Suddenly, a lot of Broadway is wondering: What’s Verified Fan?
That’s because two of this season’s most hotly anticipated shows — beginning with Bruce Springsteen’s upcoming run of concerts this fall — are namechecking Ticketmaster’s new program as the only way to score tickets. “Springsteen on Broadway” announced it would be using Verified Fan just a week after the New York transfer of London smash “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” said it would also be using the service when “Harry Potter” opens in the spring.
Broadway 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. Last year, the Broadway community was part of a push for a New York state law that would make bots illegal, with Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator of bot-bait smash “Hamilton,” among those adding his voice in support. (Bots have also become a hot topic on London’s West End, where megaproducer Cameron Mackintosh and “Potter” producer Sonia Friedman are contributing to efforts to cut down on scalping.)
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,” said David Marcus, EVP, head of music for Ticketmaster North America. “Across more than 50 tours so far, we’ve seen less than 5% of the tickets sold distributed over the secondary market.” Ticketmaster has previously used Verified Fan with music acts including Harry Styles, Imagine Dragons, and LCD Soundsystem.
Verified Fan tech will have to be modified somewhat for Broadway, where small venues (1,500 seats for the Lyric Theater where “Harry Potter” will run, and less than 1,000 for “Springsteen on Broadway”) lead to sky-high demand — and elevated ticket prices — for the hottest shows.
Marcus said that Verified Fan has already been used for similarly high-demand events, citing Styles’ upcoming concert at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium as an example. According to him, the biggest difference from the concert business is the long runs of Broadway outings as compared to the brief stops made by many concert tours. Springsteen will play the Walter Kerr Theater for eight weeks; the much-hyped “Harry Potter” is anticipated to run for years.
For Broadway shows, Verified Fan will have the capacity to suggest alternate available dates. Ticket buyers will also be able to opt in to alerts when desired dates become available.
Being verified, however, doesn’t guarantee you’ll manage to get a ticket. It’s still being determined how Springsteen and “Potter” hopefuls will score a place in the virtual line, whether by random lottery or by measurement on some sort of engagement metric.
Even with the Verified Fan system in place, the anticipated frenzy for both Springsteen and “Harry Potter” will still make tickets massively difficult to nab. Marcus noted that so far, the management of consumer expectations has been the biggest challenge with Verified Fan. “Once you tell somebody you’re a Verified Fan, how do you take that next step to say, ‘But unfortunately, there’s no tickets available?'” he said.