Which? reveals event ticket over-pricing

Consumer advice company Which? revealed on Friday that it has found evidence that fans are finding it difficult to buy event tickets at face value and are being ripped off by secondary ticketing websites.

Tickets for the majority of UK events are released through the venue or through primary ticket websites such as Ticketmaster and See Tickets. However, when tickets from these sources are all sold, fans increasingly have to pay more for their tickets on the secondary market, where tickets are sold at a mark-up price. Originally, the secondary market was used as a fan-to-fan exchange where anyone could resell tickets.

Which? said it monitored four of the biggest secondary ticketing websites over eight weeks and discovered that these sites have attracted touts who operate on a large scale. The Which? investigation also indicated that certain ticket sites may be acting like touts.

Secondary ticketing sites Seatwave, Viagogo StubHub! and Get Me In! were monitored by Which? from August to October 2015. It found that tickets appeared on re-sale sites before they were officially released, or simultaneously on primary and re-sale sites. For example, StubHub! had 364 tickets on sale for Rod Stewart’s UK tour the day before the presale began. For the same tour, 450 tickets were available on Get Me In! as soon as the presale began on the primary site, two days later this had increased to 2,305 tickets.

The Which? research also showed that there were suspicious ticket release patterns. It looked at each of the 28 Riverdance tour dates and discovered eight tickets on sale on the Get Me In! site within a minute of an O2 Priority presale, with each listing having exactly the same price structure.

In addition, restrictions on re-sales were being ignored. Which? found that Viagogo listed tickets for Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet at the Barbican, despite the venue imposing strict resale restrictions and asking for photo ID on the door. Tickets were priced at up to £1,500, compared to the original face value of £62.50.

Which? added that it isn’t illegal to resell tickets for profit, apart from football tickets without express permission from the club, but it believes that some of the selling patterns it encountered are made possible through the use of ‘botnet’ software, which is used by touts to harvest large amounts of tickets as soon as they go on sale.

Fans of popular shows are often left with no choice but to find tickets on the secondary market, with sellers regularly listing tickets at three or four times the face value. Which? stated that it even saw tickets with a 1,760% mark-up. In addition, the sites charge admin fees. Get Me In! charge buyers 15% to 18%, while fees at Seatwave, Viagogo and StubHub! vary depending on the event and ticket type. All four sites take a further 10% to 12% from the seller in admin or ‘success’ fees.

The evidence compiled by Which? has been sent to the Department of Culture Media and Sport as part of an investigation it is carrying out into secondary ticketing.

Sports Direct acquires 51% stake in designer fashion retailer Flannels

British sports and leisure clothing and equipment group Sports Direct International Plc (LON:SPD) said it had taken a 51% interest in domestic luxury and designer fashion retailer Flannels Group Ltd, without giving financial details.

The deal will add to Sports Direct’s Cruise and Van Milder businesses within its premium lifestyle division, CEO Dave Forsey said.

The Financial Times cited Forsey as saying that his company viewed the luxury fashion market as a great opportunity. Flannels would also benefit from having a larger player as parent company, Forsey said, adding he could not yet elaborate on how the luxury retailer would change as part of Sports Direct.

Neil Prosser who founded Flannels in 1976, will stay on as managing director and keep the remaining 49% stake in the business. The chain sells designer clothing, shoes and accessories of brands such as Dolce & Gabbana, Lanvin and Moncler. It has six stores in northern England, the Midlands and Wales with locations in Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, Liverpool, Birmingham and Cardiff.

Sports Direct’s Sportsdirect.com retail group comprises more than 470 stores operating under the names SportsDirect.com, Sports World, Field & Trek, Hargreaves Sports, Gilesports and Donnay International, as well as shops in Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Slovenia. It sells top brands including Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Umbro and Fila, as well as Everlast, Lonsdale, Dunlop, Slazenger and Karrimor.

London-listed sports content firm Perform agrees to acquire Swiss rival RunningBall

British multimedia sports content distributor Perform Group plc (LON:PER) said on Wednesday it will take over Swiss real-time sports data provider RunningBall Holding AG for a maximum of EUR120m (USD152.5m) in cash and stock.

The move will boost the number of licensees Perform has, as well as the average number of events which are currently acquired by its existing ones. The group’s directors believe that the combination of its own sports editorial and video products with RunningBall’s sports data will improve the buyer’s solid growth prospects significantly.
The transaction is seen to build on the group’s earnings and EPS in both 2012 and 2013.

Under the terms of the deal, a unit of Perform will acquire the two holding companies of RunningBall for an initial amount of EUR70m, including EUR20m in cash and 13.5m new ordinary shares. Furthermore, the group will make an additional cash payment of between EUR31m and EUR50m, based on a nine times multiple to the target company’s audited EBITDA for 2012.

The buyer intends to use its existing cash resources to fund the cash portion of the initial consideration, while the deferred amount will be financed from new debt facilities.

Last year, RunningBall produced real-time data coverage of more than 35,000 sporting events and expects to increase this figure to 40,000 in 2012. The firm has operational centres in Austria, Portugal, Cyprus and Malaysia with over 1,100 scouts in more than 70 countries. It booked an EBITDA of EUR7.2m on a revenue of EUR16.1m in 2011.