Live Nation Entertainment CEO Michael Rapino is as excited as anyone to hear the NFL schedule tonight – so he knows what stadiums will be available to book and when as artists start touring again later this year.
“Traditionally they [sports leagues] announce the season and … then we can set the dates,” he said. The live entertainment giant that owns Ticketmaster, Live Nation Concerts and Live Nation Media & Sponsorship will be inching back onto the stage this summer after seeing its business completely shut down in March.
Rapino, speaking on a conference call to discuss quarterly results, anticipates experimenting over the summer in smaller venues in more open states and countries, edging back towards something resembling the concert industry as we know it by 2021.
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Some 65,000 Ticketmaster shows and 9,000 Live Nation shows have been impacted by the spread of COVID-19. The good news is that only 5% to 10% of ticket holders have chosen refunds, most opting to wait for their postponed shows. And he said a Live Nation poll of 8,000 North American concert fans showed most all of them will willingly return to concert going on two conditions: venues are thoroughly disinfected and there’s easy access to hand sanitizer. Fans wanted to see Billie Eilish in March, but they will wait until October, or wait until February,” Rapino said.
He said the company is talking to Live Nation-repped artists “on a daily basis. They are waiting to get back on the road when it is safe for them and their fans. … It is in our DNA to gather, socialize and celebrate,” he said.
The company is also looking at masks, reduced capacity, “touchless concessions” and expanded use of digital ticketing technology. He said it working with medical experts and public health officials on procedures, and with federal and state government in the U.S. and authorities in other countries to develop reopening phases for each market.
“Like most of the world, we have been working remotely since mid-March and we will return to work only after there is clear consensus that it is safe to do so,” he said.
For the March quarter, revenue fell 21% to $1.37 billion. Net losses widened to $185 million from $52 million.
Like movie theaters, live events companies are another group that has seen its entire business go dark. Live Nation is the biggest and has about enough available cash to last in the current situation for about a a year.
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