TickPick Doubles User Base with Razorgator Acquisition


TickPick has acquired ticket re-seller Razorgator (excluding its corporate ticketing business) to grow market share in a competitive secondary ticketing industry. The company’s “Best Price Guarantee” (on the exact same ticket) and “No Fee” policy (for buyers), has enabled it to onboard over 1 million active users. Their white-label software will power a revamped Razorgator website, one that also maintains +/- 1 million loyal users. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is suspected TickPick paid far less than the +/-$60 million in venture capital that Razorgator had raised to date; considering the company declared financial insolvency back in February.

Howie Long-Short: TickPick has been able to capture market share by operating on slimmer margins (13-14% commission) than the 25%+ collected, per transaction, by market leaders StubHub (EBAY) and Ticketmaster (LYV). The company did $100 million in 2017 sales, with EBITDA of $2 million over the trailing 12 months. Expect them to continue rolling up competitors, as consolidation within the secondary ticketing industry continues.

As mentioned, Razorgator raised $58.5 million over 6 rounds; though, no new money since ’14, before running out of runway. Steamboat Ventures, the venture capital arm of The Walt Disney Company (DIS) and Hercules Capital (HTGC) had both invested in the company. I’m unaware of any way to play TickPick.

Fan Marino: FlipTix, a mobile marketplace that enables fans to buy and sell tickets mid-event, is another exciting entrant to the secondary ticketing space. While historically, most stadiums prevent fan exit and re-entry, the FlipTix app gives promoters the ability to invalidate a bar-code on a ticket, notify prospective buyers, re-sell the seat and issue a new ticket. The original buyer then receives remuneration for their contribution to the transaction, though not necessarily in the form of cash. Secondary buyer pricing is determined by variables like the score and time remaining in the game. With teams once again moving downtown, fans are living/working within walking distance (or a quick ride-share) to the venue. I would expect FlipTix to capitalize on the fan who gets out of work late and wants to “catch a few innings” on his/her way home from the office; a market that didn’t exist prior to their entry.

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Amazon Closes Event Ticketing Operation, May Relaunch with New Platform in 2019


Amazon (AMZN) has announced it will be closing its U.K. event ticketing operation (Amazon Tickets), less than 3 months after abandoning plans to launch in the United States; though, the company may be planning to relaunch in 2019 with new technology. Amazon’s open distribution model had some initial success in Europe (signed a partnership with AEG, launched a concert series), but the company’s inability to work out a partnership with Ticketmaster (in the U.S.) was its downfall. Speculation exists that AMZN is working on a new platform that would sync with both Echo and Firestick devices and use AI-powered Alexa to locate tickets.

Howie Long-Short: If you’re looking for “underdogs” that could potentially take on Ticketmaster (LYV), look at Alibaba subsidiaries Tao Piao Piao and Damai.cn. Tao Piao Piao, an online ticketer, was formed out of a partnership between Alibaba (BABA) and Damai.cn in May 2016; BABA has since increased its stake in Tao Piao Piao to 96.7%. In March 2017, Jack Ma’s e-commerce giant acquired the ticketing agency Damai.cn for an undisclosed sum (BABA a minority investor since ‘14). The Alibaba Pictures Group (the entertainment sector of BABA) reported in September, that H1 ‘17 revenue increased 313% YOY (to $165 million); attributing the growth to increased contributions from Tao Piao Piao.

Fan Marino: Here’s to hoping AMZN re-enters the ticketing space; they intended on cutting the service and processing fees for Prime members, a change that would have resulted in a savings of +/- $15 for every $100 ticket purchased.

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Accounting Mechanism Could Impact F1 Share Price


Morgan Stanley is projecting $216.1 million in net losses for Formula One auto racing (FWONK) over the next 3 years. While team payouts (68% of profit) remain F1’s biggest combined expense, the financial services firm projects the racing organization’s single largest line item to be the $394.6 million annual amortization hit anticipated between now and 2020. The company is also on the hook for $515 million in interest payments (related to $5 billion in debt) over the same period. The Morgan Stanley report reflects F1 amortization and interest will exceed EBITDA by $115.2 million in ’18, $78.5 million in ’19 and $22.4 million in 2020. While private companies can massage earnings reports to show adjusted bottom line figures, public entities are required to follow fixed reporting standards; showing significant annual losses could negatively impact investor interest in FWONK.

Howie Long-Short: Formula One auto racing (FWONK) revenue declined (-$18 million, to $1.8 billion) in 2017, for just the second time in a decade, following the loss of (and inability to replace) the German Grand Prix and several key sponsors (see: Allianz, UBS). While F1 “shares are up nearly 20% since YE16”, if you exclude their 34% interest in Live Nation (LYV) “the F1 stub is actually up less than 5%.” As for the Morgan Stanley report, the net losses could actually be worse; their growth forecast has been called into question after a key source issued contradicting statements pertaining to increases in broadcast revenue.

