Three reasons why theater tickets are NOT expensive.

There’s a rule in consumer research that’s especially true for Broadway . . . when asking your research subjects why they haven’t purchased something, don’t ever give them “too expensive” as an option for them to choose . . . because they will always say things are too pricey and you can never get an accurate read on what they really felt (because the truth is they are not saying it’s too expensive, they are saying there is not enough value in the product).

And when you’re dealing with theater tickets, people 101% always say they are too expensive . . . because they are, dangit.

But wait, that’s actually not always true.  There are cheap ways to see Broadway shows and Off Broadway shows.  And now, thanks to the post-Labor Day Blues, the Back to Schools, and the upcoming Jewish holidays, is the perfect time for anyone on a budget to see a show (or for those who want to binge watch a bunch of shows for the price of one).

Here are three ways theater tickets are cheap right now.

1.  Broadway Week

NYC & Co, the official organization for New York tourism, is currently sponsoring Broadway Week, which allows you to snag 2-for-1 tickets on a ton of shows.  But hurry, a lot of the shows’ allocations for these cheepee tickets are already gone, and the promotion only lasts through September 20th.  Click here to see a list of the shows and how to order the tickets (and yep, Spring Awakening has just a few tickets left).

2.  20at20

One of the most aggressive and exciting promotions on the market starts this coming Monday and runs through October 4th only.  20at20 was started, oh, about eight years ago now by a group formerly known as the Off Broadway Brainstormers who were dedicated to shining a spotlight on Broadway shows for the local NYC market (yep, I was one of the original members of that group and one of the first organizers of 20at20).  The idea behind the promotion is simple.  20 minutes before the start of a show, a bunch of tickets are sold for $20.  That’s right, only $20!  And this year, over 40 shows are participating!  Click here to see them all, and then start making a list of all the shows you want to see (you could literally see seven Off Broadway shows for the price of one Broadway show!).  I’d suggest putting Daddy Long Legs and That Bachelorette Show on that list.  But hey, that’s just me.  🙂

3.  Off Broadway Week

Broadway Week’s little brother starts on September 21st and runs through October 4th, and features the same 2-for-1 special.  Why use this promotion instead of 20at20?  The locations are a little better, and it doesn’t require you waiting in line and there’s no risk of you not getting in to see a show.  So if you want a little more security in your show shopping, check out Off Broadway Week.

And wait, here’s a bonus!

4.  A Tip about the TKTS Booth

I know, you know all about the TKTS booth, but what you may not know is that this is the time of year when almost every single show in Times Square is on the boards.  This week alone, I saw all of the new shows from last season on the boards including An American in Paris, Something Rotten!, Curious Incident, and even the Best Musical Tony Award-winning Fun Home.  And not only are there a plethora of new shows to choose from, but because the tourists have all flown south and east and west for the winter, there are no lines most of the day.  Lots of shows, no waiting.  September is the best time of year to TKTS shop.  Click here to see real time listings of what shows are available without leaving your house!

It’s easy to use the excuse that theater tickets are too expensive and that’s why you don’t go.  But this time of year, that excuse doesn’t hold H20.  It just doesn’t.  So get out there and see a show.  Not only will you save a ton of money, but you’ll also be helping to support the Broadway and Off Broadway community at a time when it really needs it.

If you’ve got other tips on how to save money on seeing shows, chuck ’em in the comments below.  And enjoy seeing tons of shows this September!

(By the way, a great way to save money months in advance is to buy group tickets to see shows with your school, church or just a bunch of friends.  Click here to learn more more.)

 

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StubHub’s stockings are filled with tickets.

Stubhub Stockings Broadway TicketsI’ve never purchased tickets through StubHub.  But I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately (it was their advertising campaign that wormed its way into my brain – like a good advertising campaign should).

So today I decided to click on over to the site to see just what the heck was being hocked.

