Main Italian Ticket Operator fined €10.9 million for abuse of dominant position

By Federico Marini Balestra, Lucia Antonazzi

02-2021

On 22 December 2020, the Italian Competition Authority (AGCM) issued an important decision fining CTS Eventim €10.9 million for having implemented an unlawful exclusive strategy in the Italian market of pop music events ticket sellers.

In September 2018, the AGCM launched an investigation alleging an infringement of Article 102 TFEU by TicketOne and its parent company CTS Eventim. Indeed, TicketOne holds a dominant position in the market for ticketing services for pop and rock concerts. The Authority investigated the agreements TicketOne entered into with event organisers since 2013.

In its final decision, the Authority confirmed these concerns by stating that TicketOne and CTS Eventim had put in place a complex exclusive strategy with the double aim of boycotting competing ticket sellers and imposing exclusivity agreements on event organisers. In particular, the AGCM found that:

  • TicketOne concluded exclusive agreements with almost all event promoters operating in Italy;
  • TicketOne itself acquired four of the main national event promoters, namely Di and Gi S.r.l., Friends & Partners S.p.A., Vertigo S.r.l. and Vivo Concerti S.r.l.;
  • The entire group consisting of Ticket One and its acquired promoters undertook boycotts of local ticket sellers;
  • Particularly TicketOne boycotted and asked its partners to boycott Zed, an operator that refused to enter into exclusivity agreement with the Eventim-TicketOne group;
  • This complex abusive strategy was characterised by an exclusionary nature, and thus prevented competing ticketing operators from selling, in any way and through any channel, a certain amount of tickets for live pop and rock music events;
  • The abusive strategy excluded not only ticketing operators already present in the market, but prevented the access to the market for new entrants;
  • The abusive strategy was not ceased during the investigation and was still ongoing at the time of the decision.

Based on these findings, the AGCM concluded that Eventim-TicketOne abused its dominant position in the relevant market and created a “block effect” on an amount of tickets covering up to 60-65% of all pop and rock music events in Italy. The AGCM also found that TicketOne charged higher fees both on tickets sold online and tickets sold in physical presales authorised stores. Finally, contrary to the other ticket sellers, TicketOne also charged consumers with an additional fee for providing the “printing at home” option.  

This behaviour, in the AGCM’s view, caused harm not only to the rival ticket sellers, but also to the final consumers. The Authority determined that TicketOne should be held liable for having reduced the quality and the variety of the ticket selling services in Italy, ultimately leading to higher prices for final consumers.

Last but not least, the AGCM highlighted the EU-wide relevance of the case in question. Specifically, TicketOne’s abusive strategy covered the entire Italian territory and thus also prevented market entry of foreign ticket operators. 

Given the number of involved operators and the duration and gravity of the abusive conduct, the Authority not only imposed a fine, but also required the group to ensure that competing ticket sellers have the possibility to sell, in any way and through whichever channel at fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) conditions, at least 20% of the total amount of pop and rock music events tickets distributed by the event promoters or ticket sellers bound by the agreements concluded by Eventim-TicketOne.

The dominant undertakings already announced that they will appeal the AGCM decision in front of the Lazio Regional Administrative Tribunal (TAR). Make sure you have your tickets: the show must go on!

The AGCM’s press release in English is available here.

For more information please contact Federico Marini Balestra or Lucia Antonazzi.

 
competition CTA Visit our homepage