Fan Marino: The Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix is in Austin in October. Rolling Stone is reporting a Bruno Mars (6 Grammy’s last month) tour stop at the Circuit of the America’s on October 20th; coincidentally the week of the race. Stevie Wonder, Taylor Swift and Elton John have performed at the track the past 3 years, headlining the weekend’s off-track events.

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National Championship Game 1st to Require Mobile Entry

College Football Playoff

Nearly all fans attending tonight’s national championship game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium will use an Apple iOS (AAPL) or Android device to enter the stadium; as Ticketmaster, the official partner of College Football Playoff, will only be issuing paper tickets to a small number of VIPs. The all SEC contest is the first significant U.S. sporting event to require mobile entry; fans will not have the option to print their own tickets. Ticketmaster (LYV) said it’s using mobile ticketing to “increase the safety (i.e. counterfeiting) and convenience of the ticketing process” and to expedite “mobile entry for fans.” Fans without mobile devices will have the option of visiting the box office and having their ticket printed for them.

Howie Long-Short: Stubhub said that Ticketmaster mandating mobile ticketing for the game, has resulted in less inventory; but, TicketIQ is reporting that they’ve seen 2x the amount of inventory (from last year) in the 3 days leading up to the game. In 2017, Stubhub increased its fees 1.5% to 21.8% per transaction; nearly 3x (7.7%) more than parent company eBay (EBAY) charged its sellers. Perhaps that has something to do with why inventory is down.

Fan Marino: Georgia HC Kirby Smart was a long-time assistant under Nick Saban (Alabama, LSU, Dolphins), but guys on Saban’s coaching tree haven’t fared well against their former boss; Saban has won the last 11 meetings over former assistants (Fisher, Dantonio, Muschamp, McElwain, Dooley).

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Ticketmaster Accused of Gouging Rugby Fans

Scottish rugby fans have accused The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) of failing to monitor (and ultimately stop) Ticketmaster, the official ticketing partner of the Six Nations Championship, from selling seats at inflated prices (and collecting exorbitant booking fees) on company owned secondary sites; Seatwave and GetMeIn! Tickets are listed for the more than 10x face value ($118 seats are selling for $2,500) and the perceived conflict of interest has forced the SRU to act. The rugby organization is reportedly speaking to Ticketmaster about removing seats from their secondary sites, while it explores launching a non-profit resale site of its own; where seats are resold at face value or below.

Howie Long-Short: Rare negative news of late, for the LYV subsidiary. Live Nation Entertainment reported its best Q3 of all-time, with the company’s ticketing segment reporting its strongest quarterly adjusted operating income ever. LYV also touted the the introduction of the first open source digital ticketing platform in sports (for NFL) and the increased scale of its Verified Fan product (expects to save fans $100 million in ’17); though clearly not to the scale needed to handle primary distribution of Six Nations Championship tickets.

Fan Marino: If Howie can discuss Scottish rugby, Chilean soccer is fair game. Turner Broadcasting (TWX) won the exclusive broadcast rights to Chilean soccer matches, for the next 15 years; with a $1.3 billion bid. Fox Sports (FOXA) was the favorite to land the rights, but a spokesman for the Chilean soccer commission said regulatory concerns stemming from the DIS deal “influenced the decision.” For comparison purposes, the Argentine Football Association accepted a 5 year $1.03 billion offer from Fox Sports Latin America in March.

Scots rugby bosses ‘failing fans’ over ticket resales with Six Nations briefs going for 10 times face value

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GumGum Helps Brands Understand Sponsorship Values

The New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans have signed season-long partnerships with GumGum Sports to help brands better understand the value of their team sponsorships. The artificial intelligence and computer vision company quantifies the exposure brand partners receive across television, streaming and social platforms; qualifying impressions by clarity, prominence and share of voice. Their proprietary methodology then assigns a dollar value to a given sporting event based on the cost of buying equivalent reach/engagement. The compressive sponsorship measurement tool enables brands to maximize ROI.

Howie Long-Short: GumGum Sports is a division of GumGum Visual Intelligence, a company that has raised $36 million dollars to date. The only public company to have invested in the in-image ad company though, has been Morgan Stanley (MS). Nielsen (NLSN) is also playing in the machine-learning sports media valuation space. The company acquired the Israeli competitor vBrand back in August.

Fan Marino: The Saints and Pelicans have had a busy November. Earlier in the month, the teams announced a partnership with SeatGeek; making the online ticketing company the primary ticketing platform of New Orleans sports, beginning next season. They become the first NFL & NBA teams to sign-on with the upstart company. Saints officials were recently quoted saying they were looking for a more fan-friendly, hassle-free ticketing experience; a dig at long-time partner Ticketmaster (LYV).

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Amazon’s Plans to Disrupt Ticketing Business Shelved

Amazon’s (AMZN) plans to disrupt the U.S. ticketing business have been shelved. U.S. promoters (i.e. Ticketmaster) pay lofty up-front fees for exclusive distribution rights; negating AMZN’s ability to use their size to crack the market. Ticketmaster (LYV) expressed interest in working with AMZN to unload distressed inventory, but AMZN was looking for the ability to provide Prime members with access to the best shows. Amazon Tickets is still operational in the U.K., as the country uses an open model that enables various platforms and companies to sell seats.

