StubHub is announcing massive furloughs – the first major ticketing company to do so.
The cost-cutting move comes as the live music industry is devastated during the coronavirus pandemic. Hundreds of sporting events and live events are canceled or postponed, hitting ticketing companies hard. Live Nation’s stock has been on a roller coaster of ups and downs since the U.S. shutdown.
448 NBA and NHL games are gone, along with the start of the MLB season. The ticketing industry is struggling to survive in a world were no tickets can be sold. Empty arenas like an ice rink in Spain have been converted into a temporary morgue to house coronavirus victims — a conversion that symbolically speaks volumes.
In a statement, StubHub said the furloughs were a “difficult but responsible decision.” StubHub did not disclose how many employees are facing a furlough.
“Given the impact of the coronavirus on the live-events industry, we have made the difficult but responsible decision to furlough a portion of our employee base.” StubHub says it will continue to support its customers and partners during this time.
StubHub and other major ticketing sites are providing a full refund on tickets to canceled events. Those customers can choose a full refund or a coupon worth 120% of their original order.
Another source, citing a StubHub internal email, says the company is furloughing as much as 67% of its workforce.
That leaves less than 150 out of 450 staffers to operate the company until June. ESPN contacted StubHub to verify those numbers – StubHub did not dispute them.
Meanwhile, both Ticketmaster and SeatGeek have confirmed that they have not furloughed or laid off any of their employees. Ticketmaster parent company Live Nation could find itself on the wrong end of a credit downgrade as Wall Street continues to whipsaw the stock.
“We believe the growing number of postponed events could hurt live Nation Entertainment Inc.’s operating performance,” S&P Global said last week. Lower than expected attendance or future cancellations could also play a part.