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Facebook offering tickets with Ticketmaster, ScoreBig, others

January 18, 2012 |  6:00 pm

Ticketmaster Facebook

Five major ticket sellers, including Ticketmaster, StubHub, ScoreBig, Eventbrite and TicketFly, launched an online store on Facebook Wednesday night -- all hoping to tap into the social network's 800 million users to boost sales.

The announcement is part of Facebook's ambitious plan, unveiled in September, to become an entertainment hub for its users, an online touchstone for discovering new bands, watching the latest viral videos, finding local concerts, and organizing friends for a night out on the town.

That extension, from online socializing to real-world get-togethers, is what live entertainment companies such as Ticketmaster and ScoreBig want to capitalize on. 

"Today’s launch marks a new frontier for fans of live events," said Adam Kanner, chief executive of ScoreBig, an online name-your-bid ticketing company based in Hollywood. "Our members and their Facebook friends will now have a much more robust experience discovering live events.” 

Ticketmaster also has high hopes for its Facebook storefront. Already, the company is among the world’s largest e-commerce sites, selling billions of dollars worth of tickets through its online platform each year. But the Beverly Hills ticketing giant thinks it can do even better by leveraging social media to get people to go out more.

Its Facebook application, for example, looks at each user's list of favorite bands or genre of music, as well as their approximate location, to recommend upcoming concerts in their area.

"We can use that data to make targeted recommendations about what people want to go see," said Kip Levin, Ticketmaster's executive vice president of e-commerce. Levin and other ticketing industry executives estimate that about half of concert seats go empty simply because fans weren't aware the bands were in town.

"It’s really about focusing on the online fan experience and making it easier for them to learn when their favorite band is coming to town, organize with their friends and paying for it," Levin said.

Media analysts say the move to social networks is a no-brainer for companies such as Ticketmaster.

"In any business, when you can take your business directly to where 800 million people are already congregating, it’s a good move," said James McQuivey, a senior analyst at Forrester Research in Cambridge, Mass.

The shift to social media carries a risk for Ticketmaster, whose brand is among the most reviled among consumers. Its young, charismatic chief executive, Nathan Hubbard, said at a San Francisco conference in November: "People want to eat my kids, they're so angry." 

But Hubbard is forging ahead, putting the company out on Twitter and Facebook in hopes of repairing its reputation and winning over customers. 

"People say they hate a lot of things -- advertising, arrogant newspaper reporters and Ticketmaster," McQuivey said. "But the fact is, they still need and value those things. Ticketmaster doesn’t need to win your hearts. They just need to win your mouse clicks." 


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-- Alex Pham