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Toutsout FanFair

FanFair is the driving force behind #toutsout campaign. Photo credit Kirsten Holst

A new consumer survey has revealed the depth of public concern with mass scale ticket touting taking place on so-called secondary ticketing platforms such as Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave.

Commissioned by FanFair Alliance, with support from UK companies See Tickets, The Ticket Factory and Twickets, its findings show that 80 per cent of the British public consider secondary ticketing to be a “rip off”.

Meanwhile, the majority of people who purchase above-face-value tickets on secondary platforms are less likely to spend money on other live events, on at-venue purchases (drink, food, merchandise) and on recorded music.

Other key findings include:

  • 52% of respondents said it was difficult to distinguish between authorised primary ticket sellers and unauthorised secondary sites
  • 43% of respondents said Google was their first port of call to search for tickets. This is despite previous FanFair research showing that secondary sites systematically pay to top search rankings. Viagogo has drawn particular criticism for advertising itself on Google as an “official site”
  • 58% of respondents said they supported the concept of face value resale
  • 82% of respondents said that secondary platforms should be more transparent and show more detail about the identity of those re-selling tickets
  • The vast majority of respondents support precautionary measures to prevent ticket touting, including the provision of authorised resale services (87%), limiting ticket purchases (80%), and personalised tickets with ID checks (75%)

Ticket resale market

“The debate around online ticket touting raises strong passions, so it’s important that the wider music business, politicians and regulators can get a sense of what the general public think,” said Adam Webb, FanFair Alliance campaign manager.

Webb said the message from this research is clear: UK audiences “are fed up”. “The model of secondary ticketing promoted by Viagogo, StubHub, Get Me In! and Seatwave is causing them very real concern – albeit, they are not against the concept of ticket resale.

“The majority would like the option to resell a ticket for the price they paid for it, and they’re in favour of measures to curb mass-scale online ticket touting. On that front, FanFair urges legislators and regulators to accelerate their endeavours to tackle the most egregious practices of the secondary market.”

Webb also noted that an increasing number of UK ticket companies are now offering face value resale services and that it’s becoming common practice for artists to implement anti-touting strategies.

“This is hugely encouraging, although there remains a deep-rooted resistance from some parts of the live business that needs to be overcome,” Webb explained. “For while the status quo might bring short-term gains to certain companies, there is a real danger that their intransigence will cause considerable long-term damage – not only to the live music sector, but across the music business overall.”

The research comes on the back of considerable political and regulatory pressure to make ticket resale work better for British audiences. In April 2017, Government passed new legislation to criminalise the mass online harvesting of tickets by touts, as well as new measures to bolster existing UK consumer law and provide enforcement resources for National Trading Standards.

Amidst two evidence sessions into “ticket abuse”, Damian Collins MP, chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, described the UK’s secondary ticketing market as a “national scandal”. Despite being invited, Viagogo failed to show to the second of these sessions.

A Competition and Markets Authority enforcement investigation into online secondary ticketing, announced in December 2016, remains ongoing.

The survey was conducted by AudienceNet, a full service social and consumer research agency alongside music industry consultancy Music Ally.

The FanFair Alliance was established to unite members of music and creative community who wish to take a stand against industrial-scale online ticket touting.

The full report can be downloaded from the FanFair Alliance website.