Live Nation, the largest U.S. operator of concert venues, said Thursday that its first-quarter loss widened in part because fewer people attended concerts in its core North America market.

Live Nation Inc., which is planning to merge with Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc., reported a loss of $102.7 million, or $1.29 per share.

That compares with a loss of $37.2 million, or 50 cents per sharep, in the year-ago quarter, which had been bolstered by 42 cents per share of income from the sale of its North American theatrical business, motor sports division and a business related to producing and selling concert DVDs.

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters were expecting a loss of 74 cents per share.

The Beverly Hills, Calif.-based company said revenue fell 6% to $499.3 million, below analyst expectations of $561.8 million.

North American music revenue declined 4% to $322.2 million as attendance fell 23% to 4.2 million compared with last year.

Attendance at international concerts rose 17% to 3 million, but changes in foreign exchange rates erased those gains. For example, if a concertgoer buys a ticket using a currency that is weaker than the dollar, that transaction would translate into fewer dollars for Live Nation. Thus, international music revenue fell 7% to $151.4 million.

Revenue per fan climbed nearly 6%, though, to $66.50.

The number of Live Nation sponsors dropped 42% to 304 from 528, but total sponsorship revenue climbed 17% to $21 million and the average per-sponsor revenue more than doubled to $69,000.

Live Nation noted that as of March it had $696.2 million in deferred revenue — sales for summer concerts and other events that have yet to take place. That's higher than $560.4 million in the year-ago quarter.

The company sold 4.2 million tickets through a new ticketing platform launched in January after ending a long-term contract last year to sell concert tickets through Ticketmaster, the world's biggest seller of tickets to concerts and shows.

The end of that agreement looked to cut into at least 15% of Ticketmaster's revenue and put the two companies into fierce competition for ticketing contracts. In February, though, the two parties said they agreed to merge.

The companies have said they are cooperating with Department of Justice requests for information regarding their proposed merger. Artists have expressed worries that the deal would result in a near-monopoly on ticket sales to big concerts.

Live Nation said Thursday that it still believes the merger will be completed during the second half of the year.

The company's shares fell 6 cents in after-hours trading, after finishing regular trading down 37 cents, or 6.7%, at $5.14.