The incident led Ticketmaster to become the target of immense vitriol from Swift’s fans and lawmakers, who leveled accusations of antitrust violations and called for restrictions on the company’s dominance.
It also prompted the Senate Judiciary Committee to convene this week’s hearing on competition issues in the ticketing industry. In addition to Berchtold, witnesses include Jack Groetzinger, CEO of Ticketmaster rival SeatGeek; Jerry Mickelson, who runs Chicago-based Jam Productions; and musician Clyde Lawrence, who was outspoken against Ticketmaster.
Berchtold points out in his remarks that the pirates failed to obtain tickets illegally.
“While the bots failed to penetrate our systems or acquire tickets, the attack forced us to slow down and even suspend our sales,” Berchtold will say. In his testimony, Berchtold describes an “arms race” between companies like Ticketmaster and scalpers and cybercriminals seeking to illegally obtain tickets to resell them, and apologized to Swift and fans for the consumer experience .
Berchtold will also say that the company could have taken other steps to improve sales as well: “In hindsight, we could have done a number of things better, including staggering sales over a longer period of time and doing a better job of setting expectations fans to get tickets.
Two people familiar with the cyberattack, who were granted anonymity to speak about the incident ahead of the hearing, said a culprit in the attack – which took the company several hours to tackle – n has not yet been identified. They said Ticketmaster reported the attempted attack to the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI, who are investigating the incident.
The FTC and FBI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Ticketmaster wasn’t the only one having trouble with Swift ticket sales. Five of the 52 gigs were sold by SeatGeek, which also experienced technical difficulties.
“Ticketmaster’s outage, recovery time and continued lack of a solution are the result of monopoly complacency,” SeatGeek said in a statement. “Live Nation/Ticketmaster have eliminated competition in the space, particularly around Verified Fan, but also more broadly across their entire ticketing solution. No competition means no incentive to innovate and solve the problems we they have met in the past.”
SeatGeek said its customers sometimes had “long wait times and in some cases temporary credit card charges, which we’re not proud of, but thanks to a more modern technical architecture, we were able to bring changes to the real-time user experience to allow fans to continue purchasing tickets.
Disclosure of the cyberattack is unlikely to dispel antitrust pressure from the company.
“I anticipate that Senator Lee will focus on antitrust policy during this hearing,” said Lee Lonsberry, the senator’s spokesman. mike lee (R-Utah), the senior member of the Judiciary Committee’s antitrust subcommittee. Lonsberry said the Justice Department’s decision to clear the 2010 merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster will be a key topic of Tuesday’s hearing. As part of a settlement with the DOJ, the companies agreed not to discriminate against competitors. In late 2019, Ticketmaster agreed to extend the terms of the settlement through 2025 after the DOJ accused the company of violating the agreement.
Ever since the problems with the Swift tour, Ticketmaster critics have used the issue as evidence of a company with no real competition and, therefore, little motivation to deliver quality service.
Berchtold will tell Congress that the ticketing industry has never been more competitive than it is today. “Ticketmaster has lost, not gained, market share, and every year competitive bidding results in ticketing companies getting less economic value in a ticketing contract, while venues and teams get more. any further.”
Berchtold will also urge Congress to review the BOTS Act of 2016 to ensure it allows private companies like Ticketmaster to bring civil lawsuits against people who resell tickets obtained by bots. He will also seek federal legislation requiring consumers to know the full price of their tickets early in the sales process.
“In this forum where we are here to discuss public policy, we must also recognize how industrial scalpers who break the law by using bots and cyberattacks to try to unfairly obtain tickets contribute to an appalling consumer experience,” Berchtold will testify.
Ticketmaster and its parent company Live Nation Entertainment are also facing a Justice Department antitrust investigation, but one that precedes the Swift debacle. The companies are the subject of antitrust scrutiny dating back to the dispute between Ticketmaster and rock band Pearl Jam in the 1990s and a related DOJ antitrust investigation, as well as the 2010 merger between the two companies.