How to wage war on the Broadway discount sites. Part I

Whether you know it or not, we’ve been at war for years.

Our enemy?  The discount sites . . . the code farms . . . those not-so-secret online destinations where customers, some of whom might have paid full price to see your show, can now find a cheaper way in.

Discounts have their place on Broadway, and in almost every business market there is.  But what the all-to-easy to share information world wide web did to us (and to everyone from governments (wikileaks) to celebrities (hacked phone photos)), was allow people to find this information with a few keystrokes.  And therefore a lot of discounts that were intended to be private niche-audience missile shots of advertising, became public prices.

Simply put, here’s the new sales process for so many consumers (including myself), in play form.

LIGHTS UP on The CONSUMER watching television. He sees a commercial.  He likes what he sees.

CONSUMER:  I want to buy that (insert any product here).


CONSUMER:  Hmmm, but I’d also like to save money. Who doesn’t?

The CONSUMER goes to his computer and opens up a window full of Google.

CONSUMER:  (Typing)  (NAME OF PRODUCT) discount.

CONSUMER’s eyes light up as a website after website pop up offering codes, coupons, and cut rates on (NAME OF PRODUCT)

The CONSUMER makes his purchase, gets his product and saves money.  He will do this again.


Admit it.  This is you, right?  It’s me, that’s for sure.  If my asst. gets a task of booking a rental car or buying office supplies or anything, for that matter, she knows to Google a discount first and fast.

It’s the way of the new world.

And that way puts such a large percentage of your sales (50% or more on some shows) in the discount bin, and out of your control.

Well, here we’ve come up with one simple way to wage war against these sites and gain back a little bit of control that we know you want.

It’s pretty simple, and very effective.

I’ll outline it for you tomorrow.


(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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  • Lisa says:

    Here is why I believe the discount tickets are important.
    1. It gets people who are priced out of the climbing expense of the entertainment. $14 for a movie plus $6 for popcorn plus $6 for a drink is still better than $150 per ticket for a night out on a date or for a family of 4 or more. For some that may be a month’s entertainment budget.
    2. It fills empty seats. If your show does not have the review/star power/ word of mouth/ buzz to get people into the seat – the relative discount maybe the incentive to do it.
    3. The purpose of live theater, IMHO, is to share thoughts, ideas, human experience and catharsis with your audience – this is why people produce obscure dramas, classics, musicals etc – there has to be something that resonates with the human soul. Theater is by the people, for the people. Not just the richest people. Discount codes and nights help more people experience your art.
    3. If your show cannot run on mostly full priced tickets, then your show is simply not as good as you think. There have been shows, that I have been happy to shell full price for because it lives up to it’s reputation. There are others that I am glad I didn’t pay full price for because they just were too flawed, but may have been worth my $70 vs my $150. As a consumer that falls on the quality of the product. No one wants to lose money on a train wreck, but sometimes I have felt duped.
    4. The cost of coming to the theater probably explains why although revenues are up – attendance is slightly down.

  • Eb says:

    Ditto the above. Well said. I see almost every show that comes out each season. Usually at a discount and often in previews. With no reviews or feedback available when i buy the tickets, I am taking the risk as to quality of the show. The shows in preview are usually not frozen and at times have major sound and lighting flaws, missed cues, not to mention some shows have closed before they open.

    If I had to pay full price for every show I saw, I would not go to two thirds of them at $200 a ticket, plus parking, plus food.

    That being said, I will pay full price for some shows, and am a repeat attender at many.

  • Nick says:

    I agree with Lisa and Eb. While I pay full price at times (OUTRAGEOUS full-prices sometimes, I might add), if it weren’t for those discounts that make good seats more affordable I would not be able to see as many shows as I do. I think high prices turn off the average, casual theater-goer. I think filling seats is the way to go, and those packed audiences become REPEAT customers who over time spend more going to more shows, buying more merchandising, being “word-of-mouth” and social media ambassadors for theater than the ones who pay full price to maybe see one select show a year or every few years.

  • BB says:

    Even worse – sometimes the buyer isn’t even thinking discount but they google the name of your show and all the discount site come up first. Now you have a full-price customer using a discount code when they were perfectly happy paying full price.

  • Rich says:

    My take on this is somewhat different. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but each Show’s Producer has to Ok & set parameters for the discounting process. If Producers did not allow the discount process to exist, it simply wouldn’t. If correct, what we’re now talking about is more theater goers taking advantage of Producer-allowed-discounts, offered by 3rd party websites and other sources, which have chosen to market more aggressively. Can’t blame these sources, that’s where they feel the money is. Bottom line: Producers need to more thoroughly analyze the benefits afforded from discounting, exercise greater control over this process & and learn to control their own destiny

  • Andrew Beck says:

    Rich makes some salient points. I also understand that the prevalence of discounts prompts people who can afford to pay full price to opt for discounts first. I try to stick with the discounts sent to me by the producers themselves or through other theaters that the producers have asked (or maybe even paid)to send the offer to me. Now unemployed and oft-rejected for new jobs, I find I need to rely on discounts more, though I will pay full price for a better seat for a show or performer I really want to see. I have even been known to pay premium price back when I was employed for a show I wanted to see close up. I like the idea of time limits on the discounts and some windows seem to be getting shorter and I do appreciate when I am obviously targeted by the production itself for a discount either through direct mail or enmail.

  • Jared W says:

    Obviously, the high cost of theatre is part of why discounts are so prevelant. I continue to believe that if shows offered more seats in the $60-$70 range discounts wouldn’t be as necessary.

    One small think that I think has a bigger affect on purchasing habits than we want to admit is processing fees. They are quite honestly ridiculous, and can sometimes add $20 or more per ticket. So someone may be willing to pay $130 per ticket, but by the time you factor in handling fees the price is more like $150 a ticket, and that extra money pushes a show out of a person’s price point. So they find discounted tickets that when all is said and done probably cost about the same as a full-price ticket would if it didn’t have any surcharges.

  • Mark Briner says:

    The sad fact is that Broadway is pricing itself out of the average customer’s price range. Even with discounts, I can’t afford to take the whole family to see a show anymore. It’s me and one child for a special occasion. The price the producers are setting needs to be addressed. My first Broadway shows in the 80’s were costing $40-70, and TKTS was a flat 50% for all day of sales. True, the cost of living has gone up but my income is not quadruple what I made back then. And back then when theatre was affordable there was no need for discount sites. Just full price and and TKTS. Everyone from the unions on down need to take a hard look at the role they’re playing in the ridiculously escalated costs.

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