Nov 22, 2022 - News

Ticketmaster blames bots, demand for ticket issues

A Ticketmaster website displayed on a computer screen. Photo illustration: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

As local Taylor Swift fans recover from the whiplash of vying for tickets to her Nashville concerts, Ticketmaster is seeking to explain the debacle that provoked consumer outrage and legal scrutiny for the company last week.

Driving the news: Ticketmaster canceled the public on-sale for Swift's shows in Nashville and other venues across the country after a week of technical glitches.

  • In a lengthy statement Friday, Ticketmaster attributed the problems to a "staggering number of bot attacks" as well as "unprecedented traffic on our site, resulting in 3.5 billion total system requests."
  • Tennessee Attorney General John Skrmetti says he has opened an inquiry into Ticketmaster after the ticket fiasco. Attorneys general representing states across the country then followed his lead.

Be smart: Bots are the term for specialized computer software that helps ticket scalpers fraudulently buy tickets for resale.

  • Tennessee has a state law on the books to combat the use of bot software.
  • Ticketmaster says it used a "verified fan" system to make sure real humans (not bots) were trying to buy tickets, and that its efforts to fight bots led to fewer Swift concert tickets landing on secondary markets. Critics have questioned Ticketmaster's ties to the secondary market.

The latest: U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn played a leading role in passing bipartisan legislation in 2016 to ban the use of bots nationwide.

Zoom out: If scalpers using bots helped clog the ticket-buying process for Swift's concerts, it could add yet another legal dimension to a situation that put Ticketmaster in the crosshairs.

Yes, but: Anti-bot laws have proven extremely difficult to enforce. There aren't any known prosecutions under Tennessee's law.

The other side: In its corporate response last week, Ticketmaster and Live Nation dismissed the concerns raised by Skrmetti and others about a monopoly.

  • The company argued it is abiding by the federal rules in place to prevent anti-competitive practices from hurting consumers.
  • Less than 5% of tickets were sold or posted for resale on secondary markets, Ticketmaster says. By comparison, between 20% and 30% are resold for concerts that don't use the verified fan system, the company says.
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