Justice Department Reportedly Set to File Live Nation Antitrust Complaint ‘In the Coming Weeks’

Live Nation lawsuit
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Live Nation lawsuit
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Photo Credit: Live Nation

The better part of two years after reportedly initiating an antitrust investigation into Live Nation, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is reportedly preparing to file a related lawsuit against the Ticketmaster parent “in the coming weeks.”

This possible legal action entered the media spotlight in a Wall Street Journal report, after the New York Times in November of 2022 shed light on the underlying probe. The investigation, centering on alleged market-power abuses, had reportedly been in full swing for several months at that point.

Moreover, federal lawmakers had been criticizing Live Nation and Ticketmaster (which were allowed to merge in 2010) for some time over the Eras Tour pre-sale fiasco. One year after the Times report, the Journal wrote in more words that the intensifying Justice Department investigation was zeroing in on Live Nation’s artist terms and whether its deals were prohibiting venues from working with different companies.

“Finally, we obviously find it interesting (as I think you tweeted) that the timing of this always seems to come up at earnings,” Live Nation CFO Joe Berchtold responded to an investor’s question during his company’s Q3 2023 earnings call. “We don’t think there’s any real news right now concerning the investigation. We’re completing our document production that they’ve asked for, we haven’t even started depositions.”

More recently, February of 2024 reportedly delivered a series of new DOJ information requests in connection with the investigation.

Moving beyond these and adjacent background details – Live Nation is expected to post its Q1 2024 financials on May 2nd – the Journal indicated that the “specific claims the department would allege couldn’t be learned.”

What we do know, however, is that the aforementioned congressional scrutiny of Live Nation and Ticketmaster, far from abating, is still driving broader investigations and criticism over areas including all-in pricing. Furthermore, ultra-expensive ticket prices are continuing to make headlines, as are the Beverly Hills-based promoter’s increasingly positive financials.

Live Nation, which is reportedly grappling with an investigation from a former Louisiana attorney general as well, reported a 36 percent revenue jump for 2023, when it generated $22.7 billion, per the appropriate breakdown.

Lastly, the First Fleet Concerts majority stakeholder hasn’t sat idly by while facing the DOJ probe and pricing criticism. Last month saw Live Nation EVP of corporate and regulatory affairs Dan Wall explain “the truth about ticket prices” in a close to 3,000-word article. Needless to say, that all-encompassing document wasn’t penned with the casual reader in mind, though it remains to be seen whether the piece will change the opinions of powerful Live Nation critics.

At the time of this writing, Live Nation stock (NYSE: LYV) was down 6.5 percent from Monday’s close, at $93.25 per share.