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AEG venues ally with new AXS ticket resale site, end StubHub partnership

By | Published on Tuesday 26 June 2018


AEG-operated London venues The O2 and Wembley Arena have announced a new alliance with the live giant’s own ticketing business AXS. It will see the creation of a marketplace where fans can resell tickets they have bought, but only at face value with a maximum 10% admin fee. The new price-capped resale set-up will launch as the two venues end their formal partnership with eBay’s secondary ticketing site StubHub.

This is the latest effort by the live industry to counter one of the main excuses used by the big players in the secondary ticketing sector. That being that there need to be websites where fans can sell on tickets because most venues and promoters have a ‘no refunds’ policy. That policy means that, if a fan buys a ticket genuinely intending to go to a show but then can’t, ethically speaking they should be able to sell that ticket on, even if the terms and conditions technically ban resale.

Critics of the secondary ticketing market accuse industrial level touts and the resale platforms they employ of hiding behind these fans who genuinely intended to go to a show. The argument goes that – while there may well be lots of fans in that situation trying to sell on their tickets via sites like StubHub, Viagogo, Seatwave and Get Me In – most of the money generated in the secondary market, and most of the commissions collected by those websites, come from a small group of commercial ticket touts.

On the flip side, supporters of the secondary market argue that efforts by some in the live sector to crack down on ticket touting may also be hitting genuine fans. For example, where promoters are routinely cancelling tickets known to have been resold, that action may also impact on fans who – while technically not allowed to sell on their tickets – probably should be able to, given the no refunds policy.

With that in mind, various venues and promoters have set up services via which fans who need to sell on tickets – because they can no longer attend – can do so, but only at face value (with a capped admin fee). Many promoters appoint a third party website to do this, like Twickets, while some ticketing firms have set up their own services. These endorsed resale platforms make it easier to transfer the name of the ticket from original buyer to new buyer, which can be important if a promoter is cracking down on the touts.

The AXS Marketplace also does all this, although its system is arguably more sophisticated than what has gone before, should be more user-friendly, and is definitely more open access. Or open AXS maybe.

The ticketing company is certainly very pleased with its technology, which includes what it calls ‘Flash Seats’ mobile delivery, a set up already used by some AXS clients Stateside. All in all, it reckons the AXS Marketplace is “a unique ticket resale platform … that incorporates state of the art ticketing technology” so to give venues and promoters “better management over the resale market”.

The company brags on: “For the first time ever, tickets for sale using AXS, including primary and secondary, will be visible to consumers at the point of purchase in real time. It will also eliminate confusion and remove fan anxiety as to whether their ticket is actually valid for entry”.

The new marketplace will launch with AEG’s flagship venues – The O2 and Wembley Arena – on board, with a view to then rolling out the service across Europe. The new marketplace comes as the anti-ticket touting campaign continues to gain momentum in a number of European countries, not least the UK.

Whereas its rival Live Nation is in the secondary ticketing business, owning Seatwave, Get Me In and other resale sites, AEG can try to position itself as the go to business partner for artists who oppose touting. Of course, AEG has worked with StubHub over the years, and continues to do so in the US. But no more at The O2 and Wembley.

A spokesperson for StubHub confirmed to IQ this morning that its partnership with AEG’s London arenas was coming to an end. They said: “StubHub and AEG have taken the mutual decision to end their partnership after five years, as AEG moves exclusively to AXS, a ticketing solution owned and operated by AEG. In this time, we have enjoyed a successful partnership with AEG in the UK. As we part ways, we welcome the increased competition which AEG’s marketplace will bring to consumers and the industry at large”.

Back at AEG HQ, the boss of AEG Europe, Tom Miserendino, reckons that the AXS Marketplace is just what the European live industry (other than Live Nation and its Ticketmaster division, presumably) is calling for.

He told reporters: “There has been a noticeable shift in the industry recently and more of our artists and promoters want a better solution to ensure fans get an authentic ticket at a fair price. Through AXS Marketplace, Flash Seats mobile delivery and capped pricing, we can now deliver this. It is fairer for fans, eliminates counterfeiting, combats touting and allows us to have a complete view of everyone at the event”.

Meanwhile, the boss of AXS Europe, Robert Byrne, added: “[The Marketplace] will help prevent ticket touting and help combat illegal counterfeiting. We know that fans, artists and their representatives have been looking for a solution to these issues for a long time and we believe AXS Marketplace with Flash Seats mobile delivery will be a real game-changer”.

Anti-tout campaigning group FanFair – which has always supported what are sometimes called ‘ethical resale sites’ – welcomed the launch of the AXS Marketplace.

It told CMU this morning: “FanFair Alliance welcomes today’s announcement by AXS. While our campaign has helped deliver significant legislative and regulatory changes, we are now seeing tangible progress in the UK’s ticketing market and a seemingly unstoppable trend towards services that offer consumer-friendly resale”.

The statement goes on: “AXS Marketplace looks like a significant addition to these, capping resale at 10% of the original ticket price and deploying mobile technology so that artist teams can better protect fans and lock out the touts. Our supporters will look forward to further information from AXS about the platform’s rollout and launch”.

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