SBD/Issue 36/Olympics

First-Day Jitters: Beijing Olympics Ticketing Site Crashes

The sale of '08 Beijing Olympic tickets to the Chinese public yesterday "collapsed ... when frenzied demand led the ticketing system to crash," according to Chao & Fong of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. People could either buy tickets online or at one of 1,000 designated Bank of China locations, and people "lined up as early as 2:30 a.m ... only to be turned away because the demand sparked a ticketing-database failure." The sale was "to be a major debut" for Ticketmaster, the Games' exclusive ticket provider, but a report said that the Web site created to process ticket requests "received eight million hits within the first hour, with more than 200,000 orders received every second." A Ticketmaster spokesperson said, "We are still working through the solutions for consumers, and BOCOG will make an announcement when the onsale will resume and how consumers should proceed." About 9,000 of the 1.85 million tickets available were sold during the first two hours (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10/31). The Web site, which had a capacity to deal with 1 million hits an hour, garnered 20 million hits during the first three hours. Meanwhile, the ticket booking system "should have been able to sell 150,000 tickets an hour" (REUTERS, 10/31). 

LOGISTICAL CHALLENGES: The FINANCIAL TIMES' Mure Dickie writes the failure "highlights the scale of the logistical challenge that China faces in hosting" the Olympics. The crash is also a "setback for Ticketmaster," and an "embarrassment for BOCOG, which had hailed the system as 'time-saving and convenient' in heavy pre-sale promotions." Bank of China "moved to minimise any adverse publicity by stressing that it was BOCOG's system that had failed and that 'no abnormality' had been found with its own network" (FINANCIAL TIMES, 10/31). However, BUSINESS WEEK's Chi-Chu Tschang writes BOCOG "must be happy about the ticketing frenzy-turned-fiasco," as it shows a strong demand for tickets.  The IOC is "counting on sellout crowds at major Olympic events" after many unsold tickets at the '04 Athens Games (BUSINESSWEEK.com, 10/30).

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