Losses at Live Nation Entertainment grew in the first quarter as concert attendance slipped 3 percent and the company booked costs related to its recent merger with Ticketmaster.
The company also said Monday it was considering “strategic options” for its controversial ticket resale site, TicketsNow. The site got into hot water after it sold marked-up tickets to Bruce Springsteen fans last year, despite regular face value tickets still being available.
Aside from a refund it agreed to with federal regulators, the company was pushed by New Jersey authorities to cut links between TicketsNow and the main Ticketmaster site, causing business to wither.
The site had made about $15 million operating profit per year in resale fees; now it is making about $1 million or $2 million per year, Chief Executive Michael Rapino told analysts on a conference call.
“The minute we had to unlink from our website that business over the last year has deteriorated,” Rapino said. “So we’re looking at strategic options for that division.”
Live Nation’s net loss in the January-March period grew to $112 million, or 76 cents per share. That compares with a loss of $103 million, or $1.29 per share, a year earlier.
Revenue grew 49 percent to $723 million, mainly by adding the two companies together.
Special charges included a $13.4 million charge related to artist advances, a $4.5 million loss on the mandated sale of ticket-seller Paciolan to Philadelphia sports venue operator Comcast-Spectacor and a $19.3 million charge for executive compensation related to the merger.
Rapino said the company is on track to save $40 million this year as it reaps the benefits of joining forces. Most of the savings will come from layoffs.
The concert promoter, artist manager, venue owner and now ticketing company completed its merger Jan. 25 after a yearlong antitrust review by both U.S. and international governments.
The results included Ticketmaster’s operations from the merger date on.
Concert attendance fell to 6.8 million from 7.1 million a year ago, while the total spending per concertgoer grew 2 percent to $59.71 from $58.57.
Shares in Live Nation, which is based in Los Angeles, fell 17 cents to $14.65 in after-hours trading Monday, after closing up $1.02, or 7.4 percent, at $14.82.