What effect will the Super Bowl have on Broadway?

If you think The Return of the Polar Vortex is having a cooling effect on the Broadway Box Office, there could be an even bigger storm a brewin’ that’s set to arrive in two weeks.

Of course, I’m talking about the Super Invasion that takes place not just on Sunday, Feb 2nd, but the entire week before!  That’s when the Super Bowl comes to town in what is going to be the first Super Bowl to be played outdoors in a cold weather environment.

But the game is just the beginning!  If you haven’t heard, the street formerly known as Broadway is going to be shut down from 34th to 48th Street and temporarily renamed Super Bowl Boulevard, where it’ll feature concerts, a field goal kick and a 180 foot toboggan run!  (WTF?)  They are even billing it, “The biggest and brightest show on Broadway!”

Now, I gotta say.  I’m pretty excited about the whole thing, and I’m not even the biggest football fan on the planet.  I like “firsts” and unique events, and I’m also excited for the exposure and revenue that the SB is going to bring to our beloved and expensive city.

But how do I feel it will effect my beloved and expensive industry?

Industry insiders have been freaked about this super week for months, if not longer.  What will happen to sales?

Well, from all of the people I’ve been talking to, Super Week is definitely having an impact on the box office.  Advance sales for  w/e 2/2 are down for all types of shows up and down the street, and all the Broadway Marketers and Advertisers are meeting and scheming to come up with ways to drive sales.  Honestly, people are starting to panic.

And should we?

Here’s my prediction.

Sales are going to be down.  Duh.  Super Bowl Sunday always sucks, and it’s in our backyard.  But the week itself?  Well, I think the week is going to play out exactly like the week in which July 4th occurs every year.  Advance sales are always bad, and there are all sorts of 7/4 offers and discounts to try and minimize the losses.  Why are advance sales so bad?  Locals are out of town, so they don’t provide any foundation, and the tourists that come in are more last minute buyers, like a lot of summer visitors.

Super Bowl week is going to be the same.  A lot of locals may be heading the heck out of Dodge (and renting their apartments for thousands on AirBnB), and the tourists coming in for the game?  Well, they’ve got football on their mind.

But when they get here?

One of the things that people “must” do when the come to town is see a Broadway show.  And that’s going to hold true for that week as well.  So expect advance sales to suck (and again, from my research they do), but expect week of sales to be a lot better than the same period in recent years.

And knowing that, it’s up to you and your shows to come up with initiatives to capitalize on that potential, like . . .

  • Make friends with brokers (who are selling lots of super bowl tickets, and have access to the people that’ll be looking for something to do).
  • Make friends with concierges at the hotels which will be bursting at their occupancy seams.
  • Double or triple your street team presence.
  • Cancel your Sunday night shows.
  • Start advertising in SEATTLE and DENVER now!

It ain’t going to be so great, but that week will be better than previous years.  That’s my prediction.  And even if it isn’t.  Even if we take a big hit.  Well, the emphasis it’s going to put on this city, and on our industry, is going to be super-duper for us long term.

 

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Comments
  • Mark Shultz says:

    There was a great article in the Times yesterday that showed that only 35% of Super Bowl tickets are distributed to the competing teams. For the most part, the game is just a massive corporate meet and greet. I worry that advertising dollars spent in Denver and Seattle would be wasted.

  • diane uniman says:

    This makes SUPER sense! I’m betting your odds are right!

  • Skip Lehman says:

    Ken,
    Couldn’t agree more, cancel the Sunday shows, and get ready to be slammed from the 30th on. The hotels are gearing up for the same thing. Rooms at the Marriott Marquis are $216 on the 29th they jump to $599 on the 30th through the 2nd. Maybe only 35& of the tickets go to Denver and Seattle but probably another 55% are going to people outside the metropolitan area. which means that 90% of the SB attendees will be in town and like any other tourist they will want to see a show. Not sure what the numbers were for SB week last year but I predict they will be up 20%-25%.

  • Fran says:

    The guys will be going to the game, but the girlfriends and wives? I say do advertising that appeals to the women.

    When I don’t work Sundays, I’d get together with some girlfriends and get tickets to a show – usually Off Broadway.

    Let the guys have their day. Advertise to the women.

    • neil says:

      This is kinda sexist. You’ll probably find 40 percent of the fans in the stands are women. The SB is an EVENT, not just a FB game. Why should the female sit in some darkened theater catching “Richard III” while “he’s” out having the fun and soaking up priceless memories?

  • Zanne Hall says:

    I remember I had a staged reading at the Mint during SB & there was only one man in the audience!

  • Demetrius says:

    Great thoughts and ideas, Ken – thanks!

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