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StubHub welcomes proposed ticket bot legislation, attempts to make friends with the music industry

By | Published on Friday 21 October 2016


The eBay-owned secondary ticketing platform StubHub has responded to Nigel Adams MP’s proposal to sneak legislation on ticket touting bots into the Digital Economy Bill. The company says it supports this, but more needs to be done beyond changes to the law.

As previously reported, Adams has called on Prime Minister Theresa May to support his proposals to ban the use of software that is employed by touts to hoover up tickets for live shows before fans have a chance to buy them. As is her tendency, she said something quite firmly, but at the end it wasn’t really clear what she was actually talking about. Despite half agreeing with Adams, it sort of sounded like she was saying no, and that it should be left to the market to sort touting issues out. Because that has proven so effective already.

Clamping down on the use of bots by touts is the one area of regulation in the secondary market that ticket resale sites like StubHub generally don’t immediately shout down. It is, after all, quite hard to argue in favour of such technology.

To that end, StubHub told CMU yesterday: “StubHub supports legislation to tackle bot misuse. The misuse of these programmes harms all aspects of the ticketing industry, most importantly fans. We have consistently supported anti-bots legislation and recently gave evidence to the US Senate Commerce Committee on this subject”.

“This is one of the biggest issues that the ticketing industry faces”, it continued. “However, legislation alone cannot solve this. Professor Waterson’s review into the secondary ticket market concluded that event organisers and primary ticketing companies need to develop better technology in the fight against bots, which we fully support”.

The statement is StubHub’s latest move to attempt to make friends with the music industry, which is what its controversial sponsorship of this year’s Q Awards was also supposed to be about. Apparently. Speaking to IQ, the company’s Aimee Bates said that that alliance is all about investing in the live music industry.

“Our goal is to seek out partnerships where we can use our global reach to give event organisers, artists and promoters another channel to sell their tickets at face value”, she said. “The Q Awards partnership is a good example of us investing in the live industry, and we continue to seek more opportunities to continue this”.

Anti-tout group the FanFair Alliance recently accused the company of attempting to “buy legitimacy” through its Q sponsorship deal. But that’s not the case, insists Bates. StubHub’s true aim is the make ticket buying better for everyone, and to end the trend of resold tickets being stupidly expensive, by “providing a safe and secure ticket marketplace for resale [while] increasingly working with partners to offer them another channel to sell primary, face-value tickets”.

“This is a win-win”, she maintains. “Because it gives our customers more choice and gives the rightsholder another route to market for tickets. The primary inventory on the site also drives down prices in the secondary market, as sellers have to compete with face-value prices”.

The real problem is the existing primary ticketing industry, she says. Bloody idiots, trying to sell tickets to people. “It’s clear that the primary market is not functioning as well as it could, as outlined by Professor Waterson”, she says. “Transparency is deliberately lacking in terms of how many tickets are available to buy at face value at any given point. The public never have this information”.

Of course, transparency – of a lack thereof – is one of the main criticisms levelled at the secondary ticketing sites too. Despite new rules brought in by the Consumer Rights Act, sites often do not include information such as the seat number or seating blocks of tickets being resold, or who the actual seller is. Ambiguities in the new law mean that there is still some dispute over whose responsibility it is to provide this information (although StubHub does generally now provide some seating info).

But whatever, it seems like StubHub still has an uphill struggle ahead of it, if it genuinely wants to be seen as a friend of the music industry.