Talking Tickets 31 January 2020

Hey There!

Thanks for being here again this week. If you are enjoying this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues to sign up by visiting this link.

Yesterday saw the release of “What Matters In Tickets Now!” an ebook that I put together in partnership with my friends at Booking Protect.

I can say that this is one of the coolest things we’ve pulled together so far: 40 perspectives on the world of tickets and how to make more sales! It is great!

In conjunction with the launch of the ebook, we are putting together a special webinar with key ideas, takeaways, and action items to make the ideas from the ebook take hold in your organization. The webinar will be Wednesday, 26 February, and we will have a landing page to sign up ready for next week’s email, but if you want to make certain you get hooked up…reply to this email.

To the tickets!


1. Kobe Bryant passed away in a helicopter crash in the Los Angeles area:

Like all of us, Kobe Bryant had a complex history. And, one of the more mature things I’ve learned over the years is the understanding that no matter how you feel on a topic, your feelings are valid. So I am cognizant of the people celebrating his life and pointing out his failings, all of those feelings are valid.

I mention that because I don’t want to make a values-based judgment on this story, but I did want to discuss this because I think it highlights a few big points about what sports does for us and why sports and live events matter:

  • First, this story reflects the power of community that live events foster. I heard Bill Simmons talk about how Kobe’s death feels like it is hanging over the community. This is in death, but if you look through history, you’ve seen how sports also has pulled communities together, if only for a short time like when the Caps won the Stanley Cup
  • Second, this story points to the irrational nature of our likes, dislikes, and fandom. As many announcers pointed out, most people never met Kobe, so they didn’t know him, but they felt a real pain at his loss. While, I’m looking at this through the lens of Kobe, this equally applies to any athlete, team, or star. I mean, I have no rational reason for disliking the Oklahoma City Thunder, but because I was a Supersonics season ticket holder when I was a young adult, the ache of the loss of the Sonics is still there
  • Finally, it reflects the power of shared experiences. Sometimes, in a world where everything feels like it is on-demand or at our fingertips, we can miss shared experiences and that should be a lesson that we apply to the way we present events. 

2. The Super Bowl is on Sunday and the death of the NFL seems to have been a myth:

The challenges and opportunities that the NFL are looking at over the next few years likely deserve its own series of blog posts, but right now you can’t help but respect the turnaround that they NFL and its teams have managed.

$16B in revenue, rating increases, new stars, and more.

The article above does raise a lot of good questions about where the business will go next with gambling, chord cutting, and changing tastes of modern consumers.

But as we head into the Super Bowl, we can learn a lot from the NFL like how consistency and focus can help you weather a storm; how to monetize an audience; and how to respond to drops in business.

Plus, this year’s Super Bowl is an especially hot ticket! 

My question to you is who do you have in the game and what’s the score? I’ll come up with some prize for the person that picks the winner and is closest to the score. I don’t know what it will be, but we can figure out something fun…maybe buy you a drink or something.

3. StubHub could face legal action in the UK for deceptive pricing:

I’m not an anti-trust lawyer, but my lady is…so I don’t know the legal ramifications of the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority’s investigation into the merger of StubHub and Viagogo, but I can guess stories like this don’t help the merger in any market that is investigating it.

Unless you live in the United States where anti-trust enforcement hasn’t really been very strict for 30+ years and the rule of law seems to be optional in a lot of cases lately.

The context of a story likely helps a lot of you:

In the UK, the secondary market isn’t as big of a part of the ecosystem as it is in the United States. While resale has become more common over the last few years, professional trading is often frowned upon.

My argument to the traders that I am in touch with has often been that if you want to work in resale and be a valued part of the system, you have to work to constantly improve your value, deliver something differentiated from the primary market, and be above board in your business practices.

So a story like this hits right at the heart of what folks dislike about professional “touts” and the secondary market in general.

Add this to the public’s distrust of Viagogo and you can see that this isn’t helpful to any ongoing investigation of their merger or further or greater public acceptance of the secondary market in the UK or other countries around the world.

4. Live Nation’s updated consent decree is filed:

There was a few things going on with Live Nation this week that probably were worth paying attention to:

First, the consent decree. The new filing shows that Live Nation and Ticketmaster broke the decree on, at least, 6 occasions.

Live Nation pushes back talking about 6 alleged instances in around 5,000 deals.

A new $1M penalty for each transgression, a deal cut quickly, and dropped at a time totally designed for people not to notice it!

It looks like a victory for Live Nation to me!

Second, Live Nation is building a war chest to acquire more businesses. 

There is a lot of consolidation in the ticketing technology area going on right now and I don’t know if or when there will be some sort of correction.

What all of this massive amount of consolidation signals to me is that there is room for smaller and nimble competitors to swoop in and win a lot of business because as these companies grow larger, it is going to be incredibly difficult for these companies to service everyone effectively.

Finally, Live Nation completes the acquisition of the UK’s largest concert promoter. 

Over the next few years, this will bear watching because industry practices and consumer protection laws are much different in the UK and how this impacts the distribution of shows and Ticketmaster’s ability to win more business in the UK bears watching.

5. The CoronaVirus is causing troubles for sports business:

A few weeks back I had Greg Turner come on the podcast to share a bunch of stuff about China with us. Due to the nature of the Chinese internet and the way that they control access to websites and other things, that conversation was corrupted due to some technical difficulties and we figured out a way to rerecord our conversation to make sure we could have a proper chat.

On this new conversation we talked about a bunch of stuff, but we got into the conversation about the virus and how it is causing the cancellation of the X Games, the World Indoor Athletic Championships, and the Chinese Basketball Association is postponing play during the crisis.

Greg has a lot of insight into the situation in China, but seeing the AFL’s conversation around their annual China game continued to raise these issues for me and begged a couple of questions:

  • What’s the long-term impact of a virus or outbreak like this?
  • How do we prepare for these types of outbreaks when we can’t and don’t know when they will happen? 
  • What would you do if something like this started during a big event like the Olympics? 

These are complex questions and they mirror in many ways the questions I raised when considering the impact of climate change on events a few weeks back.


What am I up to this week?

I’m posting a few podcasts including Episode 100. Who will my special guest be? You’ll have to listen to find out!

I recaped INTIX on my blog and TicketNews as well.

I’m in DC this week! If you are in town, let me know.

My travel schedule is starting to take shape and I can confirm I’ll be in London from 10-16 April with a trip to the new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium at the top of my must-do list!

I’m also planning a series of workshops for the spring in London, Manchester, and Edinburgh. The details on this are still being mapped out, but if you are in the area of one of these places and want to be kept in the loop on these special events, reply to this email.

I’m working with some sponsors that will enable me to offer tickets to these events on an invitation basis. So, get your interest into me and let me know I’m looking at the right places to take my show on the road. 

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