Amazon garnered big headlines this summer when stories began to crop up on the company’s plan to disrupt ticketing in the U.S., even leading to a small dip in Live Nation’s share price.
But after a mostly unsuccessful year trying to get its U.S. ticketing platform off the ground, Amazon officials are largely abandoning the effort, Amplify has learned. The failure to get a deal with Ticketmaster, coupled with the limited opportunities for the company due to Ticketmaster’s venue contracts and exclusivity model, have Amazon quietly shutting down parts of the effort.
According to our sources, the company is no longer pursuing ticketing deals, although many believe Amazon could re-enter the market if conditions change. A spokesperson for Amazon told Amplify the company had no comment for this story.
In the United Kingdom, Amazon Tickets is still operational and selling tickets for Hyde Park, the O2 and Royal Albert Hall. The U.K., and much of Europe, utilizes an open distribution model for ticketing where promoters allocate tickets to multiple sales platforms and companies to assist with selling tickets. In the U.S., though, companies like Ticketmaster, AXS, Ticketfly and See Tickets adhere to an exclusivity system where ticketers pay big upfront fees to venues for the rights to exclusively sell tickets to customers.
That’s made it very difficult for Amazon to use its size and scale to pressure Ticketmaster into working with the online retail giant. As I reported in Billboard in August, Amazon was considering a plan that would slash service fees in exchange for an annual membership, possibly as part of its popular Prime offering.
“This has always been about doing deals with all [ticketing] platforms to pull inventory and help content owners allocate tickets,” one source familiar with Amazon’s efforts told me in August. “It’s not about building a box-office software suite.”
Ticketmaster’s response — thanks, but we don’t need your help. Sources tell Amplify that TM was interested in partnering with Amazon to sell distressed inventory and other slow-selling seats — similar to arrangements it had with partners like Groupon and Gametime — but did not need help selling tickets for hot shows like Beyonce, U2 and Coldplay. That offer was less interesting to Amazon — company officials wanted to be able to offer Prime customers deals on the best tickets, not shows that were selling slowly.
Couple that with resistance by Amazon to sharing information on its massive customer base — it’s estimated that 85 million people are Prime members — and the recent exits of top executives Geraldine Wilson, Amazon UK’s GM of tickets, and Jason Carter, Amazon Prime live events director, and it proved impossible to get a deal done.
“If Amazon wants to come into the market, then they will have to negotiate directly with artists, venues and sports teams,” Macquarie analyst Amy Yong told me in August. “Beyond that, I’m not sure what they could add to an already-frictionless experience.”