Event ticketing is “ripe for disruption”

Amid the huge Ticketmaster data breach, along with a new lawsuit to stop it from monopolising the market, it's no surprise that Aussies are fed up with ticketing providers. Janie Medbury investigates.

AROUND two million Australian eventgoers have allegedly had their personal data breached following a cyber attack on Ticketmaster, which is believed to have impacted 560 million of customers around the world.

Hackers have reportedly stolen 1.3 terabytes of customer data from the American ticket sales and distribution company, including names, addresses, credit card numbers, and phone numbers.

Well-known hacker group, ShinyHunters, posted evidence of the attack on the dark web, and is threatening to sell the information unless it receives a ransom of US$500,000 (A$750,000).

It wouldn’t be the first time the notorious hacker group have caused strife for Aussies, after leaking the data of 193,000 Pizza Hut customers last year.

Ticketmaster has remained silent so far on the issue, neither confirming nor denying the data breach, despite being called out by furious customers across its social media platforms.

The Australian Government’s cyber security office released a statement this morning saying it is “engaging” with the ticketing giant to “understand the incident”, but has encouraged concerned customers to contact Ticketmaster directly.

If the information is released on the black market, it could have dire implications for the millions of people caught up in the hack, including the risk of financial fraud and identity theft.

TravelBulletin‘s sister publication, Travel Daily, has reached out to Ticketmaster Australasia for comment.

The data breach comes just a week after the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a lawsuit against Ticketmaster and Live Nation – which merged in 2010 to become the biggest live entertainment company in the world – over claims they are unlawfully monopolising the live event ticketing market.

DOJ has accused the duo of using long-term contracts to prevent venues from choosing rival ticketers, blocking venues from using multiple ticket sellers, and threatening venues that they could lose money if they don’t choose Ticketmaster. As a consequence, event ticket costs have ballooned and competing businesses struggle to survive.

The company has hit back, saying the lawsuit “won’t solve the issues fans care about relating to ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows”, and insisted it isn’t to blame for high prices.

If successful, the lawsuit will allow more competition in the US ticket-selling market – of which Ticketmaster controls a whopping 70% of – with the expectation that this will lead to cheaper ticket prices.

In Australia however, Ticketmaster takes a smaller slice of the market, while Ticketek and its parent company TEG dominate the scene.

Like their US counterparts, Aussie eventgoers are frustrated with the cost of live event tickets, according to Eventfinda TixSuite, a new ticketing software model that launched Down Under earlier this year.

New research from the company found that, while demand for live events remains high, the majority of Aussies (79%) think tickets are too expensive, with ‘junk’ fees being the main source of annoyance and confusion.

Only 40% of Australians say they understand the various fees and charges around tickets, and 72% agreed they would be more accepting of fees if there was more transparency around why they were charged.

Add in the frustration of high waiting times, ticketing websites crashing, and scalpers selling fake or exorbitantly priced tickets on resale websites, and Aussies are becoming increasingly fed up with ticketing providers.

In fact, only 21% believe providers like Ticketmaster have the best interests of consumers at heart, found TixSuite’s first Ticketing Sentiment Report, which is based on a survey conducted by Pureprofile of 1,010 18 to 64-year-olds.

Eventfinda TixSuite CEO, James McGlinn, said the findings confirm “ticketing in Australia is broken and ripe for disruption”.

“It is clear that Aussies continue to value experiences very highly, with many continuing to spend money on attending live events even as the cost of living continues to rise.

“They also continue to attend events despite many having a range of grievances with the way ticketing is done in Australia, and unsurprisingly we’ve found that the majority would like more transparency from ticketing providers when it comes to the fees attached to most live event tickets.”

He pointed out how the current model also causes problems for event organisers and venues, who are “forced to pass on per-ticket fees to ticket purchasers” and “endure cashflow issues with ticketing providers holding cash from sales until after their event”.

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