Prediction: Where there is two there will be twenty.

If you’ve read my recent blog about my trip to London, you know that one of the biggest differences between our sister theater city and ourselves is that half-price tickets booths are everywhere.

The official TKTS booth in London is just one of a hundred options people have to get half price or discounted seats.  Those other half price outlets in Londontown are all brokers, most of whom have legitimate relationships with the theaters to help move inventory (and they not only sell discount tickets, but they’ll sell you full price tickets (and higher) to more in-demand shows as well).

I’ve always wondered why brokers haven’t set up similar shops here.

But now it looks like it’s starting to happen.

Americana, one of the oldest ticket brokers in the city, set up a brick and mortar shop just a few steps away from the actual TKTS booth a couple of years ago now.  I thought that was just an anomaly.

But wouldn’t you know it, just a few weeks ago, I noticed a tourist shop, just a few feet away from Americana that rents bikes and sells walking tours, had a sign in the window advertising “Save up to 50% on Broadway shows!”   They’ve even got a red sign (the color of TKTS) in the window advertising what shows they can get and at what cost, many cheaper than full price.

How are they getting these cheaper tickets?  Pretty easy, actually.  They’re using discount codes they find online, buying them at the box offices, and then reselling them.  In fact, because of their proximity to the box offices, they could literally wait until someone placed an order, and then go buy the tickets, and deliver them within 30 minutes . . . tacking on a service fee to make sure they got a nice hefty profit.  No risk.  No speculation.  And the customer just “saved” money off of the full price ticket.  And unlike TKTS, the customer can order these discount tickets for any day they want, not just day of.

The ease at which it’s possible for a company like this to go into business and make money means one thing . . . we’re going to see more of these in the future.

I’d expect that in ten years we will look like London, with every tourist trinket shop giving up some of their storefront real estate to this low risk, high profit business.

Consumers will love it.  Because they’ll have more choices than standing in the long line at the TKTS booth.

But Producers will hate it . . . because our once big secret about how to get cheap tickets to shows will be as public as Times Square itself.

And you know what that means?

We’ll have to raise ticket prices again, to account for the increased # of discount tickets.

And that’s not good for anyone.

 

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Comments
  • Frank says:

    Imagine how empty your theaters would be if there were no discounted tickets sold? It’s seems like there is a middle ground somewhere that could be found. Maybe that’s just a dream.

  • Carvanpool says:

    Hey, you just figured out discounting is bad!

    Will wonders never cease?

  • Jgrahamiii says:

    Wait for the order to buy the tickets with a public discount code? TodayTix App has been doing that at least two years now. They won’t do too far in advance, but not only same day. And, they hand you the tickets outside the box office for most Broadway Shows.

  • Robert H-P says:

    If discounting is the reason ticket prices are so high — I don’t believe it is – I believe it’s the modern “need” for A-list stars, a handful of hit plays, starting really with “The Producers” that could charge whatever they wanted, greedy theaters and the relatively recent ability for Broadway to scalp its own tickets for higher prices than face value — but IF that’s the reason. How about stop discounting (save for, say, seniors, students and charities)?

    Broadway is more profitable than it has ever been and clearly theaters benefit, one way or another, from discounted tickets. These shops are buying them, legitimately, at a massive discount and reselling them? How come the best I can get is 30% off or so, with say Plum Benefits or the various email discount houses, IF I buy them on the eight Wednesday of the month, during a full-gibbous moon when a left-handed actor is in the lead role?

    If they can get so many discounted tickets legitimately, then the problem is with the theaters, not the buyers. And the buyers shouldn’t be punished with unobtainably priced tickets.

  • Carvanpool says:

    Here’s a hint for every knucklehead that thinks discounts aren’t bad for Broadway.

    What are the discounts for Hamilton, Book of Mormon, or Wicked, or Lion King? They don’t have em. Anyone have a guess why not? Anyone?

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