Tech Industry

Advantix, Tickets.com join forces

The ticketing-technology company will team with the marketer to take on Ticketmaster.

Ticketing software and sales company Advantix said today it is entering the online market by merging with Tickets.com, a competitor to Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch.

Both Advantix and Tickets.com are private companies. Financial details of the all-stock deal were not disclosed.

The merger gives Advantix, which sells tickets and provides electronic ticketing systems to 1,400 clients, marketing prowess both on the Internet and off. Tickets.com owns the 1-800-TICKETS phone number, the tickets.com URL and has a deal with America Online that sends users to the Tickets.com site.

By joining Advantix, Tickets.com has followed a model for many Internet startups: be there first, and wait for the major offline vendors to follow suit. Advantix "needed a front end, a content engine and a robust search engine and the real understanding of what drives consumers on the Internet," said Jim Caccavo, chief executive of Tickets.com.

The market for live event tickets on the Web is small but growing quickly. The online market for tickets to events, attractions and travel is projected to grow from $475 million in 1997 to more than $10 billion in 2001, according to Forrester Research.

Ticketmaster Online-CitySearch dominates the online ticketing market. The company was formed from the merger of market leader Ticketmaster's online business and the city guide, and went public in December in a spectacular IPO that saw its share price triple on the first day of trading.

Ticketmaster Online-Citysearch, 61 percent of which is owned by USA Networks, reported revenue of $5.8 million from its online ticket sales in the fourth quarter of 1998, a 205 percent increase over the previous year. Web sales represented just 6 percent of Ticketmaster's total ticket sales.

Despite distributing 100 million tickets worth $2 billion last year, Advantix has been unable to catch up with Ticketmaster, which sells tickets for about 3,000 venues, compared to Advantix's 1,400. But there is still a huge opportunity for Tickets.com, according to Caccavo.

Tickets.com hopes to extend its brand, both on the Internet and through radio and print advertising campaigns, far enough to eventually convince the bigger venues to reconsider their exclusive contracts with Ticketmaster when those contracts expire, Caccavo said.