UPDATED: Tickets for Bruce Springsteen’s eight-week run of Broadway shows went on sale at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday (Aug.30), and despite the efforts of Ticketmaster’s “Verified Fan” program, they were available almost immediately on secondary-market websites like StubHub and Vivid Seats for thousands of dollars.
At around 10:10 a.m., StubHub listed a pair of “Springsteen on Broadway” tickets at the 975-capacity Walter Kerr Theatre for $6,700. Several dates on Vivid Seats are listing front row center orchestra by unknown sellers with prices ranging from $9,000 to as “low” as $6,000.
For the shows, the theater has enlisted Verified Fan as part of an overall effort to grapple with automated ticketing bots, which third-party resellers can use to snap up high-demand tickets the instant they go on sale and then resell to consumers at jacked-up prices. In order to buy tickets through Verified Fan, consumers must register their name, mobile number, and address in the days prior to the on-sale date. That gives Verified Fan’s identity protocols the time to weed out the scalpers from the buyers most likely to use their tickets themselves.
“Our best measure of success is the number of Verified Fan tickets that we’ve seen get resold,” David Marcus, EVP, head of music for Ticketmaster North America, told Variety earlier this month. “Across more than 50 tours so far, we’ve seen less than 5% of the tickets sold distributed over the secondary market.” Verified Fan tech had to be modified somewhat for Broadway, where small venues (less than 1,000 for “Springsteen on Broadway”) lead to sky-high demand — and elevated ticket prices — for the hottest shows.
Still, Springsteen tickets were available at wildly inflated prices almost immediately. While the four-figure prices will probably be bought by someone, the more astronomical prices were probably “placeholders,” one expert explains.”When you see an inflated price like a $25,000 Bruce Springsteen ticket — as I saw this morning — that is what is referred to as a ‘placeholder,’ an accounting technique used by ticket brokers to make sure the ticket does not sell until they have completed some kind of paperwork, at which time the ticket is listed for the intended price,” said ticket industry consultant Sam Pocker. “Generally, when you see a crazy price like this, it only stays up for a few hours. It is not the seller’s actual intention to sell the ticket at that price.”
At press time, some of the initial tickets listed for the first nights of previews are listed at $6,000, with the cheap seats in the mezzanine listed at $2,000.
Ticketmaster addressed the problem earlier this morning, warning fans to be “vigilant” and resist the urge to buy from the secondary markets.
When reached by Variety for comment, a rep for Ticketmaster referred to a statement addressing the issue of “speculative seating.” So far, social media response by fans that received an email the night before confirming verification and then receiving a text message with a code to purchase seats was positive. However, the Verified Fan cannot eliminate the supply-and-demand challenge and thus not every fan can get a ticket for such a high demand show with such limited seating. However, the program does level the playing field in that a fan is up against another fan (or at least a real person) instead of a bot.
“A growing problem that we fight against daily is a practice called ‘Speculative Listing’ (Spec Listing) or ‘Speculative Tickets,” the statement reads. “Spec Listing is when unofficial sellers list tickets for sale even though they do not actually have those tickets. They are betting (or speculating) that they will be able to get tickets and then resell them to fans. This is not only wrong, it’s unfair. It forces real fans to compete against resellers who are scrambling to find tickets to fulfill the speculations they made.”