The flip side of yesterday’s post.

While the rules of blogging aren’t as strict as the rules of reporting, I still like to present both sides of a situation.

And while I was researching yesterday’s post about the amazing story of Once and its record recoupment, I tripped over a little fact about the upcoming Broadway Week promotion that I thought was “interesting” and unfortunately a wee-bit alarming.

Don’t know what Broadway Week is?

It’s a fantastic promotion offering “Buy 1 Get 1 Free” tickets to a bunch of Broadway shows sponsored by The Broadway League and NYC & Company. (Which is the best part, because they buy a ton of media promoting the offer.)  And it’s planned (of course) at a time of year when shows could use the help, from 9/4 – 9/16. (There’s a winter version as well.)

Some of the shows willing to hack their price in half during Broadway Week? (Which is actually almost two weeks.)

Well, there’s Chaplin, Bring It On, Chicago.  And there’s Mamma Mia, Mary Poppins, and even Wicked.

And then there’s Porgy and Bess and Evita.

Huh.  That’s funny.  The only two nominees for Best Revival this year that are still running, including the winner, need a 50% off promotion.

Wait, there’s also . . .

Nice Work If You Can Get It, Newsies and . . . wait for it . . . Once.

Yep, all three still-running nominees for Best Musical, including the big ol’ winner, are part of Broadway Week.

(You can see more of the shows included in this article.)

What does this mean?

Well, it ain’t the best of news when the “best” that we have to offer have to resort to these kinds of deep and public promotions . . . and so soon.

But am I freakin’ out?

Nah.  What this demonstrates is that we are living in a discounting world.  And that it’s possible necessary for producers today to be flexible with their pricing strategies both on the downside and on the upside.  You may have to be more aggressive at times to make sure you house is full and your nut is covered.  But there are also times of the year when if you are really “the best” (in an audience’s eyes, not an awards committee’s, actually), you’ll be able to stretch your price into premium territory to balance it out.

It would be great if all pricing could be set-it-and-forget-it.  It would free up a lot of time for all of us.

But no one said Producing was easy.

That’s not true.  Someone I know did say that once.

I think he’s doing marketing for an exterminator now.

(P.S.  Take advantage of Broadway Week!)


(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below!  Email subscribers, click here then scroll down, to say what’s on your mind!)

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  • Garry says:

    2 Things:

    1. Lots of “the best” restaurants participate in Restaurant Week – and sometimes that $35 for dinner is way more than half off.

    2. Once is only offering the 2-for-1 deal on their partial view seats, which lately have been ending up at TKTS anyway. So it’s really a great way for them to move those tickets without having to wait until the day of the show.

  • A Contrarian says:

    Why is not better to do Buy 1 Get 1 Free than send to TKTS? I really think it’s better to have full houses than 80%.

    Goldman talked about even the big hits having seats available early in the week and suggested a campaign based on this. Something like: “Come to ‘Fiddler’ on Tuesday night — and bring 100 of your Best Friends.”

  • PDXComposer says:

    Not a big surprise. Looking at the weekly sales stats we marvel at the percentage of house (seats) sold and not the gross revenue (because how could we know what the discount ticket values are doing to the total weekly revenue?) Simply put, a show filling 92% of their seats seems to be a hit vs another show selling only 62% of the house – even if at full price.

    If we were to assume that two 1,000 seat theaters were selling seats at $50 – one selling at full price and getting 60% occupancy while the other sells 40% of their seats at 50% and get a 90% occupancy – they both gross the same full price revenue, but the larger sold seat house (B) gets an added 400 seats at 50% of ticket price. They both have to meet their daily nut and we presume they do, keeping the doors open, even if not paying back investors, at 50-60% occupancy. But, Theater B is earning that added 40% seat revenue, even at half price, to help settle the investor’s debt.

    And the show with the greater occupancy gets the appearance of being more successful, more in ticket demand – which is great for PR.

    And when shows are selling out several weeks in advance due to discounts, it’s forcing some buyers to pay full price for the few tickets still available or being scalped.

    Plus, filling seats means more people providing word of mouth endorsements to friends and family. As long as these are positive, it equates to potential added sales – even if discounted. One could say that the discount is the cost of getting more advertising (via word of mouth. If only they could write off the lost revenue as a marketing expense!)

    And how many visiting audiences REALLY say bad things about shows they’ve spent money on – since the error of having spent the money on bad tickets is a reflection on them? So folks coming in from upstate, PA, MA and more are gonna be very generous in their reviews, endorsing attendance.

    For the out-of-towners, the price is great, they’ll rave about the experience and are expected, by word of mouth, to sell more tickets.

    Does this comment make me look cynical?

  • Since you always talk about ‘ticket pricing’ pros and cons, maybe the solution is to get the cost of shows a little less than they are. Broadway, my opinion, has followed Hollywood in making budgets for shows. Above the line: Producers and Directors and Stars get paid huge, inflated fees. Then come the trades and last are the investors. In order to get the above the line costs first in, on opening, ticket prices are high. After those “guys” get their piece, they reduce the price. I’m not a Broadway Genius, but it’s apparent that when Shows, en masse go the 2-fer route (normally used for a failing show) all business is becoming a little slow. Those gigantic productions, in the future, could be in trouble. What do I know? —Steven J. Conners

    P.S. Do you ever respond?

  • David F. says:

    Ken, you have surprised me with this post! I’m actually a bit disappointed. Isn’t the whole idea of the promotion to give MANY resident New Yorkers as well as visitors the opportunity to go see a Broadway show who can’t always afford the prices? What a wonderful way to give back to the community to hopefully develop future audiences. Theatre, the arts in general, needs all the help it can get. I commend the League for creating this promotion and I would encourage all to join in the spirit for the reason it was created. Thank you!

  • Jim Joseph says:

    Hi Ken, have to disagree with you on this one. The purpose of Broadway Week is to market Broadway as an industry — it’s used to kick off the unofficial start of the new season. A show’s participation doesn’t necessarily equate their need to ove inventory as much as it’s their producer’s realization that it’s in the best interests of the long term marketability of their shows as well as the Broadway brand.

  • Ian says:

    It looks like Newsies is included on Broadway Week because on because Jeremy Jordan is leaving the show on 9/4…and BOGO tickets go on sale 9/5. Figures…

  • Lauren says:

    David and Jim have it exactly right. Obviously, if Wicked is participating, we’re not seeing this promotion cover only shows that need a boost. It’s like rush seats. Wicked and Mormon are two of a handful that could easily sell those seats at premium prices and make significantly more money on them, but they don’t out of a spirit of participation and inclusivity.

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