Howie Long-Short: Live Nation Entertainment, which owns Ticketmaster, reported its best Q3 of all-time; with concerts, advertising and ticketing segments all reporting their strongest quarterly adjusted operating income ever. LYV grew Q3 revenue 12% YOY (to $3.6 billion) and 19% over the first 9 months of 2017. The company also announced the introduction of the first open source digital ticketing platform in sports (for the NFL) and scaled its Verified Fan product (expects to save fans $100 million in ’17) during the most recent quarter. If AMZN can’t compete with them, nobody can; that won’t hurt Songkick’s pending anti-competition lawsuit against the company.

Fan Marino: Disappointing news for those who regularly attend games and concerts. Amazon intended on cutting the service and processing fees for Prime members; a change that would have resulted in a savings of +/- $15 for every $100 ticket purchased.


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SeatGeek and Facebook Announce Partnership

SeatGeek has announced that Facebook (FB) will become an official ticketing distribution partner; enabling leagues and teams to sell tickets to games, via SeatGeek, on the social network. Best known as a resale aggregator, SeatGeek will provide FB with a 3rd party API (SeatGeek Open) that will integrate directly with their ticketing interface; giving fans the ability to purchase tickets without ever leaving FB. MLS’ Sporting Kansas City is the first professional team to take advantage of the partnership, adding a “get tickets” icon for each game on their Facebook Events page.

Howie Long-Short: Facebook has similar distribution deals in place with Ticketmaster (LYV) and Eventbrite, so while this partnership isn’t exactly revolutionary, it is significant for SeatGeek. It means that SeatGeek can now sell event organizers on Facebook’s reach and their ability to “put tickets where fans are already spending their time online”. Sporting KC is the first, but they won’t be the last to take advantage of this sensible partnership.

Fan Marino: The average price of tickets to Game 6 of the World Series dropped 21% (to $1,044) after the Dodgers lost Sunday night’s Game 5, putting the team on the brink of elimination. Fans could get in to the building last night for as little as $394. That won’t be the case for tonight’s Game 7. The lowest priced ticket available on SeatGeek, as of midnight, was $1,215.

SeatGeek signs up Facebook as primary ticketing distributor

Editor Note: The summary for this story was written by our friends at The Water Coolest. Check out TheWaterCoolest.com for the latest market news and professional advice.

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Ticketmaster (LYV) has signed a 5-year extension with the NFL to provide the league with the “first open architecture, fully digital ticketing system in sports”. The platform utilizes Ticketmaster’s “Presence” software to track ticket-trading and the identify of attendees; while validating and authenticating seats purchased within other marketplaces. Ticketmaster will remain the NFL’s preferred primary ticketing partner and will continue to operate the league’s resale marketplace (NFL Ticket Exchange). Financial terms of the new deal were not disclosed, but it is expected that Ticketmaster will be paying more than the $200 million it paid on the expiring deal.

Howie Long-Short: As I noted yesterday, increased distribution leads to greater competition and ultimately lower prices. An open market best suits the fans’ interests. The NFL’s new ticketing system, open to other licensed marketplaces, gives fans the “broadest participation possible” from resellers. Great news for those who want to attend NFL games.

Fan Marino: Russia sold 2.6 million tickets to the 2018 World Cup, but not all those seats are within the stadium. FIFA requires World Cup venues hold a minimum of 35,000 people. 60-year-old Ekaterinburg Arena, a 2018 World Cup venues, apparently doesn’t. To maintain the historical façade of the stadium, organizers have decided against reconstruction and instead have chosen to comply by building a temporary seating structure outside the venue. You’ve got to see this to believe it.

Ticketmaster is taking NFL ticketing digital


NFL owners will meet today and vote on Ticketmaster’s (LYV) exclusive control of the league’s secondary ticket market, which runs through the 2018 season. Should owners vote to end the ticket sales and distribution company’s exclusive reign, teams would have the option to select their own ticketing partners. Ticketmaster would remain the league’s preferred primary provider, with incentives to utilize the platform, but teams would be given the freedom to choose their “official secondary” partner.

Howie Long-Short: Increased distribution leads to greater competition and ultimately lower prices. Ticket Club, a platform that combines spec selling with a no-fee subscription model, estimates that fans saved $20 million on 2016 Super Bowl tickets using secondary markets; as opposed to NFL on Location, the league’s primary market vendor. Here is to hoping NFL owners vote in the best interests of the fans and provide us with a true open market.

Fan Marino: Last week a couple of Minnesota Timberwolves season-ticket holders filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the team for switching to a mobile ticketing system that “fundamentally, and unlawfully, alters the way ticket holders may use and transfer tickets”. The Wolves want fans to exclusively use Flash Seats (owned by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert), sell their tickets for at least 75% of the face value and transfer the seats using the application. Those restrictions create a lose-lose proposition. Fans are unable to unload tickets; the seat sits empty which hurts the crowd atmosphere and the team loses out on potential in-stadium revenue.

NFL May Terminate Ticketmaster Monopoly