Ticketmaster antitrust case is box-office for frustrated concert-goers

US legal move seeks the break-up of parent company Live Nation

You could have sold tickets to this week’s US department of justice press conference, even if Ticketmaster were the ones selling them.

Moves are afoot there to dismantle its parent company Live Nation, which officials described as a competition-suffocating monopoly.

“It is time to break up Live Nation-Ticketmaster,” US attorney-general Merrick Garland announced, sounding a tone that will ring true with many a frustrated concertgoer.

It is far too soon to know what this might mean for customers in Ireland, if anything, but it will strike a chord – the online ticket dispensary is not always popular.


In its last annual customer service survey of Irish brands published by the CX Company, Ticketmaster plummeted 11 per cent, the second biggest recorded drop. CX chief executive Cathy Summers put it down to issues with trying to purchase Taylor Swift and Coldplay tickets. It can be “extremely frustrating for customers”, she said.

In Ireland Live Nation also owns the 3Arena, promoter MCD and various related businesses. It is behind the Electric Picnic and Longitude festivals.

Accounts filed earlier this year showed its Irish holding company lost €6.3 million in 2022, against a deficit of just €1 million the previous year, when Covid curbs would have hindered its main businesses. Turnover for the year almost quadrupled to €4.3 million.

Whatever event Irish people go to, there is a good chance they went via Ticketmaster. In 2020, a Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) investigation found that from 2012 to 2018, the entertainment company had more than 90 per cent of the Irish market.

And now, US authorities have accused Live Nation of operating a monopoly there that “suffocates its competition”, in a landmark antitrust case pursuing its break-up. Its shares fell on Thursday on foot of the announcement.

“Fans pay more in fees, artists have fewer opportunities to play concerts, smaller promoters get squeezed out and venues have fewer real choices for ticketing services”, as a result of its dominance, said Mr Garland.

Live Nation Entertainment said the monopoly allegations were “absurd” but this show will keep a captive audience.