Why I’m predicting a Broadway Market Correction in the next 12 months.

Unless you’ve been trapped in tech somewhere, then you probably have heard the news that the stock market has gotten hammered over the past few days.  As of yesterday, we had dropped 2,000 points in the last week.

If that’s not a market correction, I don’t know what is.

Financial pundits analyze markets all the time, trying to determine when the next one of these corrections will occur.  They look at seasons, events, and all sorts of things to try and determine a pattern . . . a pattern that they can profit from, or a pattern that can help them stem their losses.

That’s when I thought . . . I wonder if I could do the same thing?  If I took a look at the grosses over the past few decades, would I see a pattern of rises and falls and flatlines . . . and would I be able to find some sign posts that could tell me when we might be faced with a correction of our own?

So I did it.

And I found some of those sign posts.

And, well . . . . you want the good news or the bad news?

The good news is, we’ve been on a helluva run.  The bad news is . . . it’s about to end.

First, let’s look at the data.  The graph below is a chart of the grosses since 1985.  You’ll notice that we don’t see any plunges in the chart line.  Newsflash – that’s good.  In the modern age, our gross box office receipts never truly drop by significant amounts . . . but they do flatline.  And that’s what I focused on.  (The one big dip you’ll see is the season of September 11th, which is why it’s a bit of an anomaly.)

Take a look and then keep reading . . .

grosses

You can probably eyeball what I’m going to say next, can’t you?  Yep, you can see that the flatline periods are occurring at almost a regular rate since the turn of the century . . . on average, every 3.67 years.  Our last one was during the 2011-12 season.  Which was about 4 years ago.  So . . . there’s sign #1 that we’re due for a market correction.  For some, that might be enough.

But wait, there’s more.

You know what else happens every four years, and has also coincided with our last four market corrections?

If you said Presidential elections, you’d be right.

The country world becomes obsessed with who’s going to lead the US.  There’s nervousness, anger and a lot more ads on television about politics than there are about plays and musicals.  Why do people need to go to shows when there’s so much drama in elections nowadays?  They don’t.  So grosses stay flat.

And I’ll give you zero guesses as to what we have coming up next year.  Yep, a Trump-infused doozy of an election.

So there’s sign #2 that we’re due for a market correction.

But wait, wait . . . there’s even more.

There was another answer to that ‘what happens every four years’ question, that has also coincided with our last four market corrections.

If you said the Summer Olympics, you’d also be right.

The country world becomes obsessed with who is going to win the most medals in this televised and several weeks-long athletic drama.  And it just so happens that the summer is Broadway’s strongest season . . . so when the Olympics are on, it costs us business.

And that’s right, my peeps, we have a Summer Olympics coming up less than a year from now.

And there we have the power of three, and the 3rd reason we’re due for a market correction.

So, to sum up why we’re facing a bit of a downturn in the coming year, in the modern era:

  • Broadway market corrections happen every 3.67 years, and it has been about that since our last one.
  • Broadway market corrections happen during every Presidential election and we have one in the coming year.
  • Broadway market corrections happen during every Summer Olympic year and we have one in the coming year.

Oh, and . . .

  • Broadway market corrections also happen during leap years, and this coming year is one of those too.

So it’s been a good ride, but a correction is coming.

Why do I bring this up?  Is it to be a doomsayer?

No.  I’m not trying to tell you the sky is falling . . . I’m here to say that what goes up, must come down (or in our case, go flat), and the more we know and understand when these things happen, the more we can be prepared to overcome them, or avoid them altogether. (If I were a long running show, I’d start looking at more promotions during some of these big events, and even more importantly, cutting costs – you can’t out-advertise the Olympics or Elections.)

And while sure, I may be saying we’re due for a downturn, but take another look at that gross graph above.  We always go back up . . . and we always go back up pretty quickly.  Like the stock market, Broadway is about the long term.  And even if we take a few steps back this year, I’m bullish on Broadway for the future.

See you all in a year, to see if my prediction rings true.

Anyone want to lay a bet?

