Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Second Report

The scale of the secondary market

36. Although a great deal of the evidence to the inquiry emphasized that secondary selling now took place on a scale such as to cause real problems for promoters, there was no consensus, and no research statistics to show what proportion of tickets passed through the secondary market, either overall or for particular categories of event. The Rt Hon Shaun Woodward, who was the DCMS Minister with responsibility for creative industries and tourism, wanted to put on record that, for 90% of people trying to get tickets, the market worked very well.[129] He thought that there was no epidemic in relation to the sale of tickets, although the perception of the scale of it was greater than it had been when the Office of Fair Trading had reported in 2005.[130] The Government told us that there had been an estimate of up to 15% of tickets being removed from primary distribution to resell with a price mark up.[131] Mr Nick Blackburn, managing director of See Tickets, estimated that 30-35% of tickets went to people who had no intention of attending events but bought the tickets for reselling,[132] while Mr Rob Ballantine suggested that possibly 40% of concert tickets went through the hands of someone making a profit.[133]

37. eBay gave us some examples to show that sales of tickets through eBay for particular sporting events represented a very small proportion of the overall allocations, such as 0.5% for the 2007 Six Nations Rugby Championship, 0.8% for the 2006-07 Ashes series and 0.2% for Wimbledon 2006.[134] eBay also referred to its own research which suggested that the vast majority of people listing tickets on eBay were individuals selling spare tickets. Nine out of 10 people on eBay over the course of a year sold five tickets or fewer, and 60% sold just one. But the Rugby Football Union said that thousands of tickets appeared for sale on eBay and that a large number of sellers "would collect large numbers of tickets together until they had a reasonable stock to sell",[135] and other research, from the Concert Promoters Association, identified a number of eBay sellers as having monthly touting turnovers in four, or even five figure sums.[136]

38. Moreover, eBay is but one of a number of trading platforms. The Association of Secondary Ticket Agents has 58 members,[137]and eBay itself said that there was an almost unlimited number of alternative channels, with both individuals and businesses selling tickets through online and offline classified advertisements, individual websites, other online marketplaces, and paid online searches.[138]

39. More work needs to be done on quantifying the core problem. In particular more reliable estimates are needed of the proportion of tickets passing through the secondary market:

—  overall;

—  for different kinds of events;

—  at, above or below face value;

—  via organised operations or incidental sales; and

—  through auction sites, trading platforms, secondary agents or other routes.

We would encourage secondary ticket sellers and marketplaces to co-operate fully in making this data available.

129   Q 125, Q 128 Back

130   Q 128 Back

131   Ev 74 Back

132   Q 70 Back

133   Q 31 Back

134   Ev 43 Back

135   Ev 2 Back

136   Ev 19 Back

137   Mr Graham Burns, Q 58 Back

138   Ev 45 Back

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