The Summer of Music: Online Ticket Craze in the UK

Buying a ticket for a music concert, festival or any live performance used to be as simple as going to the box office, call the venue or buying the tickets on their website.

The live events industry has grown as an increasingly important source of revenue for live performers and musicians who currently make most of their money from live performances rather than record sales.

These changes in the industry have seen the rise of “secondary ticketing” sites that allow individuals and other organizations to sell spare tickets – often at more than face value.

Using SimilarWeb PRO, I looked at the biggest online ticketing companies in the UK to understand how the market breaks down when it comes to site visits and also to see how the different companies promote their services online to ensure music fans land on their sites. Finally, I wanted to see which acts have been the main sources of traffic to these sites by analyzing the searches that drove most traffic this summer.

Ticketmaster remains the undisputed market leader

I chose the 6 biggest ticketing sites in the UK: Ticketmaster, Viagogo, Seatwave, Seetickets, Livenation and Stubhub. If we considered these 6 companies ‘the market’, we can see in the graph below that Ticketmaster is by far the biggest player in the industry with 50% market share. Their site traffic is more than 3 times bigger than its nearest competitors, Seatwave and Viagogo. Ticketmaster is a primary ticket seller and the breadth of events they cover including theatre to music and spots gives them the edge over competitors. The other primary seller is Ticketmaster, which is considerably smaller with 6% market share as a result of their focus on music events.


DATA: SImilarWeb, July 2013

Search Traffic is the Key

The most popular way to find tickets for an events and compare prices is via search engines. As a result of these, online ticketing sites must fight for the hottest search terms of the season. This is particularly important for secondary sellers that have to fiercely compete for the clicks of people looking for tickets to events that are sold on many of these sites. SEO is therefore crucial for them to rank high on relevant searches but they also aggressively invest in the right keywords to ensure they come at the top of search engine results. Secondary ticket sellers’ business model is based on search and the graph below shows how reliant they are on it with companies like Viagogo receiving over 60% of their site visits from search engines.


DATA: SimilarWeb, July 2013

The Summer of One Direction

When looking at the most popular searches driving traffic to Ticketmaster, Viagogo, Seatwave and Seetikets between May and July 2013 we begin to understand which are the acts and events with the biggest demand. One Direction’s phenomenon is clearly reflected on searches, being the keyword that drove more traffic to Ticketmaster, Viagogo and Seatwave. Other opular acts include Artic Monkeys, Bruno Mars and Rod Stewart.


DATA: SimilarWeb, July 2013

We then analyzed the market share of ‘One Direction’ related keywords to assess which companies are better at ‘riding on the wave’ of the boyband’s success and demand. Viagogo received over one third of ‘one direction’ ticket searches in the UK between May and July 2013 – luring desperate British teenagers to its site so they can get tickets for the sold-out concerts.


DATA: SimilarWeb, July 2013

What does this all mean?

The live event industry in the UK is no short of controversy. Secondary ticketing sites are growing as the demand for music, sports and entertainment live shows rise. These re-sellers are often accused of over-inflating ticket prices and they might not be as safe as they claim to be when it comes to counterfeit tickets. It will be interesting to see if primary sellers can fight back the battle across search engines and in the meantime, all the players in the industry will be eagerly awaiting for ‘the next big act’ that generates a flood of searches to cash on the nation’s appetite for live shows.

Thoughts or questions? Tweet me @MrBuchuk



About the Author -

Head of Brand & Strategy for SimilarWeb. Obsessed with web measurement, the internet, pop music and great TV. Wannabe cool-hunter.

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