And would you look at that!  One of the shows they were selling (oh wait, sorry, StubHub’s attorneys would be quick to point out that StubHub doesn’t sell anything, it just connects people . . . you know, like Napster and LimeWire did before they were shut down for causing financial havoc to an industry) . . .  one of the shows they were “connecting” was mine!  Kinky Boots!

I was interested in seeing what people were paying for seats on this “connector” site, so I clicked on December 27th and . . .

What . . .

What the . . .

What the @$#%?

I know what you’re thinking . . . that I’m stutter-swearing because of the price of the tickets.  But noooooo.  I’m st-st-stutter-cussing because StubHub is currently listing 523 tickets for sale for that performance.

523!!!

We’ve got 1424 seats at The Hirschfeld.  That means 37% of the capacity for that one performance is on a secondary sales site.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I checked the availability of tickets for other shows on the same performance day (12/27).

Lion King has 508 tickets available.

Wicked has 338 tickets available.

Book of Mormon has 159 tickets (much smaller theater).

How is it that such a huge percentage of tickets are being sold on a secondary site?

Well, it may be because some of the tickets up there are dups . . . as Brokers sometimes put up seats (without specifying the exact locations) they don’t actually have yet but they know they can get from another source.  And then another broker puts up those same/similar seats because they know they can get them from the same source.

So there may be some dups.

But ok, let’s say that HALF of them are dups.  In the Kinky example, that would still be 18.5% of the house.  Or even a quarter of them would still be almost 10% of the house on one performance!

And even if there are dups . . . should there really be that many people trying to sell these seats away from the primary site?  And many of them DO actually have exact ticket locations on the site . . . shouldn’t we try and at least spot check some of these to see how they were acquired?  To see who is selling them?  To make sure the industry/artists/investors aren’t losing revenue that it should be receiving?

It’s a sticky wicket, because we do live in a free market society.  And if I buy something I don’t need anymore, or don’t want anymore, or just want to try and make a few bucks on, I should be able to sell it to someone who does need it/want it/or who wants to try and make a few bucks on it himself (that’s what the real estate market and any market is all about).

But something seems to have gone a little awry considering the amount of Broadway tickets that are available (even if many are just virtually available).

But what can be done?

Well, when Ticketmaster saw the incredible profit potential in the secondary market, it went out and bought TicketsNow . . . and now they have their own secondary market.

Think Telecharge will ever do the same?  Should they?  Should they not?  Let me hear ya . . .

 

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How many tickets did Broadway sell on Black Friday?

So how many did we sell?  Are you ready?  Drumroll please . . .

The answer is . . .

I have no idea.

Nor do I have any idea how many tickets we sold on Cyber Monday.

I do know how the rest of the business world did (down on Black Friday, up on Thanksgiving).  Heck, I even know the results of specific retailers thanks to articles like this one.

But Broadway’s sales results on one of the biggest sale dates of the year?

God The Ticketing Agencies only know.

Broadway publishes its grosses every week, both as an aggregate and on an individual show by show basis.  There have been many an argument to stop publishing the numbers, but it never gets very far.  One of the best arguments I’ve heard for publishing the results is because that’s what big business does.  Hollywood reports its grosses, so why not Broadway?  If we want people to take us seriously as an industry, then yes, we gotta open up our books.

That’s why I’m advocating that we also start revealing sales figures on important days throughout the year. Individual shows sometimes do it after opening (but only to brag).  But how about how we sold over the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend?  Or how sales were during the Jewish Holidays in September?  Or after the Tony Awards?  We know ratings, but how much does the industry as a whole sell the next day?

We’re obsessed with grosses.  I publish them on my blog every Monday because so many people asked for them.

But we seem to forget about the daily/weekly sales figures . . . but since those numbers represent future earnings, they may be more important.

Now we just have to figure out how to make them public.

 

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Look what’s poppin’ up all over!

Pop Up BroadwayPop . . . pop . . . pop.

