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Volume 21 No. 13
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7. Arrival of Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan to sports

Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan technology will move from concerts like Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour into high-demand sports championships.
Outside of sports, the most talked-about element of ticketing over the past year has been the advent of Ticketmaster’s Verified Fan technology. An attempt by the ticketing giant to thwart automated bots from illegally scooping up large quantities of sought-after tickets, Verified Fan seeks to analyze every registrant in Ticketmaster’s system and ensure they are a real person. That process typically involves a pre-registration in which a fan ultimately receives a code allowing him the opportunity, but not the guarantee, to buy tickets.

Verified Fan
Select clients
 College Football Playoff
 Taylor Swift
"Springsteen on Broadway"
Demi Lovato
Trans-Siberian Orchestra
Source: SportsBusiness Journal research  

The technology has been deployed for some of Ticketmaster’s most coveted inventory, including Bruce Springsteen’s ongoing Broadway show and upcoming tours by U2 and Taylor Swift. And Ticketmaster says it has posted a 90 percent success rate thus far blocking bots. Industry terminology has dubbed efforts such as Verified Fan as “slow ticketing,” indicating an effort to sell high-demand events in a much more organized fashion.

But Verified Fan also has been beset with troubling technical issues including faulty fan codes, server crashes and algorithm errors. Many fans can’t help but notice much higher prices in many instances compared with recent tours by the same acts. Some Swift fans were also put off by an additional pay-for-play component in which fans could boost their place in the virtual ticket line by purchasing merchandise. And a new secondary market of Verified Fan codes has popped up in response to Ticketmaster’s efforts, along with vibrant resale markets for those popular tours.

The early focus for Verified Fan has been on concerts, given the high demand and low inventory dynamics of a typical short-run music tour. But Ticketmaster has said that its anti-bot efforts will ultimately extend throughout its entire network of events, meaning the technology will work its way into sports, particularly for high-demand championship events. But sports also relies on repeat fan business much more than concerts, meaning the early hiccups will need to be solved before a broader rollout happens.