Ticketmaster’s largest shareholder blames massive demand — including from bots — on Taylor Swift tickets fiasco

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Now we have bad bots.

The CEO of Liberty Media, Live Nation’s largest shareholder, defended the event organizer against calls that it should be broken up after a storm of glitches and site failures during Ticketmaster’s presale this week for Taylor Swift’s upcoming tour.

Live Nation sympathizes with fans who couldn’t get tickets, Greg Maffei said on TBEN’s “Squawk on the Street” Thursday. “It’s a Taylor Swift feature. The site was supposed to open to 1.5 million verified Taylor Swift fans. We had 14 million people on the site, including bots, which shouldn’t be there.”

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

“This exceeded all expectations,” he said, explaining that much of the question has centered on the fact that Swift hasn’t toured since 2018’s “Reputation” stadium tour.

Liberty Media holds interests in a wide variety of media and entertainment interests. On Thursday, it announced it would spin off Major League Baseball’s Atlanta Braves into an 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 faced criticism over its size and power in the entertainment industry. People amplified their complaints this week when tickets for Taylor Swift’s upcoming Eras tour went on sale on Ticketmaster’s website. The company was forced to extend the presale after fans flocked to the site, causing site disruptions and slow queues.

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

“While AOC may not like every part of our business, interestingly enough, AEG, our competitor, who is the promoter of Taylor Swift, has chosen to use us because we are, in reality, the largest and most effective ticket seller in the world. ” said Maffei. “Even our competitors want to get on our platform.”

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

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