COMPETITION / ANTI-TRUST
Live events sector
In what could prove to be a landmark case in the sports ticket marketplace, StubHub filed a lawsuit against the Golden State Warriors and Ticketmaster in the northern district of California accusing the two of conspiring to create an illegal resale market.
The U.S. basketball team have an alliance with Live Nation’s Ticketmaster, which is both the primary ticket seller for the team, and operates the Warriors’ official season ticket resale platform.
In a Californian law suit, secondary re-seller StubHub, owned by e-Bay, has argued that this violates competition law, because Warriors fans can only buy tickets – whether through primary channels or on the resale market – via the Live Nation subsidiary. StubHub maintains that the Warriors and Ticketmaster have cancelled or threatened to cancel season-ticket packages if fans resell their tickets over secondary exchanges that compete with Ticketmaster’s.
In response the Golden State Warriors said that its ticketing partnership in no way violated anti-trust rules because if customers didn’t want to buy tickets via a Ticketmaster platform, they could always go watch another basketball team play. According to Law 360, the Warriors wrote in their recent submission “Even a seller of a highly attractive product – which, at this moment, Warriors tickets may be – must consider competition from reasonably interchangeable products”. They went on: “The anti-trust laws protect competition and are not a guarantee of business to any particular competitor. The events described in StubHub’s [complaint] reflect ordinary competitive processes, not antitrust violations”. The Warriors also argue that having the same company handling primary ticketing sales and subsequent resales is actually in the interest of consumers, because it prevents potential fraud. They say: “The benefit of this integration is obvious: Ticketmaster is the only third party able to confirm that a ticket offered for resale is a valid ticket and to prevent an individual from reselling the same ticket multiple times”.
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