• Market Crumbs

Entertainment Industry Caves To Pressure

Image via Yvette de Wit on Unsplash

The ticketing industry has long faced criticism. Whether its the exorbitant fees you have to pay on top of the ticket price or allegations of tickets going to scalpers before fans, the industry as a whole does not have a good reputation.

The reputation of the industry fell further recently as thousands of events were postponed and cancelled as a result of COVID-19. With shows postponed, fans were unable to get refunds on their tickets.

Last week, New York lawmakers opened an investigation into Ticketmaster after the company revamped its refund policy to exclude postponed events. The policy change meant refunds would only be guaranteed for events that are cancelled. Ticketmaster also received criticism from members of Congress.

"People across the country are having to make adjustments in their lives to keep everyone safe. Ticketmaster can do its part by giving people their money back," Congress member Katie Porter said. "Let's be clear: they can do this without government action, and they can do it today. Ticketmaster should do the right thing and stop trying to profit off a pandemic."

Apparently the pressure was enough to cause the entertainment industry to cave. Ticketmaster and events promoter Live Nation will now refund customers who purchased tickets to events that have been postponed.

On May 1, Ticketmaster customers will be emailed to initiate a full refund. If they do not request a refund within 30 days, their ticket will be valid for the rescheduled date. Live Nation will also offer refunds or options such as a ticket credit or the ability to donate their tickets to health care workers. AEG, which is the second-largest events promoter in the world after Live Nation, will offer returns under the same terms as Live Nation.

"For cancelled shows, refunds will be automatically processed within 30 days, unless fans voluntarily opt into other programs," Live Nation said. "Live Nation venues will offer fans an option to receive a 150% credit for the value of their tickets to be used for a future Live Nation show. Fans will also be able to donate the proceeds of their refund to a charity to give concert tickets to health care workers, with Live Nation matching ticket donations."

The issue Ticketmaster faces from a business standpoint is the funds from ticket sales are not held by the company, but rather passed along to clients—such as Live Nation and AEG, who in turn pay deposits to the agents who book the shows.

Ticketmaster has so far cancelled or postponed 30,000 events worth $2 billion in ticket sales. With more than 25,000 events still scheduled for the year, Ticketmaster expects additional events to be cancelled or postponed and will offer refunds on a rolling basis.

With no one knowing when large scale events such as concerts and sporting events will return, this nightmare scenario for the industry is likely to linger for quite some time.

Leftover Crumbs

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  • M&A hits a wall. Last week, no M&A deals valued at more than $1 billion were announced for the first time since September 2014, according to Refinitiv. Global M&A volume is down 33% from the same period last year, with the total deal value of $762.6 billion marking the lowest for this point of the year since 2013. However, there may be something for investment bankers to be optimistic about. A survey by EY found that 56% executives surveyed globally are planning an acquisition in the next 12 months.

  • They're giving it back. Shake Shack is returning the $10 million loan it received as part of the CARES Act following public outcry. The company claims they no longer need the funds as they were able to raise $150 million in an equity offering last week. "We're fortunate to now have access to capital that others do not. Until every restaurant that needs it has had the same opportunity to receive assistance, we're returning ours," Shake Shack said.

  • Like buying stocks? International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said the IMF may need "exceptional measures" to deal with the economic fallout from COVID-19. "The IMF, like our member countries, may need to venture even further outside our comfort zone to consider whether exceptional measures might be needed in this exceptional crisis," Georgieva said.

  • Alibaba is going to the cloud. Alibaba will invest more than $28 billion in its cloud computing division over the next three years to take on Amazon and Microsoft. Alibaba, which is the largest cloud computing provider in China, will invest in infrastructure and technologies related to operating systems, servers, chips and networks. "The Covid-19 pandemic has posed additional stress on the overall economy across sectors, but it also steers us to put more focus on the digital economy," president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence Jeff Zhang said.