End of Q1 Results for Broadway’s 2013-14 Season

I just didn’t want to admit it.

I didn’t want to admit that summer was over, which is why I flew by the end of Broadway’s first 13-week cycle last week without my usual blog announcing how we are doing so far.

Yep, it’s true, the first quarter of our ’13-’14 season is in the history books.

But now that I look at the results, I’m kind of wishin’ I never did.

I’m not sounding the alarm bells just yet, but I definitely have my finger on my “I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up” button . . . because something don’t feel so right.

Let’s look at the numbers.


  • So far this season, we’ve grossed $303,156,021.
  • Last season at the end of Q1 we were at $302,393,343.
  • That’s an increase of .3% for the season so far.  (wah-wah)


  • 2,832,678 people have seen Broadway shows so far this season.
  • 3,103,913 people had seen Broadway shows at this point last year.
  • That’s a . . . son of a $#&*@ . . . 8.7% DECLINE from last year.
  • There were 321 playing weeks after the first quarter this year.
  • There were 379 playing weeks after the first quarter last year.
  • That’s a decrease of 15.3% from last season.

So unless you are blind as a bat wearing polarized sunglasses, then you can plainly see why I’m about to call “First Response.”

Attendance is down 8.7%.  That’s serious.


Well, it’s not just that we’re down 8.7%.  It’s that at the end of last season, we were down 6.2% from the previous year!  And that decrease was despite having five more shows in that season than the season before.

And that was the second season in a row that we’ve seen an attendance decline.

If you look at those stats above you can see that the attendance decline is directly attributed to the massive decrease in playing weeks.  You’d think there were less shows, right?  Simple to explain?

Well, that’s wrong.  There was actually one more in the 13th week of our current season than last season.  (That means that we lost a bunch at the beginning of the quarter – and not as many shows are making it into the summer post Tonys.)

Obviously, the season ain’t over until Neil Patrick Harris sings the closing number on the Tony Awards . . . so we have a long way to go.

But we are in the hole over 8.7%.  And that’s despite putting at least 4 big $1mm hits in the theaters last year (My Kinky BootsMatilda, Motown and Pippin).

If we don’t dig ourselves out . . . our numbers will fall three years in a row . . . and, you can bet your bippy I’ll be screaming, “Our attendance has fallen and we GOTTA get ’em up!”

See tomorrow’s blog as to why I’m concerned.


(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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  • David Merrick Jr says:

    Here’s whats is the Number # Reason:

    People think that ticket prices are too high!

    Sure, red-hot hits like Your KINKY BOOTS and BOOK OF MORMON (still!) can continue to GOUGE their respective audiences (BOM especially is out of control) with outlandish premium prices. What’s amazing is when you’re asked to pay $350 a pop for the back rows of the orchestra…whoa!

    Or $477 a pop for BOM. Yowsa!

    But even regular tix are $130-$150. And sure there are discounts to be had, but a lot of folks are just turned off.

    We’re used to it because we work in this business, but John Q. Public isn’t as understanding.

  • Liz says:

    I agree; it’s all about ticket prices. When I lived in NYC I loved Broadway, spent hours at TKTS so I could get into a show. Now I bring my family back on a regular basis and each year we limit the number of shows because of ticket prices. I guess that makes me John Q. Public…really David? If we can make Broadway more affordable, we will find people tripping over each other to get there.

  • Ever higher ticket prices are having their way. Watch as the current hits burn out far earlier than they need too.

    The current model of sky high prices, idiotically high premium prices coupled with pervasive discounts and TDF mayhem is not sustainable for the long term health of Broadway.

  • Howard says:

    And, in fact, despite the drop in attendance, grosses went UP a little, so no pain at the Box Office. Doesn’t that show how prices must be going up? And doesn’t it make sense that this is at least one reason why fewer seats are sold?

    • DW says:

      No pain at the box office but with over 200,000 fewer people at the concession and souvenir stands has lots of pain associated with it. Thats the high margin aisle.

      If you project that out a full year and use 1 million fewer butts and an average price of $25.00 per butt spent on ancillaries that is 25 million a year on the low side they are missing out on.

  • Bruce says:

    My comments are going to be all over the place as I have a lot to say on this matter. Ken, this can’t come as a surprise to you. What everyone above has said is true. It’s the ticket prices. Who can afford Bway anymore? The increase in the gross is totally immaterial. You’re right to focus on the attendance decline. But stop complaining and do something about it. You complain about declining attendance. You complain about producers using discounts. I don’t see you and your producer community doing anything to rectify the situation. Is the problem the unions? I can afford to go to the theatre a lot now. But when I retire, it’s going to be a different story. I wonder with the baby boomers retiring if declining attendance is going to become even greater.

    • DW says:

      Bruce, he is doing something about. He is raising his prices!!

      The following is from THIS column in July;

      The secret to stifling scalpers . . . raise prices

      “Thanks to modern technology we have more and more tools to help even the playing field, and take back some of the money they’ve taken from us over the years. If we could capture just a few of the millions of dollars of markup that they charge every year, a lot more shows could recoup their investment.”

