Ticketmaster Responds to Senate Letter Investigating Resale Controversy: Exclusive
President Jared Smith says TM "never allows ticket scalpers to buy tickets ahead of fans."
Ticketmaster president Jared Smith has responded to a letter from two U.S. senators asking questions about the company's resale business in the wake of an investigative report by the Toronto Star and the CBC into Ticketmaster's TradeDesk platform.
In his letter to Senators Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Smith says that Ticketmaster does not offer any tool or program that allows professional resellers to buy up tickets in bulk and says the company's TradeDesk software does not give resellers an advantage when buying tickets on the primary market.
"Ticketmaster does not have, and has never had, any product or program that allows ticket scalpers, or anyone else, to buy tickets ahead of fans and circumvent the policies we have on our site regarding on-line ticket purchasing limits," Smith writes in the four-page Oct. 5 letter.
Smith then goes on to answer four questions posed by the senators in their Sept. 21 letter to Michael Rapino, chief executive at Live Nation, which owns Ticketmaster, detailing the company's policies on purchase limits, TradeDesk user agreements and whether Ticketmaster’s Professional Reseller Handbook actually deters resellers from illegal activities. Smith's letter also discusses how the company enforces sales limits on its primary ticketing platform and the investment it has made in detecting and preventing scalpers from using automated programs like BOTs to buy up tickets.
"Through a combination of data science, enterprise grade software and new technologies, we are now blocking an average of 5 billion bot attempts per month, and over 60 billion per year," Smith writes, adding that Ticketmaster uses "username, e-mail address, physical address, payment method, computer and/or device used and IP address" to detect users attempting to go OTL -- over the ticket limit.
"Over the past 12 months, this process has blocked millions of OTL requests," Smith writes. "We continue to invest substantially to improve our technology, and in the coming months expect to add new tools and data points to further improve our OTL detection abilities."
The letter to the senators is part of Ticketmaster's ongoing response to an undercover video filmed by two Canadian journalists at Ticket Summit, which has led to two class action lawsuits and was a possible impetus for an upcoming Federal Trade Commission workshop in March 2019.
The first page of Jared Smith's letter is reprinted below. You can find the full four-page letter here.
October 5, 2018
Senator Jerry Moran
521 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Senator Richard Blumenthal
706 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510
Dear Senators Moran and Blumenthal:
I am writing in response to your letter dated September 21, 2018. As the President of Ticketmaster, I am best positioned to answer your questions.
Let me start by assuring you that Ticketmaster does not have, and has never had, any product or program that allows ticket scalpers, or anyone else, to buy tickets ahead of fans and circumvent the policies we have on our site regarding on-line ticket purchasing limits.
As you know, we were major proponents of the Better Online Ticket Sales (“BOTS”) Act, and we are grateful to you and the other members of the committee for your leadership and support on this important legislation. As we will describe below, we continue to make material investments in the spirit of the BOTS Act to make more tickets available to fans.
Thank you for this opportunity to address these important issues. I want to assure you that we take these issues seriously and that we are available to you and your staff for additional questions. We understand that the ticketing industry is a complex ecosystem, and we are continually learning and evolving our services to best meet the needs of fans, artists, sports teams, venues and sponsors.
Jared Smith President Ticketmaster