Kristen Boesel
Kristen is a Senior Lifestyles & Leisure Analyst at Mintel. She conducts consumer research and analysis for US Lifestyles and Leisure Reports and advises clients on consumer attitudes and behaviors.

After promising news about Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines, Ticketmaster announced its plan to make audiences’ return to live events safer. By partnering with health pass companies (eg CLEAR Health Pass, IBM Digital Health Pass) and testing/vaccine distribution providers (eg Labcorp, the CVS Minute Clinic), Ticketmaster hopes to verify that ticketholders have either been vaccinated or received a negative COVID-19 test within a 24-72 hour timeframe prior to ticketed events.

Prior to a ticketed event, consumers will be able to instruct COVID-19 testing labs to deliver results to a health pass company partnering with Ticketmaster. If a ticketholder tests negative, or is already fully vaccinated, the health pass company will confirm the fan’s COVID-free status to Ticketmaster, which will then issue the healthy consumer proper credentials for admission. To comply with HIPPA requirements, Ticketmaster would not have access to ticketholders’ medical records but would require attendees to use the Ticketmaster app for entry to the venue.

What it means

The sooner event organizers can guarantee fans’ safety at in-person events, the sooner the industry will recover. Ticketmaster already dominates ticket distribution for most sports teams and live events, so whatever safety protocols they adopt will become the standard for smaller venues and event organizers to follow. Nearly half of consumers who attended a live event in 2019, purchased a ticket through a ticket distributor like Ticketmaster, according to Mintel research on the future of live events. However, at this point, Ticketmaster’s plan would require an unlikely alignment of circumstances in order to be successful.

There is a chance that “health pass” companies will become a necessary part of post-pandemic life. COVID-free credentials may be required for airline travel, employment verification or theme park entry, but it will take time for nascent businesses like CLEAR Health Pass and IBM Digital Health Pass to develop infrastructures that can accommodate millions of consumers. Unvaccinated ticketholders would also need access to relatively rapid COVID-19 test results without a referral from a healthcare provider, which is a scenario that is not yet feasible in most parts of the country.

Getting Americans on board with digital health credentials is another story. As of now, about half of all adults do not feel comfortable sharing their personal information even for contact tracing purposes. It seems unlikely that most Americans would be willing to release their medical data to a commercial health pass company. Furthermore, only two in five adults say that receiving a vaccine would make them feel safer in a crowd, and there’s a good chance only the hardest core fans will put in the effort to pay out of pocket for a rapid COVID-19 test a day or two before an event.