s entry into the UK beyond its obligations under the agreement, which would remain unchanged by the merger.

It remains to be seen if the US regulatory authorities will be as agreeable to the merger – in the UK the two groups combined dominance in primary and secondary ticketing would be a reported 50% of the market – but in the USA this rises to 80% (source: Ticketnews.com) which is causing widespread consternation amongst consumer groups on both sides of the pond. Within the live events, industry the effect of a huge combined management/promotion/venue/ticketing conglom is also causing worry, something UK regulators do not seem to been concerned about.

The full report can be downloaded at http://www.competition-commission.org.uk/rep_pub/reports/2009/552ticket.htm