Taylor Swift Ticketmaster fiasco blamed demand, bots says Liberty Media CEO

The demand for Taylor Swift concert tickets has exceeded all expectations, says the CEO of Liberty Media

Now we have bad bots.

The CEO of Liberty Media, Live nation largest shareholder, defended the promoter against calls that it should be disbanded for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour following a storm of glitches and site failures during this week’s Ticketmaster presale.

Live Nation understands fans who couldn’t get tickets, Greg Maffei said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” Thursday. “It’s a feature of Taylor Swift. The page should open to 1.5 million verified Taylor Swift fans. We had 14 million visitors to the site, including bots that weren’t supposed to be there.”

Maffei said Ticketmaster sold more than 2 million tickets Tuesday and demand for Swift “could have filled 900 stadiums.”

“This exceeded all expectations,” he said, explaining that a lot of the demand centered on the fact that Swift hasn’t been touring since 2018’s “Reputation” stadium tour.

Liberty Media owns interests in a variety of media and entertainment interests. On Thursday, it announced that it would spin off Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves into asset-backed stock. Liberty also said it would create a new stock called Liberty Live, which will include its stake in Live Nation.

Live Nation, which merged with Ticketmaster in 2010, has long been criticized for its size and power in the entertainment industry. People compounded their complaints this week as tickets for Taylor Swift’s upcoming Eras tour went on presale on Ticketmaster’s website. The company was forced to extend the pre-sale after fans flocked to the site, causing disruption on the site and long queues.

Maffei also defended Live Nation against concerns from lawmakers and activists that Ticketmaster and Live Nation are abusing their market power. A staunch opponent of the company’s decades-old merger was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, DN.Y, who tweeted Tuesday that Live Nation and Ticketmaster were to be separated.

“Interestingly, while AOC may not like every element of our business, AEG, our competitor, Taylor Swift’s promoter, chose us because we are, in reality, the largest and most effective ticket seller in the world,” Maffei said. “Even our competitors want to come to our platform.”

Activists argue that because Live Nation controls 70% of the ticketing and live events market, competitors have little choice where to sell their tickets, and have urged the Justice Department to reverse the 2010 merger.

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