The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said that following its lengthy investigation into the $4 billion merger of the UK’s two biggest secondary ticketing operators, Viagogo and StubHub, Viagogo must sell all of StubHub’s business outside North America due to competition concerns.
Viagogo acquired StubHub in February 2020. The CMA said the merging of Viagogo and eBay-owned StubHub, which collectively represent 90% of the UK’s ticket re-sale market, would potentially result in higher prices and reduced choice for consumers.
This decisions means StubHub international business – including in the UK – will need to be independently owned and run by a separate company, with no input from Viagogo.
The CMA said it will determine key conditions of the sale, such as the right of the purchaser to use the StubHub brand for the next 10 years. The CMA will also need to approve the purchaser of the business before any sale.
Adam Webb of anti-ticket touting campaigner FanFair Alliance said the most pertinent question following the decision will be the identity of potential buyers: “Practically all of StubHub’s value is in the company’s North American operation. Aside from the acquisition costs, anyone wishing to operate a successful uncapped ticket resale business in the UK would require two things: significant relationships with large-scale ticket touts to supply inventory, and deep enough pockets to outspend Viagogo on Google search advertising.
“That might be good for Google, and it might be good for ticket touts, but we need a conclusion that’s good for UK consumers, and stops them being ripped off.”
Sharon Hodgson MP, the co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Ticket Abuse welcomed the news but called for regulation of the secondary ticketing sector: “This will give no relief to the tens of thousands of fans who have already been ripped off by these websites, or those who may fall victim to their parasitical business models in the future.
“We now need to see the secondary ticket market properly regulated so consumers can once again trust the platforms they use. That means limits on advertising and immediate and tough action as soon as evidence is brought forward of consumer law being broken.”