Poster matineeTelecharge released a third installment of their report on Broadway performance times recently, once again challenging us all to thoroughly examine our perf schedule and ask, "Do we have the best performance times for our customers or are we just going along with tradition?"

This report concentrated solely on Out-Of-Town buyers (tourists) and Suburbanites, since those two groups account from more than 80% of our sales.

Here are a few bullet points from the in-depth analysis:

  • Monday night has the highest percentage of out-of-towners, but Thursday has 3x as many out-of-town sales as Monday.
  • Wednesday evening is typically the weakest-selling performance, but twice as many out-of-towners bought tickets for a Wednesday evening as a Monday evening.
  • Unlike out-of-town buyers, suburban buyers show a significant preference for matinee performances.
  • Sunday and Monday evenings are the two weakest performances for sales to tourists but they have a high percentage of sales from them: 52% and 54%, comparable to Friday and Saturday night.  These performances depend more on tourists than other performances.
  • The peak performances for out-of-town buyers fall between Thursday and Sunday afternoon.
  • Thursday is a stronger performance with out-of-town buyers than Sunday matinee or Wednesday night. 

What does all the data in these three reports tell us?  Should we have 7 PM performances on other nights besides Tuesday?  Should we have Thursday and/or Friday matinees?  If tourists are here between Thursday and Sunday, what about a Friday at 5 (like our friends in London)?  What about 9 PMs on Saturday?

These reports don't have all the answers.  As a therapist once told me . . . "We don't have all the answers, we just know what questions to ask."

These fantastic reports challenge us all to ask our own questions about our own specific shows.  Don't follow tradition for tradition's sake (unless, of course, you're doing Fiddler).  Use the stats, study your audience, and shake up your times until you find what works best.

Special thanks to The Shuberts and Telecharge for releasing this info.  (To read the summaries of the previous reports click here and here.)

Let's hope for more of these in the future.

Or you know what would be really cool?  A Telecharge ticketing blog!  

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3 Responses to More performance time research revealed.

  1. Liz says:

    Wouldn’t the Monday night data get skewed because so few shows are open? I bet a lot of out-of-towners would be happy to have more choices that night, instead of the handful of shows that aren’t dark.

  2. Randi says:

    I think it’s such a waste that Broadway limits its weekday matinees to Wednesday. In London, you can see a show Monday afternoon and Monday night, Tuesday afternoon and night, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. It’s so much better to scatter the matinees. What’s so special about Wednesdays?

  3. EdWeissman says:

    Once upon a time, performance times actually fit in with the usual work week. People worked Mon – Sat with Wed and Sat as half days. Hence Wed & Sat matinees. The NY Stock Exchange ended Sat am trading in 1950ish. Much theatre going was spur of the momentish and people often went home (on rapid transit) for a meal and then back to mid-town for a show. Hence curtain times were 2:30 – 2:45 with 2:40 common for plays, and 8:30 – 8:45 (8:40 for plays) – shows tended to come down at the same time. Thursday was maid’s day off – in general off day for service personnel. So plays,musicals with a strong working class audience, had Thursday matinees instead.
    POINT is performance times had something to do with people’s lives. Varying the schedule (with various schedules common now) has the problem that not everything is on at the same time. I suspect a late afternoon performance (5, say on Friday) would do really well as would pushing back the Fri ev’g perf to 9 ish (for shorter shows). In both cases, audience would not have to rush thru dinner, but could eat more at leisure after or before the show. I suspect this would be better for New Yorkers. As is clear now, different types of shows need different perf times. The Wednesday matinee and its audience has been dying for years. Those poor, tired matinee ladies no longer have anyone to go to the theatre with. When Nancy G and I saw Hedda Gabler a few years ago with Kate Burton, one of those ladies sat behind Nancy and when Hedda killed herself, matinee lady said” well, they’re all better off without her.
    Empirical question: is there an advantage to being one of the few shows performing at a given time?
    A very standardized industrial society gave rise to standardized performance times. That’s all over
    Ed Weissman

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