President and Chief Financial Officer at Live Nation Entertainment
Thanks, Michael, and good afternoon, everyone. Given the unique seasonality we experienced last year, I'll provide an overview of our annual results but also give some specifics on the fourth quarter as we believe that is a better indicator of what lies ahead for 2022 and beyond. Overall, our AOI of $324 million for the year was $1.3 billion better than 2020, led by an improvement of $800 million in ticketing, over $400 million in concerts and $150 million in sponsorship. For the fourth quarter, we delivered AOI of $160 million, led by record quarterly AOI results in ticketing and strong performance in sponsorship. On the balance sheet, we ended the year with $1.5 billion in free cash and $2.3 billion in event-related deferred revenue. This deferred revenue is almost twice the level of Q4 2019, giving us one of several leading indicators for how strong 2022 is looking. Let me give a bit more color on each division, and then I will give you more on the 2022 leading indicators. First, in concerts, we had 16 million fans attend 9,300 events in the quarter, continuing to be led by the U.S. and the U.K., which accounted for almost 90% of these fans.
The strength of fan spending we discussed in Q3 continued through Q4, with consistent increases in ticket pricing and average per fan spending. Concert ticket pricing was up 11% overall for the year relative to 2019, 14% in North America as demand in many major venue types, amphitheaters, stadiums and festivals showed strong increases as we put more tickets in market-based platinum and VIP pricing offers. Similarly, average fan spending at our amphitheaters ended up in line with last quarter's commentary at $37 for the year, up 25% from 2019. While this was helped by fewer promotions, it was largely driven by higher purchases as average fan spending increased across the board from food and beverage, ticket add-ons, VIP and parking. For our major festivals, average spending per fan also rose double digits, largely as a result of higher food and beverage and VIP sales. Finally, as we also noted last quarter, operating costs per fan were up due to lower operating scale from fewer shows per venue along with labor cost increases. But overall, our contribution margin per fan was up double digits as pricing, on-site spending and other revenue more than covered any incremental cost. Next, Sponsorship, largely followed Concert's return to activity over the course of the year and into the fourth quarter. As a result, 2021 Sponsorship and advertising AOI of $242 million was about 2/3 of 2019 levels, while Q4 AOI of $115 million was 39% higher than 2019 Q4. This strength comes across on-site and online as both parts of the business delivered record Q4 AOI. Again, our large festivals were a standout performer, increasing sponsorship revenue per fan by over 10% versus the same festivals in 2019. Finally, Ticketing was clearly the star of the quarter, delivering $212 million of AOI, which surpassed its previous best quarter, Q3 of this year, by over 20% and was 60% higher than Q4 2019, which was our previous best Q4.
Ticketing success was across the board. Let me give you a few key statistics for the quarter. Transacted ticket volume, excluding refunds, for 65 million tickets coming in even higher than Q4 2019. Transacted ticketing GTV, excluding refunds, was $6.6 billion, 20% higher than Q4 2019. This was driven by concerts and sporting events, whose GTV were up 22% and 55%, respectively. Price increases helped drive the GTV levels, with average ticket prices up 17% for the fourth quarter relative to Q4 2019 and concerts and sporting event ticketing pricing each up approximately 20%. Our growth came from both primary and secondary ticketing, with transacted GTV, excluding refunds, up 16% and 49%, respectively. And we added 17 million net new fee-bearing tickets from new clients to the marketplace in 2021, with most of that inventory coming online this year. And finally, our ongoing cost management helped drive ticketings' Q4 results, operating at substantially lower fixed costs than Q4 2019 as we both structurally reduced costs and also held the line on other costs being added back until we saw ticket sales fully return. So as we look to 2022, first, OCESA will benefit full year results as Mexico is seeing live events starting to return. Most notably, their contribution will flow through our Sponsorship and Ticketing divisions. Looking at our leading indicators through mid-February, first, confirmed large venue show bookings are up 30% overall and double digits for each amphitheaters, arenas, stadiums and festivals. Second, we have sold 45 million tickets for concerts this year, up 45% from this point in 2019.
While it's too early to have much data on ticket pricing, early indicators continue to show the inelasticity of demand for the best tickets. Looking at our top 10 concert tours this year versus this point in 2019, average pricing is up over 20% as our average platinum allocation has increased substantially. Now looking at secondary ticketing demand at Ticketmaster, five of their top 10 highest demand events ever have taken place in 2022, signaling that secondary markets continue to grow even faster than primary ticketing.
On the sponsorship side, commitments are up double digits from this point in 2019 prior to including OCESA. And overall, we have more than 80% of our planned sponsorship net revenue for 2022 already committed. A few other 2022 points. We continue to maintain a lower cost structure, and this takes into account labor cost increases within our perimeter as at the start of 2020. But obviously, adding new businesses, including OCESA will come with additional fixed costs. And from a seasonality standpoint, we're going to be even more Q2 and Q3 driven this year than usual. Q1 activity is historically very arena driven with limited outdoor activity. And as we plan the arena tours for this year, we had most of them starting in Q2 instead of Q1 to give the international markets time to fully open. It appears we planned that correctly. We continue to be on track with those plans.
And certainly, the leading indicators suggest the full year will be a record fan levels, but with somewhat lower concert activity this Q1 versus 2019. In anticipation of the growth opportunities ahead of us this year, we expect 2022 capital expenditures to be approximately $375 million, with 2/3 of this spent on revenue-generating projects. In addition, we ended 2021 with $2.1 billion of available liquidity between free cash and untapped revolver capacity, giving us sufficient flexibility to invest in growth. We are comfortable with our current leverage, and we'll continue to reevaluate our balance sheet on an ongoing basis.
With that, let me open the call for questions. Operator?