A spokesperson for the BBC, the broadcaster of this year’s contest in May, said “tickets for all nine shows sold out in 90 minutes”. Demand was “extremely high,” the company said.
Fans quickly took to Twitter to report problems with the sale, which was managed by Ticketmaster. Some said they were placed in a virtual queue and then kicked out due to “inactivity”, while others said they got error messages when they tried to pay for the tickets in their shopping cart.
Ticketmaster acknowledged in an email that “a very small number of fans had issues accessing the queue”, but said the website did not crash. It said that “ticket sales were unaffected and thousands of fans secured their seats for the match”. The company did not respond to follow-up questions about the technical issues or how many fans were affected.
This latest controversy comes as Ticketmaster is under pressure from US regulators to prove it offers the best service to fans and artists, after consumer groups complained that the company – which merged with Live Nation in 2010 – was behaving like a monopoly. The issue came to the fore last year when fans reported widespread system issues during the pre-sale of Swift’s “Eras” tour, prompting Ticketmaster to cancel the public sale. The company was later forced to to apologize.
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This year’s Eurovision Song Contest is particularly symbolic. Ukraine won last year’s contest, but was unable to host this year’s contest – as is traditionally the right of the winner – due to the ongoing war.
The city of Liverpool, England, is organizing the competition on behalf of Ukraine, and the UK government has offered to subsidize around 3,000 tickets for Ukrainian refugees living in the UK. The sale of those tickets goes through a separate voting process.
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For many fans, especially in Europe, where the contest is largely held, Eurovision is a much-anticipated tradition and a chance to gather around the television with friends and family to celebrate the country and its musical talents – or lack thereof.
In the UK it “used to be a joke,” says 45-year-old Michaeljon Fosker, a Londoner who has been a Eurovision fan for 15 years. The sometimes bizarre nature of the contest was even recently parodied in the Netflix movie “Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire,” starring Will Ferrell and Rachel McAdams. But now “more people are getting into it and understanding that there’s actually good music coming from the Eurovision Song Contest,” Fosker said. As an example, he mentioned the Italian rock band Maneskin, which won the Eurovision Song Contest in 2021 and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy.
In addition to spotlighting emerging music, many say watching the game has allowed them to explore other cultures and see different artists on screen. The event is known for being LGBTQ+ friendly, with several LGBTQ+ participants winning the competition.
Oliver Adams, a Eurovision blogger from Liverpool, told the BBC that he has been following the Eurovision Song Contest since he was a child and that the contest helped him discover his own identity. “I found my strangeness during the Eurovision Song Contest,” he said.
Before selling Eurovision tickets, Adams told the BBC: “I’ve got my laptop ready, I’ve got my phone ready, I’ve got my work laptop ready. I have every person in my family on standby, ready to play different assigned shows.
Still, many fans, like Adams, who prepared for ticket sales to start and stood in line when it did, experienced difficulties navigating the Ticketmaster website or paying for tickets. On Twitter, some shared screenshots of gateway timeouts or error messages appearing on Ticketmaster’s website when they were way in the queue or in the payment phase.
An user joked that Ticketmaster “let the UK down worse than Jemini ever did” – a reference to the 1990s pop duo from Liverpool who represented Britain in the 2003 Eurovision Song Contest and finished last, earning the country zero points.
With the increasing interest in the match, there is an increasing demand for tickets to attend in person. According to the organisers, this is the first time that tickets for all live Eurovision shows have sold out on the first day of sale. Ticketmaster advised fans to check out the fan-to-fan resale website in case tickets become available in the future.
One problem is the venue: Liverpool’s arena has a maximum capacity of 11,000 people – which is big, but not compared to some of the event’s previous venues. According to the Eurovision Song Contest, Copenhagen’s 2001 contest had the largest audience ever, with nearly 38,000 people congregating in the city’s Parken Stadium.
“There are millions of people who want to go see it and you have one arena. It makes sense that many people will be angry and not get tickets,” said Fosker, who failed to buy tickets for the Eurovision Song Contest this year. He first tried to get tickets through a vote organized by Eurovision fan club OGAE, but gave up when he saw that a bundle of tickets for both live semi-finals and the final cost £960 (about $1,130). He then entered a virtual queue for general public tickets, but it took “so long” that the tickets “sold out by the time I got there.”
However, he says he is not upset and plans to watch the game on television – echoing one of his friends, who told him that at least he will have the best seat in the house, but it will be my house .”
“If you get the right group of people together, it will still be great to watch TV,” he adds. “Plus, you get your own snacks.”