Greg Maffei, the CEO of Ticketmaster’s largest shareholder, Liberty Media, blamed bots for the ticket-selling company’s struggle to get Taylor Swift concert tickets into the hands of over one million “verified fans.”
After a highly criticized ticket presale for Swift on Tuesday, Ticketmaster announced it would cancel Friday’s public ticket sales due to high presale demand.
“Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand, tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been cancelled,” Ticketmaster announced Thursday.
Due to extraordinarily high demands on ticketing systems and insufficient remaining ticket inventory to meet that demand, tomorrow’s public on-sale for Taylor Swift | The Eras Tour has been cancelled.
— Ticketmaster (@Ticketmaster) November 17, 2022
The company launched a “verified fans” feature to try and weed out the bots and get tickets in the hands of actual humans, but it was ultimately unsuccessful due to the “uninvited volume” of sign-ups.
“Never before has a Verified Fan on sale sparked so much attention – or uninvited volume,” Ticketmaster said in a blog post. “This disrupted the predictability and reliability that is the hallmark of our Verified Fan platform.”
Maffei blamed the failure on a combination of high demand and increased bot activity.
“It’s a function of Taylor Swift. The site was supposed to open up for 1.5 million verified Taylor Swift fans. We had 14 million people hit the site, including bots, which are not supposed to be there,” Maffei told CNBC.
Maffei said over two million presale tickets were sold on Tuesday and claimed that demand for Swift “could have filled 900 stadiums.”
However, some of the millions of Swift fans who could not secure presale tickets with their “verified fan” codes took their frustrations to Twitter. Some fans were upset with Swift, taking her silence on the issue as proof that she views her fans as “just a dollar sign.”
The Swift ticket fiasco even caught the attention of some Democrat lawmakers in Congress. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said Ticketmaster, who merged with event promoter Live Nation, should be broken up under federal antitrust laws.
“Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. “Break them up.”
Daily reminder that Ticketmaster is a monopoly, it’s merger with LiveNation should never have been approved, and they need to be reigned in.
Break them up.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 15, 2022
New Jersey Democrat Rep. Bill Pascrell issued a similar message on Twitter, saying Swift fans ended “up in crisis,” before calling to “Break up Ticketmaster.”
.@Ticketmaster should not be left alone to their devices. They come up with prices and vices. #Swifties end up in crisis. Break up Ticketmaster. #erastour #eras #TSmidnighTS pic.twitter.com/M46yyOPSGO
— Bill Pascrell, Jr. 🇺🇸🇺 (@BillPascrell) November 17, 2022
Maffei hit back at his congressional critics during the interview with CBNC, hailing Ticketmaster as the “most effective ticket seller in the world.”
“Though AOC may not like every element of our business, interestingly, AEG, our competitor, who is the promoter for Taylor Swift, chose to use us because, in reality, we are the largest and most effective ticket seller in the world,” Maffei said. “Even our competitors want to come on our platform.”