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Marketplace Report: Auctioning Off Hot Tickets

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Marketplace Report: Auctioning Off Hot Tickets

Business

Marketplace Report: Auctioning Off Hot Tickets

Marketplace Report: Auctioning Off Hot Tickets

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Ticketmaster is taking a page from the Internet to combat scalpers — the ticket-selling company will now auction off seats to the highest bidder for the most popular shows. Madeleine Brand speaks with Bob Moon of Marketplace about the sometimes controversial business strategy.

MADELEINE BRAND, Host:

Back now with DAY TO DAY. If you're planning to go to a concert this summer, you'll soon have a new way to get the best seats. Ticketmaster, the leading seller of tickets, is now letting customers bid on seats in an online auction. The company wants to fight back against online scalpers and outside ticket brokers. MARKETPLACE New York Bureau Chief, Bob Moon, joins us now. And Bob, does this mean they're no better than the scalpers if they're auctioning off tickets to the highest bidder?

BOB MOON reporting:

Good question, Madeleine, and some fans have been asking exactly that ever since Ticketmaster first started talking about these plans last year. This is going to mean that the best seats are available only through this online auction, with fans bidding up the price as high as it can go. Ticketmaster argues this has already been going on for quite a while now, over on eBay and Craigslist and other websites and it just wants to recapture, if you will, some of the profit and return it to the artists and the promoters. Of course, Ticketmaster gets a cut as well, either a flat service fee or a percentage of the winning bids. That's negotiated with the promoters of each concert or event.

As a matter of fact, though, this is a practice that's really exploded online. If you manage to buy these tickets when they first go on sale, it can take only a matter of minutes for them to sell out, and then it's just an easy thing to go on eBay where speculators can resell them for hundreds more than they bought them for in many cases. Just to give you an idea of how big this is, you type in a search over on eBay, just the word ticket, and here are the matches. Under the category Event Tickets, right now there are 53,740 showing up. So Ticketmaster says it's only fair that it gets into this business.

BRAND: Wow. 53,000. So which concert tours are we talking about, all of them?

MOON: This is a story on USA Today. It's reporting the auctions will include Madonna, Shakira, Kelly Clarkson, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bon Jovi. They did some checking on a concert here in New York at Madison Square Garden this September by a former Pink Floyd composer Roger Waters. Those tickets are going on other sites for as high as $4,600.

BRAND: So Bob, this doesn't really sound like a good deal for consumers. Sounds like ticket prices could go up.

MOON: They could. In fact, some experts who've studied this say that this is going to ripple throughout the industry and effect everybody because it really does show what the actual ticket price will bear, what the market will bear for these tickets.

Today in the MARKETPLACE Newsroom, we're watching the latest moves to create the world's first transatlantic stock market.

BRAND: Okay, well thank you, Bob. Bob Moon of Public Radio's daily business show, MARKETPLACE. It's produced by American Public Media.

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