December 29, 2006, 12:00 AM

Event and movie ticket sales steadily moving online

“There is no question that all signs are pointing to the online world of reselling tickets to meet the clearly huge consumer demand,” says Ticketmaster president and COO Sean Moriarty. “The trend has been established. The consumer has spoken.”

Today, instead of having to stand in line-sometimes for hours-or wait on the phone to buy tickets to events and movies, many consumers are sitting comfortably for just a few minutes purchasing tickets online. And a steadily increasing number of event attendees and moviegoers are doing so as they become more comfortable with buying online and become aware of some advantages to securing tickets via the Internet.

In addition to the speed and ease of buying online, one advantage web buyers have, for example, is the chance at getting the best seats for events. This is because huge blocks of tickets are reserved for artists, promoters and others, all of whom commonly sell many unneeded tickets-for some of the best seats in the house-in the secondary ticket market via the web.

The growth of the web sales channel for tickets and the opportunities to be a player in the secondary market by leveraging the Internet have profoundly changed the face of event and movie ticket selling, experts say. The past three years have been marked by great decentralization of the tickets industry, says Don Vaccaro, CEO of TicketLiquidator.com, a secondary market seller.

“A few years back, the majority of tickets were controlled by a couple companies,” Vaccaro says. “The Internet has helped new players build a presence and acquire more and more tickets from those companies and venues; it has enabled more competitors to take root in the market and grab market share. Now there are many players battling against each other and consequently becoming extremely efficient.”

Advantages like giving consumers access to better seats, more personal customer service and the ability to resell tickets they cannot use are giving secondary market sellers, many of which are web-only, an edge over the more established primary market ticket brokers, the handful of behemoths that are first in line when tickets are issued, many industry observers say. Although primary market brokers sell the most tickets and to the widest array of events, their monolithic customer service is being challenged by smaller, secondary sellers, showing that just like in Internet retailing and other industries, bigger is not necessarily better.

The primary market giants, however, are not blind to the changes in the industry. They are responding with a variety of tactics aimed at competing with secondary players on their own turf. Primary market multi-channel seller Ticketmaster, for example, recently launched a secondary market pure-play online seller, Ticketexchange.

“We are at the beginning of the middle of a huge change in the ticket selling industry,” says Ticketmaster president and COO Sean Moriarty. “There is no question that all signs are pointing to the online world of reselling tickets to meet the clearly huge consumer demand. The trend has been established. The consumer has spoken.”

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