      I guess waiting on the first qtr numbers would have been a better move. The way I see it, they took in $1,000.00 more in ticket sales but lost $6,250,000.00 in ancillary revenue.

      He is too busy worrying about the few dollars going in someone else’s pocket now and then but failing to acknowledge the hole in his own pocket it created.

  • A Contrarian says:

    And what’s happening with the Wednesday Matinee Audience?

  • DW says:

    Yes Ken, I have a comment for you;

    Stop worrying about how much or how much isn’t going to 2nd and 3rd parties that want to buy your tickets and fill your seats.

    Maybe it turns out that you WERE priced right and others WEREN’T taking dollars that you feel belong to you but instead WERE CREATING VALUE and ADDITIONAL REVENUE for you simply by getting butts in seats that you couldn’t reach directly.

    You are aware that not all tickets are sold for more than they are bought for, right?

    Maybe you missed that seminar at the Ticket Broker conferences you attended and were also a speaker at.

    There are only so many people that are willing to spend X$. Just because you saw a $100.00 ticket sell for $250.00 to a SOLD OUT show ONCE), doesnt mean you can apply that theory to 15 rows of seats (including the sides) and then the front of the mezz for EVERY SHOW and think that is gonna work across the board…LOL.

    Your job is to put butts in seats and make a profit. You’re doing that and maintaining about the same gross (on a lower head count and fewer shows). However, while your doing that,you have hundreds of thousands of people buying your over priced T-Shirts, Posters, Cast recordings, Books, over priced refreshments and drinks and all the other ancillary revenue that comes with an increased head count that buys your high margin goods.

    I see 2 solutions for ya Ken;

    1.) sell off the overpriced, very valuable Manhattan real estate because with the numbers going the way they are, you simply can get rid of a few buildings and probably bring in hundreds of millions of dollars. I think LYV just sold the Mohegan Theater for 50 million and that was just one building!

    2.) Stop worry about Maximizing the revenue off every seat in the house and price your show correctly to begin with. This creates “BUZZ” and buzz creates sellouts.

    Naturally sellouts would lead to longer runs of shows and since development $$$ wont be spent as frequently, expenses for such will decrease as well adding to the bottom line (substantially in my opinion – just ask anyone with 1 show that’s been running for 10-20 years).

    Look at the pricing models around you. Some of the wealthiest and most popular performers and performances, price their tickets reasonably and have runs and careers that go for decades profitably (Mamma Mia, Blue Man Group, the show with the Dentist and the Man Eating Plant – I cant recall the name at this late hour, – Dave Matthews Band, Garth Brooks and the list goes on and on).

    The solution to your problem is so simple. Provide good entertainment at fair prices and make a fair profit. That more than anything will put butts in seats for you. All the rest is just “noise” that will distract you.

    Keep your eye on the ball and stop concerning yourself with whats going on in someone else’s ballpark. As you can see, it only harms you

    Even though you brought in an extra $1000.00 in the first qtr my guess is you lost out on millions.

    250K less people buying stuff that doesn’t show up in the ticket price totals has to hurt much more. If each 1 of those heads spent another $25.00 (a very low avg)thats 6.2 million dollars, conservatively,not reflected in your numbers above.

    Over 4 qtrs – and the 4th qtr could be over 10 million, Im sure, I bet that’s 30-40 million in HIGH MARGIN Chatchka’s not even mentioned as part of your piece.

  • DW says:


    You wrote this just less than 2 months ago. Do you recall this? The comment from Carl White summed it up best. I also happen to know Carl. If you didnt read his comment on 7/12, you really should.

    Carl White says:
    July 13, 2013 at 10:52 am

    … and take back some of the money they’ve taken from us over the years.

    Ken, I do not understand this comment? If only fans had bought your tickets instead of scalpers how would you have made more money? In fact, being that ticket brokers and scalpers often buy more tickets than they sell and get stuck with unsold tickets the correct statement by you should be that they only actually made you more money through the years. In fact, I can not imagine any scenario where you would have made less money because of scalpers. They do not get the tickets for free and unless there are group deals or discount promotions available they pay full retail for their purchases.

    The only person that could have taken money out of your pocket would have been you by not pricing the shows correctly to maximize your profits. So are you blaming them for this? I would surmise that the secondary market could only help you in this regard as it gives you a free lesson in supply and demand, pricing, and what the market will bear for your shows. Did any scalpers ever ask you for payment for these free lessons?

    Funny how “scalpers” always get blamed for everything when all they do is speculate in a free market in a capitalist society taking 100% of the risk for what they invest in. In my humble opinion what they do represents everything that is great about living in and being able to do business in a free and capitalistic society.

    Now, if you prefer a socialist or communist society then you can start to argue they are the bad guys but I will just assume you prefer how we do it here in the USA.

  • David Merrick Jr says:

    But to be honest about it, I don’t think I’d be doing anything different than the KINKY BOOTS producers are doing.

    After mixed-to-favorable reviews, the show went on to win the Tony and it’s selling out, week to week. So they must be doing something right.

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