Louis C.K. vs. Scalpers – What Does it Mean?

Louis C.K. vs. Scalpers – What Does it Mean?

Business Week and a variety other rags were abuzz this week about Louis C.K.’s efforts to one up scalpers by selling tickets to his shows on his website for $45, period. TicketNews scooped some data on the subject from SeatGeek, which suggests that Louis’ efforts have so far been a success. Some have speculated that this is a blow to scalpers and Ticketmaster. No question, its was a big success for Louis, but I don’t think this is a sign of things to come.

Why?

1. This was possible because Louis, much to his credit, went to great lengths to find venues that were not married to Ticketmaster.  Not impossible, but not something many artists are able to put the time into between updating Twitter and evading the paparazzi.

2. Capping on the previous point, the desired seating capacity for the tour venues is roughly 2,000 – 5,000 seats. There are more options for smaller, desirable venues with those kinds of capacities. The same would not be true if one wanted to accommodate much more than 5,000 – Ticketmaster (or an evil twin) has them locked up.

3. Louis is explicit that scalping will be monitored and enforced. That is going to deter a good portion of risk averse hobbyists who typically scalp tickets. The more sophisticated enterprise has ways to manage risk and return which will result in fewer tickets being purchased for the purpose of resale.

Skimming the resale prices on Ticketnetwork.com and StubHub, it looks to me like the pros are building risk / return into the ticket prices. For example, in Boston, tickets are at least four times face, in Cleveland, they are closer to ten times face value as of this writing.

Kudos to Louis C.K. for being different and giving Ticketmaster something to think about. Still business as usual for resellers.