Will THIS Create a Pricing War on Broadway?

Big changes are afoot at one of the biggest ticket sellers on Broadway.

Starting yesterday, it was announced that the TKTS outlet at Lincoln Center no longer lists shows at 50% off, or 40% off, or any percent off.

Instead, the digital display will list the actual price of each show’s ticket . . . $199, $75, $60, etc.

Provided this test goes well, expect to see it put into effect at the primary TKTS location in the middle of Times Square, where it will have a massive impact on how tickets will be sold.

Here are just three things listing prices instead of percentages will do:

  • Speed up the purchase decision. No longer will customers have to ask for a price (or do the math) when they walk up to a window.
  • Give lower priced shows (hello Off-Broadway) a way to stand out against their high-priced competitors instead of appearing like they are the same price (two shows at 50% off sounds like the same price even though one may be half as much).
  • Eliminate the idea that the tickets are being sold at a discount. If it’s a price, it’s just a price, not a % off.  And we continue our slow but steady transition to the pricing strategies used by the airline industry, which has different prices for every day and every flight, instead of discounting every day and every flight.

I’m a super fan of this idea and applaud TDF for taking the first step in what I’m sure is quite a difficult transition.

But expect us Producers to start examining everyone else’s prices much more closely before we send tickets to “the booth.”

Because if a consumer has two shows he wants to see and can’t decide between them . . . and one of them is even $2 less per ticket?  Guess which show wins.


The exact price at the TKTS booth isn’t something that the Broadway Producer contemplates much right now.  Because the consumer isn’t comparing.

But provided the Lincoln Center test goes well (and I’m betting the price of a couple of premium tickets that it will), we’ll all have to start doing it in the future.

It’ll be a challenge, but it’s better for our consumer and for our industry, so I’m game.

You agree?


  • Andy says:

    Yes. Finally. “% of what?”…I have always said… And I also think that they shouldn’t force “best available” on you. There should be the same choice of tiers available at the box office.

  • Carvanpool says:

    The test of pricing is just that, a test. Don’t jump to any naive conclusions about how it will turn out. TKTS is trying to do anything to staunch their loss of business to the likes of TodayTix and others. If you think a two dollar difference will affect purchase decisions, you’re nuts. Btw, you may have noticed many shows offering several prices at TKTS, which creates a range of prices that may or may not include partial view seating. So much for simplifying the process, not to mention that the price boards are manually updated and unable to display accurate prices that include decimals. A labor intensive and wobbly system to start with. A successful result of the test is far from assured.

  • Rick Schneider says:

    I agree with the idea of showing actual prices instead of percent discount. But your apparent goal of moving towards “the pricing strategies used by the airline industry” is a horrible idea. Most everyone who has to buy their own airline tickets — that is, those who cannot charge their tickets to their employer — HATES airline pricing systems. It always feels like someone else gets a cheaper ticket, and so people always feel cheated by the airlines. Its bad enough theater ticket prices now change constantly, for gosh sakes don’t even think about charging more for aisle seats, center seats, or whatever. People have to fly, but no one has to see a theater performance.

    • Robert says:

      Agreed – even the thought of comparing buying Broadway tickets to airline tickets made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. That system is terrible, terrifying and frustrating.

  • Mary Brandon says:

    Call me crazy, but when I come to NYC 1-2 times a year, I go Directly to the theater box office to buy my tickets. “Why?” You may ask. Simple. I want a GOOD seat, preferably orchestra with unobstructed view. I also want to see the actors’ facial expressions & for that, I try to get within the first 10 rows. Yes, I pay much more than your Tkkts buyers BUT I come away with a Much much better experience ( & bang for my buck). And, as an amateur actress for over 40 years, I learn. SOoo much from seeing physical movement, facial expressions, vocalization, staging, and design/lightening by being up close. Cheers!

  • Robert says:

    Call me old fashioned, but I’m less likely to buy tickets at TKTS if I simply see ticket prices. “$400 for Hamilton” is not the same as “50% off Hamilton” (or whatever). Especially since A) most of those prices will now be north of $150 – so it just looks damned expensive for a discount ticket and B) I now won’t know if the discount is 30, 40 or 50% (or 10 for that matter).

  • Rick Schneider says:

    Another problem that has developed over the years is the declining discount. When the booth began back in the 1970s, it was the “half-price ticket booth.” Over the years the discount has shrunk for many shows to just 40% or even just a 30% discount. The reputation of the booth has declined, and it is no longer a bargain place to get tickets the day of the performance. The booth should return to the old rule, 50% discount, or go to the box office. Under the new plan, with only actual dollar cost shown, I expect the discounts will shrink even more.

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