April 17, 2020
The Honorable Bill Pascrell
2370 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable Katie Porter
1117 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congressman Pascrell and Congresswoman Porter:
On behalf of Mr. Rapino, I am responding to your letter dated April 16, 2020 in my role as the global head of Ticketmaster. First, I would like you to know that we share your concerns for our customers and all Americans in distress at this time.
As the entire world continues to navigate the impact of COVID-19, tens of thousands of live events around the globe have been canceled or are being rescheduled. Fans are understandably frustrated and confused.
Let me start by assuring you that Ticketmaster, with the support of our clients, intends to honor our longstanding practice of allowing refunds on canceled or postponed shows.
Ticketmaster is a platform that allows event organizers to sell their tickets directly to consumers. Our business practice is to send money to event organizers on a weekly basis as tickets are sold. For the 30,000 events that have already been postponed or canceled as a result of COVID-19, we have already sent more than $2 billion to event organizers, making it impossible to issue refunds to fans before recouping sales receipts from the organizers, as we’ve done in the past.
To be clear, Ticketmaster intends to refund as many tickets as possible in as timely a fashion as is feasible. We are working every day towards that goal.
That said, some context may be helpful. As of March 1, there were over 55,000 events on our systems scheduled to take place between March 1 and the end of 2020. As noted, most of those events have already been impacted in some way by government-mandated, and vitally necessary, restrictions on large public gatherings. We fully anticipate more events will be impacted in the weeks and months ahead.
Of those 30,000 events already impacted, over 12,000 have already been canceled and we are actively issuing refunds to every one of the purchasers of those events. Roughly 5,000 events have already been rescheduled, and organizers have authorized us to issue refunds to consumers who request them.
Of the remaining 14,000 events—which include sports, concerts and Broadway shows—promoters are actively working through rescheduling options, which is an incredibly complex task at present given the diminished line of sight into the future as well as the uncertainty around when large gatherings may resume. As those events either land new dates or are cancelled, we will work quickly with the event organizers to authorize refunds on those events as well.
Let me reiterate: neither our clients, nor Ticketmaster, intend to withhold refunds on postponed shows. In fact, as of today, both Live Nation Entertainment and AEG Live, two of our largest event organizers, have announced they will begin to provide refunds, on a rolling basis, for all events impacted by COVID-19.
The industry has come together to navigate this unprecedented time. We know fans are eager to return to live events, and collectively share in experiences with their favorite artists, athletes and actors. We need time to manage through so we are all in a position for that to become a reality, and we look forward to the day when we can come together again