Why It's Impossible To Find Affordable Tickets To Your Favorite Shows

A report from the state Attorney General finds buying tickets is mostly a rigged game.

If you find it impossible, or just financially back-breaking, to find tickets to your favorite shows, you’re most likely not alone.

That’s according to an investigation released Thursday by the New York State Attorney General’s office into the live entertainment ticket industry that found major abuses preventing consumers from accessing tickets.

“Ticketing is a fixed game,” says Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.  “This investigation is just the beginning of our efforts to create a level playing field in the ticket industry.”

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The investigation, which began in response to a number of citizen complaints, uncovered a number of unsavory practices that kept tickets out of the hands of New Yorkers.

One such practice, the use of specialty software (ticket bots) to purchase tickets as quickly as possible in order resell at a markup, is effectively depriving people of the opportunity to purchase tickets at a reasonable price. According to the AG report, on December 8, 2014, a single broker was able to purchase over 1,000 tickets to U2’s show at Madison Square Garden the first minute they went on sale.

“I’ve worked with artists to make ticket prices more affordable only to see those same tickets on sale on the secondary market for much more than face value,” David Taylor, an independent promoter with Empire State Concerts, said in a statement released with the report. “It’s what happens when the bots are involved.”

Not only do consumers have to deal with the stress caused ‘ticket bots,’ but they also must contend with additional fees that are tacked on by both venues and sites like Ticketmaster.  These fees can add more than 21percent onto the face price of tickets, according to the report. 

If consumers are unable to acquire tickets through the initial offering, they are forced to turn to the secondary market. Sites like StubHub and TicketsNow do provide people with the opportunity to get that hard-to-come-by ticket. However, the average ticket is offered at 49 percent above face value.  In some extreme cases, these margins are more than 1000 percent.

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But the general public is at a disadvantage when purchasing tickets beyond just the price. On average, a majority of the tickets, 54 percent, are reserved for insiders (people who are members of a fan club or have a particular credit card). 

“Consumers are left with the choice of not attending events or paying a lot to see their favorite artists,” says Taylor. “This is a practice that needs to end.”

Schneiderman said his office will continue to “crack down on those who break our laws, prey on ordinary consumers, and deny New Yorkers affordable access to the concerts and sporting events they love.” 


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