Viagogo-StubHub Deal Could Bring New Ticketing Regulations
Viagogo's $4.05B acquisition of StubHub -- creating the world's largest ticket resale company -- could trigger new regulations on the secondary ticketing market and further consolidation, sources said. In Europe and the U.K., Viagogo, which was launched by StubHub co-Founder Eric Baker, has faced criticism from regulators over misleading consumers on fees, delaying refunds and allowing ticket brokers to scoop up tickets to high-demand events at the expense of fans. Viagogo moved its U.K. offices to N.Y. in '18. "They are known as the swashbuckling pirates of the secondary ticket markets," said TicketManager co-Founder & CEO Tony Knopp, whose company helps corporate clients manage their bulk tickets. Knopp said the U.S. Department of Justice's review of the Viagogo-StubHub merger, coupled with the U.S. House of Representatives' probe of the ticketing industry, will likely lead to new regulations on the secondary market. "This is going to be an opportunity for a number of regulators and government officials ... to use the DOJ inquiry to try to push forward some regulation," said Knopp, who has also worked for StubHub and AEG. He believes those sought-after regulations could be fee transparency and speculatory selling.
THE AFTERMATH: Eventellect co-Founder Patrick Ryan, whose company supplies tickets to StubHub, said that ticket sellers and Ticketmaster are probably breathing a sigh of relief that Viagogo rather than Vivid Seats made a successful bid for StubHub. A Vivid Seats takeover would have put roughly 60% of the U.S. secondary ticketing market in one company's hands. Ryan said it will be interesting to see if StubHub under Baker's leadership ramps up or down its inventory buying. Viagogo's purchase of StubHub was likely a play for global growth, Ryan said. "This concerns SeatGeek as they had made tremendous progress in the U.K. and I do view this move as being centered around tackling international (ticket sales)," he added.
WHAT COMES NEXT? Ryan said he will be monitoring the Viagogo's next big move, which could include buying a primary ticketing company like Tickets.com, which is owned by MLBAM and has been on and off the market over the years. Knopp said he expects Vivid Seats, which was interested in buying StubHub, to make a play for another company and expects StubHub's other suitors to look elsewhere for deals. "What other dominoes fall next now that this has happened?" Knopp asked. "What do Silver Lake, KKR, Vivid Seats, who missed out, do next? Because there are other acquisitions they can make out there. ... This is just the big domino that's going to impact everything that happens over the next 18 months."