 

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Comments
  • Alexander Donnelly says:

    Ken, I love you, but I have to disagree completely with your analysis

    1) Leap years, presidential elections, and summer olympics are always the same year. Every year that is divisible by four, in fact. 2016 will not be special in that regard
    2) If we can agree that 2016 will be no more special than say 2012 or 2008, than your claim that a correction occures every 3.67 years is incompatible with the ‘divisible by 4 years’ theory. 3.67yrs lines up better with stock market corrections, which I will go into below.

    Bringing a little Wall Street analysis to your post, here are the reasons I predict that we will NOT have a correction next year.

    1) Supreme Court rulings: Upholding Obamacare and Gay Marriage. Making healthcare cheaper (putting more money in consumer’s pockets) and providing more reasons to celebrate. Means more money and travelers coming into NYC. Good for industries that benefit from tourism, like Broadway
    2)Fed Rate Hike : Scheduled for sometime between September – December, when the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, you get compensated more for keeping your money in a savings account (though you will also be charged more on home loans, etc). As american’s have been paying off more of their debt during the past 6 years since the 2008 crisis, this should be a net benefit to consumers. As a second bonus, the stock market historically performs well during rate hikes
    3) Every 3.67 yrs lines up a little bit better with stock market crashes than you give credence to here. .com bubble in 99/2000, double dip recession in mid to late 2011. Outside of what happened on Monday, most wall street analysts expect this to be another good year for stocks. (Fed rate hike is good for financial institutions, fed government is spending more on infrastructure, etc.)

    The three points above give me confidence that we will NOT have a broadway GBOR correction in 2015-2016. And since you asked, I am willing to make a bet. An hour consulting services for an hour of financial planning advice?

    -Alex

    • Brock Lee says:

      Good to hear Alex!!! Thank You for the analysis that gives us another perspective. I was quick to agree with Ken, but after reading your comment I realized that I hadn’t considered what you mentioned. And although things, at times, do seem to be challenging, Thank G-d for the Internet and the many people like You and Ken who have knowledge that proves helpful for so many. Thanks again for Your Comment.

      Best,
      Brock

  • Carvanpool says:

    No such thing as a crystal ball. Flip a coin, it’s just as valid.

    Looking backwards, (which doesn’t predict the future), the flat lines coincided with worldwide economic upheavals. (Short memory?) If we have another flat line, or drop, it’ll have more to do with the worldwide economic chaos than the Republican Dwarf Toss events or the Men’s Basketball team at the Olympics.

    Also, ’88, ’92, ’96, and ’00 don’t seem to have any significant drops. The first Gulf War in ’90 had a drop, and of course, September 11. Other than that, the Greater Fool Theory seems to apply as rising prices do not deter Broadway revenues.

  • Ben Viagas says:

    I’d love to see a version of this graph adjusted for inflation. Also, if you’re getting into this whole thing, I’d love to see a Broadway version if the Purchasing Managers Index. Maybe a formal survey of advance sales for the next holiday season? Hotel vacancy rates? LORT commission dollars spent?

  • Ken Wydro says:

    What is more important than historic trends is the shows that are available to be seen in 2015-2916 season HAMILTON and the other mega hits like LION KING, WICKED will continue to be strong. As will PARIS and ROTTEN. Stars like Pacino, Bruce Willis, Tyson/Jones, AudraMcD/Stokes Mitchell/Billy Porter, Jennifer Hudson,Kevin Bacon, Jesse Mueller plus the hot and sexy new couple in ON YOUR FEET. Even the Roundabout and MTC have more commercial properties coming like Keira Knightley. Cynthia Errivo is going to be great in COLOR PURPLE – I saw her in London – and could very well win Best Actress in a Musical. Lots of people will want to see most, if not all of these new productions. I know I will

  • Scott says:

    What does this graph look like if we just look at paid attendance figures? And maybe paid plus comps?

  • Realist says:

    All it will take for a ‘dip’ is 1 nut-job or terrorist action in Times Square that results in loss of life.
    Ghost Town, just like after 9-11.

    Every theater (including movie theaters) should have a metal detector & bag check for every performance, not just when the prez attends or the production is Assassins.

    IMO.

  • I agree with you, Ken. I would also say that it is worth taking a look not only at grosses, but actual attendance figures, which might make us a even less sanguine about the future. Only in the arts can we get all oogly-googly ecited about a 7.5% rise in attendance, which in business would be little more than a blip if it wasn’t sustained for a longer period.

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