The Department of Justice Says It’s “Time To Break Up Live Nation” After Ticketmaster Controversy – The Average Joe


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    The Department of Justice Says It’s “Time To Break Up Live Nation” After Ticketmaster Controversy

    Noah Weidner

    May 23, 2024

    There’s nothing more dangerous than a passionate group of fans — just ask Ticketmaster. Last year, the world’s largest ticketing platform crashed as Swifties swarmed the site to buy tickets for Taylor Swift’s “Eras Tour.”

    Since then, Ticketmaster’s hefty 20-33% cut of ticket sales has caught the attention of media, Congress, and government regulators. But that was just the opening act. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and 30 states have been preparing for the main attraction — an effort to break up its parent company, Live Nation ($LYV).

    The main act: Last year, Live Nation’s revenue jumped 36% to $22.7B, with nearly 80% of US major concert venue tickets sold through Ticketmaster. But on Thursday, the DOJ filed a long-anticipated suit against Live Nation, which could break up its “monopolistic control over the live events industry in the United States.” The case alleges that the company’s dominance has stifled innovation and competition — increasing prices for fans and harming the industry.

    • The complaint says that Live Nation and Ticketmaster “exploit their conflicts of interests as a promoter, ticketer, venue owner and artist manager” to “entrench their dominant position” (CNBC).
    • Live Nation denied the claims, blaming ticket scalping and artist popularity for higher prices — despite its reported role in facilitating scalping and selling tickets directly on resale sites.

    The biggest breakup since the Beatles

    If the DOJ is successful, separating Ticketmaster and Live Nation could impact 80% of the concert ticketing market, over 265 venues, and the management of 400 A-list artists. Such a move could change global entertainment… or not.

    • In 2010, Live Nation was cleared to acquire Ticketmaster under an agreement not to exploit its power against venues — but it did that anyway.
    • Northeastern University law professor John Kwoka, who worked on the 2010 case, says, “You can’t just reverse the merger” due to the company’s exclusivity, assets, and control.

    The DOJ’s busy tour: It’s hard to predict the case’s outcome, especially with the DOJ’s busy schedule. This is the third antitrust case filed by the DOJ, following cases against Google ($GOOGL) and Apple ($AAPL). But after successfully stopping a tie-up between airlines Spirit ($SAVE) and JetBlue ($JBLU) earlier this year, anything could happen… so long as this year’s election doesn’t derail it.

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