Viagogo is back in the headlines. And the live industry wants some answers.

Last week, the rogue secondary ticketing operator and promoters’ enemy No. 1 threw down the gauntlet with a multi-billion-dollar deal to buy StubHub from eBay, an arrangement that would make Viagogo top dog in the North American resale market.

Now, Google has opened its arms to Viagogo once again. The controversial ticketing company was suspended in July following concerns about misleading advertising practices, but Google has welcomed back Viagogo to advertise on its platform.

Almost immediately, Viagogo returned to the top of Google searches for some of the biggest concerts in these parts, including Elton John’s 40-date trans-Tasman farewell trek.

In his speech to the Australian music industry last Wednesday as he received the ARIA Icon award, Michael Chugg, whose company is behind the Rocket Man’s tour, said, “I was very disappointed to read in the international papers that Google has put that scumbag Viagogo back on the ticketing page. We’re going to talk about that over the next couple of weeks.”

The talk has started.

In recent days, Live Performance Australia issued a “please explain” message to Google.

LPA Chief Executive Evelyn Richardson penned a letter to Google’s Australia and New Zealand managing director Melanie Silva, seeking an “urgent clarification” of the commitments that have been given by Viagogo around its business practices.

Chugg, Michael Gudinski and others have been leading the battle against Viagogo, which was the subject of a Federal Court action by the ACCC.

Viagogo logo with red cross on top
The live industry has big issues with Viagogo

“Our industry has been calling out Viagogo for its misleading practices for some time now, and it has also been subject to Federal Court action by the ACCC,” Richardson said in a statement.

“In April this year, the Federal Court found that Viagogo had made false or misleading representations and engaged in conduct liable to mislead the public when reselling entertainment, music and live sport event tickets. And, yet, only months later it is back in action on Google.”

Australia’s live performance industry “wants some answers from Google on its turnaround,” Richardson adds.

With all this activity on both sides of the globe, Viagogo has appointed an Australian media relations team, TIO has learned. A spokesperson has yet to respond on a request for comment.

Elton John
Elton John

Viagogo snapped up StubHub in a deal worth north of US$4 billion. “This is a massive opportunity for us, our fans, and our partners in 70+ countries globally,” comments CEO Sukhinder Singh Cassidy.

The sale is expected to complete by the end of the first quarter of next year and is subject to regulatory approval.

Regardless of the activities of rogue traders, Australia’s live business is in good shape, according to new data published by the LPA.

In calendar year 2018, the Australian live performance industry generated total ticket sales revenue of almost $2.2 billion, an increase of 14.8% from 2017, when ticket sales hit $1.88 billion.

The big gains, reported in the 2018 Ticket Attendance and Revenue survey, came from a near-double-digit lift in the average ticket price from $90.59 to $99.03.