What’s that you hear?  Is it the sound of my old school favorite snack, Jiffy Pop Popcorn?

Unfortunately not.

It’s the sound of the newest fad in retail . . . the pop-up store.

For those of you who don’t have a poppin’ clue what I’m talking about, a pop-up store is a shop that takes over a retail space for a short period of time, usually around a certain event, and then is gone . . . almost as fast as it came.

One of the first successful examples of this in the city was the Halloween Costume pop-ups that started appearing a few years ago in the weeks leading up to Halloween.  And then, when the sun rose on November, like a ghostly spirit they disappeared . . . only to return again the following year.

There was one such Halloween pop-up in the space-formerly-occupied-by-Colony Records.

And after it disappeared like Brigadoon this year, another pop-up took its place.  And this one was selling Christmas (see photo below).

Christmas Store

Well imagine my surprise when I walked by what used to be my favorite slice place in Manhattan just one block away from Colony, and found another pop-up Christmas store in its place.

I gotta hand it to the owners of the real estate for loosening up their usual year long leases and finding a way to monetize their “dark time” between long term tenants.  The pop-up store is a win-win for both sides.

And obviously it’s working.

It’s working so well that I see it expanding pretty soon to other areas.  Like, oh, I don’t know . . . tickets?

We’re in the busiest time of the year right now. Those huge numbers that were posted in last week’s grosses (Kinky Boots grossed 1.9 million!  Take that Twitter-bombers!) are just the beginning.  Wait until you see what happens in the week between Christmas and New Year’s!

So I think it’s just a matter of time before someone pops up a store to take advantage of all those people roaming around through Times Square looking for a show.  But who will it be?

Will it be Telecharge?  Ticketmaster?  Broadway.com?  Or . . . another broker?  (There’s already one broker that has a store a block away from the booth, and it seems to be doing decent enough business.)

Online sales are great.  But at certain times of the year, an ol’ fashioned brick and mortar strategically placed can capture people that the web can’t.

A pop-up ticket store will happen.  The only question is who will get there first.

(Oh, and btw, the title of this blog is a heck of a lot more fun if you read it to the tune of “June is Bustin’ Out All Over” from Carousel.)

 

 

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TKTS. It ain’t just for discounts anymore.

Talk to tourists about where they get tickets to Broadway shows, and a lot of them will say, “The Tickets Booth” or “That red place in the middle of Times Square” or “Where the people line up, you can’t miss it.”

Because of its location, and its brand-iful branding, the TKTS booth has become a go-to destination for ticket shopping . . . regardless of whether the shoppers were looking for a discount or not.

Well, TDF, the org that runs TKTS, addressed that issue this week by starting to sell full price tickets at The Booth.

(cue cheers)

Yep, that’s right, one of the windows at The Booth will now “serve as a “Full-Price Ticket Window” for future performances of all shows and for same-day performances of shows not available at a discount.”

The goal, of course, is to make sure our buyers know that half price tickets aren’t the only way to see a Broadway show.

(Another service rolled out this week is that matinee and evening tickets will be sold simultaneously on matinee days – a win for the consumer who wants to get up early and take of their plans for the day – and a win for the show that may decrease available inventory earlier, allowing them to variable price remaining inventory and potentially increase their overall gross.)

Read the full press release here.

The TKTS booth has been a savior for the industry for so many years, by giving shows a way to get cash for unsold inventory before the potential is lost.  And it has been so good at what it does,  it became a one-stop shop for theater tickets for so many.

Now, that one-stop shop, has multiple ways to get tickets:  50%, 40%, 30% and now full price.

It’s got something for every kind of shopper.

And when you have something for everyone, you have less attrition to other industries, and more profit for ours.

 

(Got a comment? I love ‘em, so comment below!  Click here then scroll down to say what’s on your mind!)

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Ken Davenport
Ken Davenport

Tony Award-Winning Broadway Producer

I'm on a mission to help 5000 shows get produced by 2025.

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