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Giving Ticketmaster primary and secondary ticketing is consumer-friendly and not anti-competitive, according to basketball team

By | Published on Friday 7 August 2015


Another recent development in an ongoing case in the Californian courts now, this time StubHub’s previously reported lawsuit against Ticketmaster and basketball team the Golden State Warriors.

As previously noted, eBay-owned ticket resale site StubHub objects to the Warriors’ ticketing alliance with Live Nation’s Ticketmaster, which is both primary ticket seller for the team and operates the Warriors’ official season ticket resale platform. As a result of that tie-up, the Warriors company is prone to cancel any tickets it sees being resold on other resale sites like, say, StubHub.

In what seemed like an optimistic lawsuit from the start, the eBay company argued that this set up violates competition law, because Warriors fans can only buy tickets – whether through primary channels or on the resale market – via the Live Nation subsidiary.

Ticketmaster hit out at the litigation from the off, while in a recent court filing the Golden State Warriors said that its ticketing partnership in no way violated any competition laws – or anti-trust rules, to use American terminology – because if customers didn’t want to buy tickets via a Ticketmaster platform, they could always go watch some other basketball team play.

According to Law 360, reps for the Warriors wrote in their recent submission, in a way that enabled a brag about the team’s recent success in the NBA Championship: “Even a seller of a highly attractive product – which, at this moment, Warriors tickets may be – must consider competition from reasonably interchangeable products”.

They went on: “The anti-trust laws protect competition and are not a guarantee of business to any particular competitor. The events described in StubHub’s [complaint] reflect ordinary competitive processes, not antitrust violations”.

Although a sporting industry case, this dispute has potentially wider implications for the secondary ticketing market at large, the deals done between event promoters and specific resale services, and any resulting cancellation of tickets touted elsewhere (a practice usually allowed under any one ticket’s terms and conditions).

Later in their submission the Warriors also argue that having the same company handling primary ticketing sales and subsequent resales is actually in the interest of consumers, because it prevents potential fraud. They say: “The benefit of this integration is obvious: Ticketmaster is the only third party able to confirm that a ticket offered for resale is a valid ticket and to prevent an individual from reselling the same ticket multiple times”.