Ticketing Competitor AEG Tries to Get an Edge Over Ticketmaster Through Fees

Concert and sports fans have long bridled at Ticketmaster's lock on the market with its fee-laden approach in a day and age when issuing a ticket can cost a concert attendee dearly.

Though concert attendance and earnings are up, Ticketmaster may be facing a formidable rival in the second-largest concert company, AEG.

As of Tuesday, Ticketmaster no longer has a grip on Minneapolis' major events venue Target Center, home of the NBA Timberwolves and WNBA Lynx.

AEG, a subsidiary of Anschutz Company in Denver, announced on Monday that it will be replacing Ticketmaster as the ticketing agency of the Target Center. AEG calls itself the nation's second-largest concert promotion and touring company and part owner of the Staples Center in Los Angeles, home of the NBA's Lakers and Clippers, WNBA's Sparks and NHL's Kings.

However, while AEG is providing tickets through its AXS online system for Target Center's future concerts and gatherings starting Tuesday, Ticketmaster is still ticketing Timberwolves and Lynx games.

Bryan Perez, AEG's president of digital, ticketing and media, said the Minnesota Timberwolves' 2012-2013 season was on sale to the public prior to AXS' announcement.

"Conversations about future seasons are taking place, but nothing has been confirmed at this time," hee said.

The first question frequent concert-attendees in the Minneapolis area asked after they learned Ticketmaster was given the boot for non-sporting events was, "Will fees be lower?"

Courtney Dveris, Target Center spokeswoman, said fees vary based on ticket prices.

"In some instances fees will be lower and other instances fees will likely be in line with other ticketing companies," she said.

However, unlike Ticketmaster, AXS does not charge a delivery fee to customers who print their Target Center event tickets at home, which is most often criticized by consumers. Dveris said fans have been excited to learn that fee has been eliminated with AXS.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune also points out that AXS fees are listed up front as a single fee.

At Mill City Nights, another venue in Minneapolis operated by AEG, a Nov. 24 show by Staind frontman Aaron Lewis, lists a fee of $9.50 on a $29.50 ticket (plus $.74 tax).

Ticketmaster said it has eliminated 80 percent of print at home fees across all of the events it tickets.

The company merged with Live Nation in 2010 to become Live Nation Entertainment and is based in Los Angeles. Though Ticketmaster is the dominant player, the battle has been on-going. When AEG partnered with technology start-up Outbox Technology last year, Rolling Stone then called it "potentially troubling news for Ticketmaster," when AEG was Ticketmaster's biggest client and accounted for almost 10 percent of their ticket sales in 2010.

On Monday, Ticketmaster reported that its third quarter revenue increased 10 percent to $1.96 billion while its net income was $58 million.

There were 15.8 million people who attended Live Nation concerts in the third quarter, up 1.6 percent from the same period a year ago. Ticketmaster sold 36 million tickets worth $2.1 billion in the quarter.

In a supplemental SEC filing to its earnings report, Ticketmaster said its global client retention rate is over 100 percent.