News emerged yesterday that eBay-owned StubHub was taking action to stop what it calls “unfair and illegal anti-competitive business practices that prevent fans from deciding how they want to resell their tickets and which artificially drive up ticket prices.”
The problem, according to StubHub, is that NBA basketball team the Golden State Warriors has inked an exclusive deal to push Ticketmaster as the official secondary ticketing platform, where fans who can no longer attend a game can sell their tickets. That in itself is fine, but StubHub says that the Ticketmaster and the Golden State Warriors have issued warnings and cancelled some fans’ tickets who have elected to use StubHub and “other competitive exchanges” to shift tickets they no longer require.
“Ticketmaster and the Warriors’ front office broke the law by unlawfully threatening fans with cancellation to force them to use Ticketmaster’s resale exchange exclusively,” part of the complaint read.
In response, Jared Smith, president of Ticketmaster in North America, denies that Ticketmaster has forced any customer to use a particular platform to resell tickets — and he even has a dig at StubHub, aligning the secondary-ticketing platform with scalpers and fraudsters.
“We are disappointed that StubHub has filed a baseless lawsuit that asks the courts to help prop up its business against true fan-friendly competition,” says Smith, in a statement obtained by VentureBeat. “NBA teams like the Golden State Warriors have implemented ticket exchanges powered by Ticketmaster because they want ticket resale to be a secure experience, not an opportunity for scalping and fraud. The exchanges are growing in popularity because Ticketmaster and its partners have worked hard to make ticket resale much safer and more transparent, uniquely serving true fans. Ticketmaster does not force any customer to resell tickets on any particular platform and will vigorously defend these specious charges.”
It’s interesting that Ticketmaster has specifically denied that it hasn’t forced any customer to use its own platform to resell tickets, rather than pointing to any contractual obligation that may stipulate that fans must use Ticketmaster to sell unwanted tickets. This perhaps partly acknowledges that if any such “forceful” actions had taken place, that it may indeed be in breach of anti-competition laws. But it also serves to direct any existing blame back towards the NBA team itself, which will have to issue a separate rebuttal of StubHub’s allegations itself.
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