Broadway Grosses w/e 6/30/2019: Moulin Rouge! Dazzles

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending June 30, 2019. The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League.

BY THE NUMBERS: Is it the show itself or awards shows in general?

The Tony Awards telecast took some shots from the press this year, many of which I still can’t understand. I enjoyed the show, as I wrote about here, and most theatergoers I spoke to did as well, including you.

The most quantifiable piece of criticism was (on the surface) the ratings.  “Viewership 10% down,” headlines screamed.  “Will CBS drop the show?” articles asked, like teenagers gossiping about whether or not the most popular couple in school would break up.

And most came to the conclusion that if the show was, ahem, better, viewership would go up.

That’s where I disagree.

First, I’m not surprised that viewership was down.  In fact, I’d postulate that if Hamilton opened this year, the Tony Awards would have had fewer viewers than it did when Hamilton was the focal point 3 years ago.

That’s because the way people consume entertainment is different.

In 2015, when Hamilton opened, millennials especially were ditching TV screens (and the live viewing that goes with it) at an alarming rate, causing a drop of 10.6% that year.

So, while it’s easy to point to the content as the problem, ratings are no Occam’s razor . . . the simplest answer is not always the right one.

And I think there’s another reason the ratings fell . . . and it’s not the Tony Awards show that’s the issue, it’s all awards shows.

I went to the numbers and looked at the ratings for the three major Awards shows since 2010.

Here they are . . .

 Year Viewers (Millions)
Tony Awards Grammys


2010 7.59 26.60 41.62
2011 8.39 26.55 37.90
2012 6.01 39.91 39.46
2013 7.24 28.37 40.38
2014 7.02 28.51 43.74
2015 6.46 25.30 37.26
2016 8.73 24.95 34.43
2017 6.00 26.05 32.94
2018 6.32 19.80 26.50
2019 5.47 19.90 29.60


And here they are in a graph, which paints the picture even more clearly:

As you can see . . . it ain’t just us.  So folks should stop pointing the finger at the production of the telecast and actually look at the ground that’s changing under our feet as we tap dance.

And those other awards shows are losing viewers at an even greater rate than we are (partly due to the many more millennials in their primary demographic).

It also just may be that awards aren’t as important to audiences anymore.  Or that the audiences know that these telecasts are more about marketing than anything.  Or that some of them (I’m talking to you, Hollywood) don’t represent the diverse field of the medium.  Or they are so filled with scandal (you again, Hollywood) that people are turning them off.

Or maybe our viewers are watching, just later, on their own schedule, instead of live.

Or maybe, just maybe, people want instant information (duh) and want to find out who won, but just want to see it in their social media feed later, rather than sit through three hours of commercials and stuff.

The way people view TV and movies has shifted and will continue to do so.  So, of course, the number of viewers of our awards show is going to go down.

Luckily for us, as compared to our sister industries, a screen is not where our primary content is consumed.  🙂

That’s why while viewership of the Tonys may be 10% down, our attendance in our actual theaters (where it really matters) is 10% up.

– – – – – –

What will Broadway look like next season?  Get my predictions and forecast for next year in next week’s blog.  Sign up here to make sure you don’t miss it.

Broadway Grosses w/e 6/23/2019: Mockingbird Soars

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending June 23, 2019. The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League.

Did you know Judge Judy makes $47 million a year? Here’s why.

Judge Judy hands out judgments to plaintiffs and defendants for a few thousand dollars here and there.

Meanwhile, she is raking in 47 million dollars a year.

Hard to believe, I know, and there was even a lawsuit about it.  But the sharp-tongued, impatient-with-idiots jurist who has been on the televised small claims court bench for 23 (!) years has proved she was worth every single penny.

$47 million.  A-freakin’ year.

Makes you want to go to law school and yell at some people who let their dogs bark too much or pee in their neighbor’s jacuzzi but won’t pay to have it cleaned.

So, why is she worth all that moolah, especially when the average salary in the US is only $56 . . . thousand?

Yes, she’s a unique character.  Yes, she says what a lot of people are thinking but would never say out loud.  Yes, the alliteration of her name makes it fun to say.

But she wouldn’t earn all that money if the show wasn’t earning even more . . . a lot more.

And why is that?

The reason the show is so popular is because . . . it’s a courtroom drama.

Courtroom dramas are one of the most popular forms of drama in theater, movies, and yep, TV.  It’s one of the reasons Law & Order has run for so long and had 174 spinoffs (not to mention why there are always new legal-eagle shows every year . . . since the days of Perry Mason and Matlock).

It’s one of the reasons To Kill A Mockingbird is raking it in at the Broadway box office and one of the reasons the book has captivated millions for decades.

Speaking of books, what about John Grisham’s success?  His books are all courtroom dramas.

Then, of course, there’s 12 Angry Men, A Few Good Men, Inherit The Wind, Witness for the Prosecution, and on and on and on . . .

People love them some courtroom drama.

So, what’s the action item for you based on Judge Judy’s paycheck?

Well, go out and create a courtroom drama would be the easy one.  🙂

But even if your show isn’t a courtroom drama, you can still add elements of a CD to make it more attractive to audiences, like . . .

1. A clear Protagonist and Antagonist.

In a CD, it’s very clear who is the good guy and who is the bad guy, or at least what the two sides are.  In the vast number of scripts I read, one of the biggest mistakes I see writers make is not making it clear who is on both sides of the conflict.

2. A clear conflict and a clear want.

Judge Judy gets to the bottom of what the issue is and fast.  Peeing in a jacuzzi, letting your Pit Bull eat your landlord’s roses, etc.  And we know exactly what the Plaintiff wants . . . for the Defendant to “pay.”  It’s so simple, it makes it easy for audiences to digest and follow.  If you clarify your conflict and objective in your story, audiences will dig in even deeper.

3. A clear resolution.

At the end of any day in court, there is a clear winner and loser . . . which ties up the conflict neatly.  Now, there can be plenty of ripples from that resolution that give the audience even more to think about (which is what the best art does), but the conflict is always resolved to a specific solution.  And that solution is usually revealed in a dramatic and suspenseful way . . . sometimes even with the strike of a gavel!

While your show may not be a literal courtroom drama, it should still be structured with the same principles if you want the kind of audience (and paycheck) that Judge Judy gets.

Oh, and another takeaway . . . someone needs to ask Ms. Judy if she wants to invest in a Broadway show.  🙂

Looking to add some drama to your drama?  Click here for how we can help get your script ready for a stage.

Broadway Grosses w/e 6/16/2019: Hadestown Rivals Hamilton

The following are the Broadway grosses for the week ending June 16, 2019. The Broadway grosses are courtesy of The Broadway League.